AMERICAN SAMOA HEADLINE NEWS

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Thursday, July 22, 1999

Samoa News

DELEGATION FROM AMERICAN SAMOA TO ATTEND ASSASSINATED SAMOA MP LUAGALAU’S FUNERAL

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO---Political and traditional leaders, both in Samoa and from the region, were among the more than 200 people who paid their respects yesterday afternoon during the Government’s memorial service for the late Luagalau Levaula Samuelu Kamu, Samoa’s Minister of Public Works.

Luagalau was shot dead last Friday night during a political function hosted by the country’s ruling party, the Human Rights Protection Party, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The body of the late member of Parliament was taken from the country’s hospital through the streets of Apia toward the Prayer House Center on Mt. Vaea where a three-hour government memorial service was held under the close eye of police guards.

Messages of condolences were read to the teary crowd.

Following the service, the body was taken to Luagalau’s home in the village of Ululoloa, where the family’s memorial service was held, followed by an overnight vigil.

Luagalau will be laid to rest at his home village at 10:00 a.m. today.

American Samoa’s Governor Tauese Sunia, on behalf of the Government and the people of American Samoa, extended his heartfelt condolences to the Prime Minister of Samoa and the people of Samoa upon the tragic death of MP Luagalau.

The Governor’s message to PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was made public yesterday. The Governor’s wife, who is expected to hand-carry the message, will represent the people and the Government of American Samoa during the funeral service.

"On behalf of the Government and the people of American Samoa, I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to you, the Government and the people of Samoa upon the tragic death of Minister of Works Luagalau Levaula Kamu," wrote the Governor in a communiqué dated yesterday to Tuilaepa.

"Luagalau was a valuable and effective member of your cabinet and was widely admired in this territory. His affability, sense of humor and effective discharge of his ministerial duties were very commendable. It will be difficult to replace him," the Governor added.

"We will miss him and we want you to know that we share your grief. Please extend our condolences to his family," the Governor concluded in his message of condolence to Tuilaepa.

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni said from Washington, D.C. that he has spoken to the widow, Honorable Maiava V. Peteru, to convey his condolences.

Maori Affairs Minister and Maori Pacific Leader Hon. Tau Henare heads a delegation of New Zealand politicians who arrived last night in Apia for the funeral service.

Other MPs making up the delegation include National MPs Arthur Anae and Murray McCully, as well as Labour MP Taito Phillip Field.

"Luagalau was a pioneer and his work will benefit future generations to come," said Mr. Henare in New Zealand. "I have been but one privileged to have shared this man’s wise counsel and personal warmth.

"I think it's appropriate for me and others to honor him this way," Henare said in a press statement released to media groups in the region.

The Legislature of American Samoa considers the passing of Luagalau "a great loss and tragedy to his family and the Government of Samoa."

Furthermore, his passing, "also created a vacancy and a vacuum of leadership that will be most difficult to fill."

That is the message outlined in a Special Resolution passed by the Legislature on Wednesday that is being hand carried by Senator (Rev. Dr.) Faiivae A. Galeai.

Senator Galeai will be accompanied by the Secretary of the Senate, Leoo Vaa Ma‘o. Together, they will deliver this moving message to the people and the Government of Samoa as the Independent State mourns the tragic loss of a Samoan politician who "passed away due to unforeseeable circumstances on the evening of July 16, 1999.

"The Legislature of American Samoa conveys its deepest sympathies to Honorable Mrs. Maiava Visekota Peteru (Luagalau’s widow) and family as well as to the Government of Samoa on the untimely passing of the Honorable Luagalau, and pays its highest tribute to his dedicated service to the Government and people of Samoa," states the Special Resolution which was fully endorsed by lawmakers.

Family and friends of the late Minister of Works, including a delegation from the Methodist Church, also will attend the funeral service.

Besides winning the seat in Parliament in 1996, Luagalau became the Representative in that year of the Methodist Standing Committee of the Methodist Congregations of Samoa, which includes American Samoa.

Sources in Apia said that a forensic scientist and three police investigators from New Zealand are now heading the investigation into the shooting. Although the Government is telling the media that they are not holding back any information, the Police commissioner is not responding to questions by Samoa’s media group.

Luagalau was shot in the back while talking on his cellular phone during the political function, celebrating the government Human Rights Protection Party’s 20th anniversary. A police source said that they now suspect that an M-16 rifle was used in the shooting. This information, however, has not been confirmed officially by investigators.

As in most unsolved murders, there are many rumors circulating concerning Luagalau’s assignation, but most are mere speculation and none have been conformed.

The rumors in Samoa have spilled into American Samoa, causing more speculation.

Born in 1953, Luagalau was a lawyer by profession, studying law at Auckland University and Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.

Elected to Parliament in 1996, he represented the District of Salega, Savai‘i.

The late member of Parliament is survived by his wife, also an attorney by profession, who represents the District of Aana Alofi #1. The couple had four children.

FED FUNDED RENEWAL PROJECT MAY GIVE FAGATOGO A FACE LIFT

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa---The Executive Branch is seeking endorsement by the Fono to officially establish the "Central Business District, Urban Renewal Project" following a proclamation in support of the project for the Bay Area.

Seeking support, Governor Tauese Sunia informed the Fono leadership that Aliimau H. Scanlan, Director of the Department of Commerce (DOC), is preparing the American Samoa Government (ASG) to apply for HUD (Housing Urban Development) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to renew and revitalize the Central Business District.

SPECIAL OLYMPIC ATHLETES "BRING HOME THE GOLD"

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa---American Samoa’s athletes who participated in the last Special Olympic World Summer Games of this century brought home a total of 11 medals and eight ribbons, according to Mike Fuiava, President of the American Samoa Special Olympic Committee.

This year’s theme was "It’s All About Attitude."

Hosted by Raleigh, North Carolina, the Territory’s 13-member team was successful in obtaining 3 Gold, 7 Silver, 1 Bronze and 8 ribbons.

GOVERNOR REMINDS FONO OF MANY PENDING BILLS, RESUBMITS NOMINEE

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa---Governor Tauese Sunia has resubmitted Leasau Eseroma for Fono confirmation as a member of the Immigration Board. He would replace Senator Tuilefano M. Vaelaa, whose term has expired.

Although the House passed Eseroma’s nomination to the Board in its First Session, the Senate rejected the nomination twice.

Because Eseroma’s nomination has not been endorsed and no other candidate has been recommended, Tuilefano will remain on the Immigration Board until a replacement is confirmed.

Governor Tauese also informed the Fono leadership of many pending bills from the Administrations that are of importance, including the Child tax law, which needs the endorsement of the Senate. The House passed the bill during the First Session, with amendments to the original version provided by the Administration.

LDS ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF NEW PRESIDENT

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa---The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) recently announced the appointment of Suaapaia Pe‘a as the President of the Apia Samoa Mission, which covers all of Samoa.

President Pe‘a, who follows President Mataali‘i in the position for three years, assumed his new responsibility on July 1, 1999.

President Pe‘a is a native of Samoa, born in Vaiola, Savai‘i. He has worked for the church as manager of interpretation services and in other capacities.

President Pe‘a and his wife, Talaloa Mulipola Pe‘a, lived in Salt Lake City for 36 years. They are the parents of five children and one grandchild.

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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