Ministers showing the way

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s been an interesting week. One that can perhaps be characterised by promises, denials and lots of feel good statements from our government leaders.

Indeed, words like “integrity,” “honesty,” “dignity” and terms like “putting people first” were thrown around a lot. 

It’s great. Seriously. 

It’s the stuff we all want to hear, isn’t it? 

In other words, it is pretty reassuring coming at the start of a new government administration with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi recently completing the naming of his Cabinet line up.

The first good news came from the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti. He has apparently resigned from his previous role with a leading financial management consultancy to avoid a conflict of interest.

 “I had always meant to resign. It’s for good governance that I do so I don’t have any conflict of interest,” Sala told your newspaper. “I resigned the day I was sworn in and never appointed people in the position I was in.”

It’s not just Sala of course.

On the front page of the newspaper you are reading, the new Minister of Communications and Information Technology (M.C.I.T), Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, has also washed his hands clean of a potential conflict of interest with his new role.

 “There is really no conflict at all in this,” Afamasaga said. “Through my office, it has informed all sectors and everybody they do work for, that I am no longer involved with the work (of Skylite).

 “I have pulled out completely in terms of position and involvement.” 

By the sound of things, Afamasaga is a man on a mission. And he intends to do exactly that.

“I have given my oath to prioritise (and work) for the interest of the government and the general public,” he declared. “That is what I focus on. You can have your own interests and Skylite can have their own but an individual interest is not my main concern as my decision is based on the general needs of the public.”

Well there is a good man, isn’t he? 

Samoa without a doubt surely needs more leaders like Afamasaga and Sili Epa. We hope all their colleagues will look to Sili and Afamasaga and follow their lead.

We say this because looking at the past, its undeniable that Cabinet Ministers, Associate Ministers, Members of Parliament and senior government officials have been known to use their positions to advance their private business interests. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a small country. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to know there are so many cases of conflicts of interest involving Government officials who run private businesses, robbing certain sectors of the hard working business community of the opportunities they should’ve been given. 

That, we repeat, is greed, pure and simple. 

And in a country where the government gloats openly about being transparent and accountable, there should be no place for preferential treatment based on conflicts of interest. Which means that greed, corruption and conflicts of interest must be done away with once and for all. 

The truth is simple enough. 

Corruption has infiltrated our systems despite people holding positions of power and responsibility talking about honesty, good governance and making those feel good promises every day.

Naturally, one cannot help but wonder why the world – including our small piece of paradise - is such a mess when leaders are saying all the right things.

Ladies and gentlemen, when we watch our leaders make them grandiose statements about “integrity,” “dignity,” “honesty” and “putting people first”, it raises our hopes.

We say this because there is so much rubbish that needs to be cleaned up. We’re talking about the unresolved cases of “corrupt practises” staring them in the face that must be addressed. 

Indeed, in Samoa today, there is an elephant in the room that must be removed.

There are also cases of abuse of power and positions that should be dealt with.

As a matter of fact, it should have been dealt with a long time ago.

Truth be told, some people holding positions of power shouldn’t be occupying those positions because their characters are shot. But they cannot run forever. That much is undeniable. The past will always catch up with them somewhere, somehow.

The problem today is in that in our politics, principles are ignored. Some leaders enjoy pleasure without conscience; they want wealth without work and there are leaders who have science without humanity. 

Folks, we need a new breed of leaders to be emerging. 

Out there on the streets of Samoa today, there are real people with real problems screaming out for real solutions. 

Suicide is real. Depression is real. Poverty is real. Hardship cannot be denied.

These problems are due to the lack of incomes, growing unemployment and children who are forced on the streets to sell whatever they could at all hours so they could provide for their families. 

Ladies and gentlemen, these people need help. And they need it quickly.

What they do not need is the silly rhetoric we’ve become so accustomed to being fed by leaders who have become so good with words but extraordinarily poor with action. Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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