Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has rejected a call to revisit its award policy for Olympic medalists.
The call was made in Parliament yesterday by Member of Parliament for Urban West, Faumuina Wayne Fong.
Faumuina was speaking when the Casino and Gambling Control Amendment Bill 2017 was tabled in Parliament for the second reading.
The Minister Lautafi Fio Purcell noted that the bill is a minor amendment, with its overall objective being to permit the Totaliser Agency Board (T.A.B.) to continue the functions of the authority for an additional 12 months.
The extension will cover the interim time period, while an amendment Act for the authority is drafted.
On the floor, Faumuina acknowledged T.A.B’s contribution to the development of sports in Samoa. It was then that he brought up the need to revisit the government’s award policy.
“I truly believe that your support should expand so that you can also award those who have returned home with medals,” he said.
“That’s why the additional twelve months which has been given to T.A.B is useful so that they can look at these things carefully and make some changes."
“As we all know, the policy we have right now is that we only award the gold medalists."
“To me, getting a Gold medal in the Commonwealth Games is alright but when it comes to the Olympic Games; now that’s a big thing.”
Faumuina said winning a Gold Medal from the Olympics might only be “just a tough dream” for our country.
“Because we don’t know when that will become a reality. But I urge the Board to look at this carefully."
“We now have a Silver medal from the Olympics, now the thing is, a Gold Medal in the Commonwealth Games is equivalent to fourth place or bronze medal in the Olympics."
“But now we have a Silver Medal from the Olympics and we are not doing anything about it.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa interrupted. He said the main reason behind the government policy is to encourage athletes to aim for the best.
“This simply means that all of those who are saying that we should award those with silver medals, they are short sighted,” he said.
“Look at the Commonwealth Games, we have been trying for so many years for a Gold Medal, but we did get it after years of trying."
“It’s not because we don’t have the ability to achieve it and win Gold medals.”
He noted that many of the existing sporting issues were the result of mismanagement.
“Most of the problems are internal issues,” he said.
“But the government cannot move away from what’s already been set for a good reputation for our country. The truth is, a country is not famous for winning silver medals. They can only be famous for winning Gold medals."
“That’s why I interrupted the opinion of this member."
“Leave those opinions out. Those opinions are from the Samoa Observer."
“You should all know that the policy has been there from the start. It’s not something we did yesterday. All those who leave the country to carry our flag in sports are aware of this policy."
“But you should stop reading the paper all the time then bring the opinions there to Parliament.
“Bring in only good ideas and opinions so that we can make good decisions.”
The Chair of the meeting yesterday, Nafo’itoa Talaimanu Keti reminded Faumuina that comments cannot be made on the floor about a particular person or someone who is not present in the House.
In response, Faumuina denied accusations made by the Prime Minister that the comments he made are from the Observer.
“That’s my own opinion. It’s just an opinion, if you don’t agree with it, then that’s okay. I just wanted to put it to the floor for discussion.”