Well, it’s getting more and more interesting by the day, so that perhaps it’s time now to just sit down and shed a tear or two.
It all began a couple of weeks ago when the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, and the Director of the National Prosecution Office, Mauga Precious Chang, got themselves in serious trouble that apparently spun out of control, and as a result they were suspended from office.
Sometime later, the country’s top lawyer, Attorney General Herman P. Retzlaff, stepped in and announced that since the officers had been holding top government posts when they were suspended, they were entitled to certain forms of assistance prescribed by law.
He then went on to spell out what he meant in a statement where he wrote:
“Public interest dictates that where the heads of government departments that are to undertake law enforcement in Samoa, are involved in cases particularly where charges were brought by the two departments against each other at the same time, all steps must be taken in transparency and good governance to ensure that justice is not just done, but is also seen to be done.”
Incidentally, that statement of his was published in yesterday’s edition, of the Samoa Observer.
And then another press statement arrived.
Dated 5 September 2016 and titled “Prosecutors engaged”, it was sent from the National Prosecution Office, and it referred to the statement from the Attorney General that had been published in the Samoa Observer, on 3 September 2016.
It points out that “the few facts referenced in that article as confirmed by the Attorney General must be clarified.”
It goes on to say: “In relation to the case of National Prosecution Office v Egon Keil, the National Prosecution Office who holds sole power of prosecution under the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa, has not delegated its powers of prosecution in that matter.”
It also points out: “The new Attorney General had the mistaken impression that he still retained some power of prosecution which he could then use to appoint an overseas counsel of his choice.
“However, that power was removed from him pursuant to the Constitutional Amendment Act (No 2) 2015 and given to the Director of Public Prosecutions, further resulting in the setup of the National Prosecution Office.”
The statement continues: “One of the main reasons for that separation of powers was to ensure that the Attorney General avoids a conflict of interest in defending the Government in a civil suit.
Such is the case with the criminal case against Egon Keil; because the Attorney General is defending the Government in this civil suit (which may include defending the actions of the Commissioner of Police), he would be conflicted had he been handling the criminal case against Egon Keil.”
“However,” the statement points out, “the Attorney General’s sole focus now is on the civil suit against the Government. The National Prosecution Office’s role will be to handle the criminal case.”
And “accordingly,” the statement makes clear, “these issues have been clarified with the Attorney General, and he has agreed to remove himself from any further involvement in the criminal case.”
Concludes the statement: “The prosecution of the criminal case of Mr. Keil remains with the National Prosecution Office.
However, “in relation to the matter against Mauga Precious Chang, this Office will not comment as our office is not handling that.”
And so, the question for which the public is now asking the National Prosecution Office for an answer, is: “Who is handling that?”
Or do they prefer that the question is directed at Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi who, referring to Egon Keil and Mauga Precious Chang when they were suspended, told reporters during one of his press conferences that those two are just “a couple of kids being involved in a minor scrap.”
Tuilaepa is probably right. Perhaps these “kids” should be playing marbles under the trees at Saleufi instead of gambling with people’s lives.
But then as though Tuilaepa is so impressed with these two he would not leave them alone, he’s heard telling reporters: “Have you seen these two? They are so youthful, they are very good looking, and they are both very new to their jobs.”
Now somehow Tuilaepa is sounding as though he is someone we’ve never met before, as he’s saying: “The Commissioner is new to the role and even this lady has just started.
“If you look at her, you’d think she is only twelve years old but they are both very intelligent.”
Anyway, that was apparently after Cabinet that he practically owned arm, leg and soul, had suspended Egon Keil and Mauga Precious Chang, and never mind those charges that are supposed to be pending against them; let’s just forget about them all is the way we’re seeing it now.
And in the meantime, let’s listen to Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who’s now saying: “Mind you. They are my children. They are just having a little scrap.”
Now is that so? Charming!
Now Tuilaepa is saying: “Now remember, they are both responsible for the handling of charges so they’re just testing their skills on each other so that when it’s time for major matters, they would be used to it.”
Tuilaepa is having fun, obviously, and this time he’s comparing this minor scrap to a baby.
“Now you are a parent,” he’s saying. “There is a stage when a baby who is breast-fed suddenly gets the fever. That’s when they finally start to grow their teeth, the gums will start to show.”
Tuilaepa says: “That is similar to what is happening between the new Police Commissioner and the new Director of the N.P.O.
“You see it’s teething problems,” he explains. “You suddenly develop a fever so both these guys are a bit feverish at the moment.”
Tuilaepa adds that “the suspension is in line with government policy.
“When the matters are resolved, they will return to work with their batteries fully recharged,” he says.
“So they both get to keep their vehicles to get around, it’s also good in a way to give them a break because their workload is so heavy. But it’s not a big thing.”
No, of course it’s not a big thing Tuilaepa, it’s a small thing. In fact, to him, it’s nothing.
However, to the majority, it’s everything.
How many of them have the luxury of driving around in a vehicle that Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s government has handed over for them to use free of charge, until their problems “are resolved (and) they will (then) return to work with their batteries fully recharged?”
But then “mind you,” says Tuilaepa, these two “are my children. They are just having a little scrap.”