The irony of ironies

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has been delivering some interesting remarks lately in relation to the issue of election petitions.

Coming from the leader of this country who gloats about transparency, accountability and justice regularly, his behavior has raised many eyebrows. 

And rightly so.

You see, at the beginning of the month in a story titled “Associate Minister wanted,” it was revealed that the Prime Minister had been searching for the former Associate Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, Lafaitele Patrick Leiataualesa.

Tuilaepa said he had been trying to find his Associate Minister in relation to a petition he filed against another Member of Parliament of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P). 

Tuilaepa was referring to Lafaitele taking newly elected woman M.P for Alataua West, Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuu’au to Court over allegations of bribery and treating. 

As one of six petitions filed with the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, the hearing is scheduled for this week. 

But the leader of the H.R.P.P. is apparently not happy.

 “It’s not a problem if it’s (petition) from another party,” said Tuilaepa, adding his disappointment that some of those that have filed petitions hold positions in the church. 

“It’s an internal matter,” he said referring to the allegations. “I believe that time will pass and the candidates will be reminded that it is between them and a brother and might reconsider to put it aside…especially being from the same party…”

At that time, he reminded Lafaitele that there was still time to reconsider and he had believed that God was speaking to some of the petitioners. 

Now obviously that hasn’t worked because as far as we are concerned, Lafaitele is persisting with his petition.

But at another constituency, Tuilaepa’s tactic has worked.

Yesterday, we found out that the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole’afoa Fa’afisi, has been spared from a petition alleging election corruption against him.

It follows a village meeting where the petitioner and another former MP, Aiono Tile Gafa, agreed to withdraw his petition.

Speaking during the meeting, Aiono Tile expressed his frustrations and what led him to file the petition. He said he was more concerned about the future of the constituency because he found out that many names on the election roll do not belong there.

Aiono Tile said this was hugely disappointing and he felt that something has to be done for the sake of transparency and good governance.

“My concern is that the future of Fasito’o-uta will be determined by people who don’t belong here,” he said. 

“Although it was a difficult decision (to file a petition) but I wanted to correct this wrong.”

Well that was until Monday’s meeting where Aiono Tile said he had accepted the advice from the village and that he would withdraw the petition.

The meeting by the way was attended by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who also holds the Aiono title. 

And in light of Aiono’s decision, Prime Minister Tuilaepa praised him immodestly.

“Thank you Aiono,” he said, “you are a true hero.”

Tuilaepa said the decision could only be achieved through the leadership of villages who are strong and united. 

Lastly he thanked Aiono for having a kind heart to forgive and forget.

Now let’s think about justice and the need to do the right thing by the law and God for a minute. 

Is it immoral to file an electoral petition to correct corruption and wrongdoing?

Doesn’t it worry us when the government and village matai join forces to derail the course of justice? 

Why do we need the Court system then? If the Prime Minister insists on unity that hides the truth and denies justice, why do we need laws? 

Who needs a Parliament then, one headed by a Speaker who knows very well that he is lucky to be there? 

The reality in Samoa is that on a daily basis, ordinary folks are being jailed and held accountable for very minor infringements. Why can’t we just forgive and forget all lawbreakers then? Why don’t we just abolish the Justice system if all that we need to do to solve the issues is a simple hand shake and some feel good speeches?

This is the irony of all ironies. What’s happening in Samoa today has all the hallmarks of a system where corruption is legalised, legitimised and allowed to flourish while the people standing up for justice and the truth are made to feel like they are the scourges of society. What do you think?

© Samoa Observer 2016

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