How we can fix this problem

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Dear Editor,

I have a lot of respect for the views expressed by MP Lautafi Purcell’s family members on social media forums but after reading MP Lautafi’s comments about street vendors, he’s slowly becoming an idiot. 

He sounds just like PM Tuilaepa – dishing out political talk and refusing to take ownership of their part of the problem.

He said it’s wrong for the people to accuse the government of doing nothing as the government is doing something about it. Let me remind you MP Lautafi, your employer a.k.a the taxpayers/people have every right to raise a concern whenever there’s a problem and government rather than being defensive, need to take ownership and responsibility for their share of the problem. 

This child vendor issue has been discussed for 10s of years by the people and I warned the government then that this problem will get worse – and so it has.

The people of Samoa are getting sick and tired of these MPs who politicize and intellectualize the problem instead of addressing and fixing the problem.

Everything MP Lautafi said here, he might as well tell the people that the govt is not going to do anything about it, as they find it impossible to do something about it, as they don’t have a real solution to the problem. 

He made it sound like the problem was so complicated.

He went as far in his cover up by comparing Samoa to countries overseas. 

Those countries overseas have strong laws in place to protect children who are out on the streets delivering newspapers and they take utmost responsibility for the welfare of their children, by removing them on the spot when in danger of abuse from parents or the community – poor comparison MP Lautafi.

We are not countries overseas – we are Samoa talking about problems within Samoa. 

We are not just talking about these kids selling goods – we’re talking about the violence and the new breeds of criminals in our country. You’re only looking at M.C.I.L laws to try and do something about it. You need to look at the Child Protection Act, International Child Protection Acts, the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child 2016, Unicef and Samoa Report 2006, etc. Do some research!

MP Lautafi, you quoted the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013, Section 51 in your statement. Under (1) a person must not employ a child under the age of 15 years of age in a place of employment except in safe and light work suited to his or her capacity, and subject to such conditions as may be determined by the C.E.O.

and (2) A person must not employ a child under the age of 18 years on dangerous machinery or in any occupation or in any place under working conditions injurious or likely to be injurious to the physical or moral health of such child.

MP Lautafi and the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, why haven’t you/government acted in favor of the child vendor yet? 

These children are working in conditions that are deemed not safe and are injurious to both their physical and moral health. 

They are being exploited by scrupulous wholesalers/retailers who ‘employed’ them; they are not attending school; picking up poor lifestyle habits from the streets (violence/ alcoholism/smoking etc); staying out late; lack sleep; developing poor personal hygiene etc.

They are also subjected to emotional trauma from the verbal abused hurled at them, are physically assaulted and not to mention they are easy targets sexual abuse and exploitation. These negative aspects have a long lasting ill effect on children.

Some of these kids are as young as 8 and there was a 3 year old selling not long ago too. Any kid who sells goods on the streets during school hours is a victim of child abuse.

Any kid of the age of 15 and under wondering in the streets unsupervised even late at night is a victim of child abuse.

This child abuse is committed upon these children by the parents, the community and the worse culprit of all is the government. This is called the system abuse.

The govt has the power to remove these kids from their parents and place them in a safe and secure environment until the parents can prove to the govt thru the courts that they are fit to look after their kids before their children are returned to them.

This govt and the fools that support them always blame the parents but they need to realize that these children are the children of the State.

If the parents neglect or abuse their children in any form, the govt has a responsibility and all the powers in the world to remove the child and place them in their care. 

As for the unscrupulous wholesalers /retailers who exploit these children to sell on their behalf, you need to come down hard on them - give them hefty fines or lock them up! 

So MP Lautafi, do what I just told you to do and there’d be no more child vendors.

If PM Tuilaepa and his govt cannot deal with this simplest of problems in our society, what chance do they have dealing with all the other problems 

concerning the country today? 

This is why I’ve been calling for PM Tuilaepa and this govt to step down – they are nothing but a bunch of fools who have run out of ideas and don’t know what they are doing. MP Lautafi has repeated what other MP’s before him had said yet the problem is still here. 

The Child Street Vendor issue warrants a much more serious consideration by govt and M.W.S.C.D than what they have done so far – lip service and no action!

PM Tuilaepa and HRPP need to stop the corruption and create jobs for the parents instead to help alleviate this problem!

M.B.R

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