Kids play an utter waste of public money

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Maybe Prime Minister TuilaepaSa’ileleMalielegaoi was right all along. 

All this kerfuffle involving suspended Police Commissioner FuiavaililiEgonKeil and the suspended Director of the National Prosecution Office, Mauga Precious Chang, was just kids’ play.

We say this because now that the initial charges against both senior government officials have been dismissed, it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to say that that was an utter waste of time.

So kids play it might have been – to borrow Tuilaepa’s analogy - but it was an expensive one nonetheless. It cost you, me and all the taxpayers of this country their hard-earned money, which could have been spent to get water and electricity to many of those families featured in the Village Voice who are still having to go without.

Think of the lawyers involved, the time that was wasted and all the unnecessary headaches that could have easily been avoided. Think of Samoa’s reputation and how it was dragged through the mud. Spare a thought for the reputation of the officials involved, the toll it has taken on them, their families and supporters. This is a shameful petty episode in our history we’d rather forget. 

By the way, we are aware that Fuiava is facing additional charges from within the Police and that the hearing is pending. We are not referring to those charges.

The charges we are referring to which have been dismissed were in relation to the Ombudsman’s report about the wrongful arrest of a member of the public at the Fugalei Market. These initial charges of wrongful arrest, perjury, disorderly conduct, and providing a false statement, led to his suspension and the first Court case. 

In the end, a New Zealand Queens Counsel and Prosecutor, Paul Dacre, brought over under instructions from  AttorneyGeneral, Lemalu Herman Retzlaff, withdrew the charges.

“I am of the clear view that in respect of each charge the admissible evidence available is not sufficient to enable the offences to be proved,” he said. “It follows that I am of the clear view that the evidence is no longer sufficient to show a reasonable prospect of conviction. In these circumstances I am obliged to follow the guidelines which provide and direct that the prosecution must be discontinued.”

Now this week, the charges against Mauga in relation to a traffic incident were also dismissed after the District Court found her not guilty.

Mauga by the way had pleaded not guilty to negligent driving causing bodily injuries, an alternative charge of dangerous driving and failure to stop to ascertain whether anyone was injured at the scene. 

In his brief decision, Judge Fepuleai said after considering the evidence carefully, he had reached the decision that the prosecution failed to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt. 

New Zealand based lawyer, Satiu Mativa Perenise, again brought in at the expense of taxpayers said he needs time to consider if he would appeal the outcome.

 “The decision has been made and I just have to wait for the reasons,” he said. 

 “We have rules to obey and it’s improper for me to say at this point. It’s not for me to say whether to agree or not (with the decision). My job is to put up the prosecution’s case and I did. The Judge says it did not reach threshold that he thought it should.”

Here is little word of advice to lawyer Satiu and the Office of the Attorney; unless you are absolutely sure there are grounds for a successful appeal, please don’t waste anymore time with this matter. Enough taxpayers’ money have been wasted. We don’t need to waste anymore.

Which brings us back to the point that perhaps Prime Minister Tuilaepa knew this was all a farce from the beginning anyway.

When the news about Fuiava and Mauga’s charges first broke, his reaction certainly raised eyebrows. It’s worth revisiting.

Said he: “Have you seen these two? They are so youthful, they are very good looking, and they are both very new to their jobs.

 “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.”

That’s when Tuilaepa coined the now infamous phrase that they are my children.

“Mind you. They are my children. They are just having a little scrap,” he said.

“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.”

He didn’t stop there. He continued: “Now you are a parent. 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.

“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. You suddenly develop a fever so both these guys are a bit feverish at the moment.”

As for Cabinet’s decision to suspend them both, Tuilaepa said it was in line with government policy.

“When the matters are resolved, they will return to work with their batteries fully recharged,” he said.  “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.”

Now that the charges have been dismissed, of course it wasn’t a big thing. 

But it was an expensive thing with the costs shouldered by the public. 

What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us!

Have a productive Thursday Samoa, God bless! 

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