Cabinet will soon be able to terminate the services of a Police Commissioner and Assistant Police Commissioner.
The proposed change is highlighted in the Police Service Amendment Act 2016 tabled in Parliament yesterday.
Prime Minister and Minister of Police, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said the bill permits the Head of State on the advice of Cabinet to terminate the holders of the positions.
Tuilaepa told Parliament if the Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner’s actions come into disrepute during his or her service, Cabinet will be able to terminate (the services) without having to go through a lengthy Commission of Inquiry.
He said the current process is time consuming and costly. The change will remedy these challenges.
Under the current Police Service Act 2009 it provides for suspensions pending a Commission of Inquiry.
“The proposed change ensures that the responsibilities carried out by Police Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner are not stopped,” said Tuilaepa.
“As you may be aware it is difficult to make a decision about the duties of the Commissioner and Assistant before a Commission of Inquiry is complete.
“It takes a long time to go through it even if its just a simple issue that Cabinet can just make a decision about it on their advice to the Head of State it is prevented here. “The whole reason for this is to ensure that nothing can put the works of Police to stop and not preventing cabinet to make a decision prior pending an Inquiry.”
Tuilaepa added that if there is ever a time that the Police Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner had some mental problems it will be difficult to make a quick decision on it without having to wait for the Inquiry.
M.P. for Salega East, Olo Fiti Vaai supported the proposed change.
However, he raised the issue about the privileges for the position holders.
Olo recalled that a former Police Commissioner was suspended with pay and still had access to government vehicles pending a C.O.I.
“The problem with that was that it cost taxpayers money because they were paid during suspension and had access to the government car,” said Olo.
“Secondly, why isn’t this being standardised to all government ministries? This will ensure that the problem is being addressed earlier so that the general public can receive the services needed.”
Olo also spoke about the situation at the National Prosecution’s Office. He questioned what the current situation is for the Office bearing in mind that it was separated from the Attorney General’s Office but it appears that it will be returned under the A.G.
Veteran M.P. for Falealupo, Aeau Peniamina Leavaise’eta also took the floor.
He wanted to understand one of the reasons given by the Minister of Police particularly when he mentioned that a decision needs to be done especially if someone has mental problems.
“I did not get the explanation of who will be enforcing the termination (of Police Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner)?”
In response, Tuilaepa said that perhaps the M.P. needs to seek medical help to check his ears.
Tuilaepa said the proposed change promotes good governance and accountability.
“These changes are needed to ensure stability,” he said.
“There is no shortage in opinion regarding the matters but failure tends to occur when it comes to the enforcement of policies.”
An example he used was the past election issues where the names of deceased people were used by other to cast votes.
It led to the use of voter I.Ds which also created many problems.
The bill has been referred to parliamentary committee.