The pursuit for truth and justice

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Well there you go. The war of words between the mighty government and the Land and Titles Court Judges is not going away in a hurry. 

Just when we thought the struggle for power and the upper hand might have been settled when the report by the Commission of Inquiry tasked to review the performance of the Land and Titles Court Judges was tabled, the front page of the newspaper you are reading tells a different story.

Whoever is right in this simmering row, we are dead sure about one thing. The decision by the Judiciary to abstain from the Inquiry has struck a sore nerve with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his administration so that today he has really come out all guns blazing looking for blood.

Using the privilege of a Ministerial statement yesterday, Tuilaepa went to town saying that “some” of the Judges are “unqualified, dishonest, reckless and abusive.” 

But that wasn’t all. Among other new developments in relation to the Land and Titles Court, Tuilaepa revealed all the Land and Title Judges positions will be advertised once the report is passed.

“The truth is it’s not all the judges that are giving the Land Titles Court a bad name. There is a minority giving the Court a bad name. They should be sacked,” he said.

“We can never dry the tears of our people if these people who are unqualified, dishonest, reckless and abusive of our people, giving the Court a bad name, and all of us who are called leaders of this country, remain there.”

 “We want to ensure that only qualified and honest judges are appointed to be Judges of the Land and Titles Court. If good judges are appointed, the decisions will be good too. If the Judges appointed are honest, their decisions will also be righteous.”

Needless to say this is a serious indictment on the Judiciary. We believe it is imperative for the Chief Justice and the Judges of the Land and Courts to respond publically to these allegations and claims for the sake of clarity and fairness. 

What’s interesting we find is that all this talk from the government about justice and doing what is right by members of the public and the almighty God is ironic.

Don’t get me wrong, the Inquiry is important. But if the government is so serious in its pursuit of the truth over the actions of the Judges of the Land and Titles Court, why didn’t it adopt the same attitude and fervor towards similar claims of corruption, mismanagement and collusion in other organs of the government?

Over the past years, the issues of corruption, abuse of power and mismanagement among others have constantly surfaced on the pages of this newspaper.  

They are stories of austere corruption that have been permeating unstoppably throughout the public service which have yet to be addressed appropriately with the thought of reducing it, if not stopping it altogether.

Take for instance the issues raised by the Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele, in his report to Parliament for the periods ended 30 June 2010 and 30 June 2011. Fuimaono’s report revealed allegations of unbridled corruption that had apparently been perpetrated within certain government corporations over a number of years.

The report was referred to the Officers of Parliament Committee (O.P.C.), chaired by then Associate Minister Papali’i Niko Lee Hang to investigate. In the end, they backed and proven a number of allegations raised by Chief Auditor Fuimaono. We don’t need to go into details. You know what we are talking about.

The point here is about consistency in the pursuit for truth and justice. 

Today, we have the government accusing the Judges of the Land and Titles Court of being dishonest and abusive among other serious allegations. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa also flatly denied a call to forgive the judges if they had erred in their decision last year.

Okay. Fine. 

They can do what they like.

But where is consistency? Which public servants are subjected to investigations, scrutiny and eventually sacked and which ones are forgiven and allowed to get away with breaking the law and rewarded? 

Isn’t everyone supposed to be the same under the law? Or are there people who are above the law in Samoa?

This is classic case of having different strokes for different folks. Which reminds us of Mathew 7 vs 3: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Think about it Samoa, God bless!

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