With the growing culture of bureaucratic corruption being manifested openly today throughout the government of the so-called Human Rights Protection Party, it seems inevitable that we’re reminded one more time about what the late MP and lawyer, Dr. Asiata A.V. Sale’imoa Va’ai, had written in connection with this very topic, obviously in the belief that his views would be publicly made one day when the need to do so arises.
Now with respect therefore, we believe such a time is now.
The point is that when Dr. Va’ai wrote about what he thought and believed the government was up to then he was – understandably enough - virtually ignored.
So that today, as we’re seeing around us what our government has been doing over the last ten years resulting in bureaucratic corruption spreading like a voracious virus throughout the government, we’re amazed that Dr. Va’ai’s predictions are so hauntingly real today, it’s scary.
In his letter to the editor published in the Samoa Observer at the time, he wrote; referred to two laws that had just been passed, namely the Parliamentary Undersecretaries Act 1988, and the Public Service (Special Posts) Act 1989.
Wrote Dr. Va’ai: These two laws will largely be responsible for the establishment of HRPP’s dictatorship over Samoa.
“Ultimately,” he went on, this situation of unaccountability of Cabinet and the Public Servants, does not only affect the quality of service provided but (it) creates (at the same time) a culture of collusion and corruption within the government.
“This culture,” he pointed out, “will involve the employer (which is the Cabinet) and employees (who are the public servants), whereby the politicians and public servants (are now ganging up to) look after each other within government.”
And that way, theirs would be a partnership where it would be well understood, that: “You rub my back, and I’ll rub your back.”
At the time, the government had just awarded public servants “massive increases” in their salaries, which seemed to indicate that government leaders were already contemplating the idea of remaining in power forever.
That was when Dr. Asiata Va’ai made what had since turned out to be a very sound, flawless prediction.
He said: “With the public service firmly head-locked by the HRPP government, the recent massive increases in public service salaries and the party control over other institutions of government arms, the HRPP is bound to remain in power for many more years unless its systemic corruption of government is widely recognized and then rectified.”
Today, Dr. Asiata Va’ai’s prediction has neither waned, nor faded.
Instead, it has remained honest to its creator’s very wishes, up to now.
In reference to the media and what he thought of the work its members were doing at the time, he wrote: “Opposition voiced in newspapers such as the Samoa Observer focuses on social and political issues, that have proved over the years to have had very little impact, on a population that vote largely on considerations of families, customs, traditions, bribery and treating.”
He was probably right.
Still, what might have been his response if he was around on 15 January 2017, when Prime Minister Tuilaepa gave the Samoan media a tongue-whipping they are most likely not to forget in a hurry, as he was accusing them of “re-running stale footage” and “fabricating stories”, in connection with young kids working as street vendors on the streets of Apia, right into the deathly hours of the Samoan night?
He was apparently angry all right, old Tuilaepa: ferociously angry, they said.
But why are young kids working as venders in the middle of the night when they should be in bed asleep, since tomorrow morning they are supposed to go to school?
Is it because since their parents have no regular income to depend on for all the things they need to keep them clothed, housed and fed, they are left with nothing so that the kids are prevented from attending school?
Now isn’t that where the government intervenes?
Isn’t that where it steps in smartly and ensures that the evil called money-gorging corruption that’s being perpetrated and fostered throughout the government itself over the years, is dealt with smartly with the idea of getting rid of it, once and for all?
That is what the government should do.
In fact, that’s its job.
It is there to make sure the people it’s governing have jobs so that they can fend for themselves, and at the same time be able to put their children though school instead of sending them out in the middle of the night as street vendors, which is when far more grievous problems occur.
By the way, the claim by the government that the media had been publishing “old videos” in their stories “featuring street vendors fighting among themselves in public during the night”, should not be taken seriously.
It is all hogwash.
“I’ve just got off the phone with the Police,” Tuilaepa said. “They are surprised about that issue. You see, it’s easy to bring back something you filmed many years ago, especially at this time when they are looking for some stories to fill the paper.”
He also said: “That thing is not new. So the Police are surprised, they are going to see where these reports come from. According to them, nothing like that is happening.”
Now is that so? Who, by the way, is lying here?
The question is: Why would any reporter in his right mind put himself in a position where he is most likely to end up with his name in tatters, and his reputation torn asunder, simply because he has used a picture from a lousy old video, in his story?
Tuilaepa said the media, especially newspapers, were in the habit of making up stories.
Now which newspaper was he referring to this time?
He didn’t say.
What he said was: “See, we have a lot of people here trying to look for some gossip.”
“So what happens is that when you search and cannot find a story, then you fabricate such stories.”
“You go and bring back the footage that’s been stale in your files for months and then you re-run it like it’s something that happened yesterday.”
Now is that so?
Would he be kind enough to name that newspaper?
After all, newspapers are supposed to tell the truth, not lies.
Told that the footage he was referring to was captured towards the end of last month, and the one of brawling street vendors was taken during the holidays, Tuilaepa insisted that no one had reported anything to the Police.
He said: “I called the Police and they said there has been no report. This is the responsibility of the Police.”
He then advised that members of the public should feel duty bound to help.
“Everyone has a duty,’ he said. “If they see these things they should help. That’s the duty of all Samoans, to stop these kids when they’re fighting.”
Then there’s a law being proposed in connection with so-called street kids.
It appears that the idea is to make parents liable for any ill-behavior their kids may be accused of while they are out at night selling good on the road.
Now this one is definitely a stupid, unnecessary law as far as Tuilaepa is concerned.
“It’s a foolish matter,” Tuilaepa said. “If we do something like that, we will be worse off than Communism.”
Now that’s something new!
And then he dug in deeper, saying: “The thing to do is just use your brains.”
He reminded that “the government cannot do everything. Parents have to play their role, which includes ensuring that their children are taken care of.”
He also said: “That’s the stuff parents, Village Councils and Pastors, should be looking out for. That’s the duty for all of us.”
He went on: “The government doesn’t have to do everything, that’s the responsibility of parents and families.”
“So when we have a law like that, we will be worse of than communist countries,” he said. “It means that every time you want to go to the toilet you have to ask for permission.”
Now that’s harsh!
Still, now that Tuilaepa is talking Communism, let’s just step back to what Dr Asiata Va’ai, said about that very subject.
He was talking about the H.R.P.P. government and how he believed it was heading towards becoming a dictatorship, when he insisted:
“It however, leaves relatively untouched the root of the dictatorship problem and stranglehold on power the one party HRPP government has.
“And in that sense, it cannot be effectively addressed other than through the Courts, and an educated voting population that understands the undemocratic, and dangerous political situation Samoa is in.”
Indeed, it seems clear that Samoa is in a rather dangerous political situation, right now.
He was, no doubt, a man who loved his country in his own way.
Now the questions are:
First. Does Prime Minister Tuilaepa think of himself as a dictator?
Second. If he truly thinks he’s a dictator, would he also then accept without any reservation at all, being addressed as: Your Majesty, Dictator Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaioi?
Tell us what you think.
Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless.