Cost of ignoring the need to deal with corruption

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

When you bend a piece of stick hard and long enough, it will eventually break. Just as whatever goes up must come down, life is a bit like that. We reap what we sow.

Looking at some of the challenges this country is confronted by in this day and age, whether it’s political, economical, spiritual, cultural or whatever, it’s hard to ignore that principle with the thought that perhaps with a few key changes we did not make, the outcome might have been different. But because we didn’t, we are all paying a hefty price for them now.

Indeed, the government has certainly had to learn about the chilling reality of not learning those lessons with the skyrocketing foreign debt and all the problems associated with its inability to effectively deal with corruption and the millions wasted through its reckless spending on white elephants we see around us.

The point we want to make here is that we need to deal with the danger from within. We believe our leaders should be reminded again about how imperative it is that they deal with corruption, abuse and misuse of power hurting the most vulnerable people of this country.

To say life is tough is an understatement. Life is more than tough; it is atrocious for many people. Look at the state of farmers, mothers and their poor children and what they have to go through every day just to make a tala or two in Apia and Salelologa.

Look at the growing number of Samoans – of all ages - who are being enslaved to run all over town to sell pins, cans of soda, twisties and air fresheners while their “foreign masters” sit in the shade and collect their handsome cash.

Think about the basic cost of living and basic services. What percentage of those increases is the result of negligence, corruption and mismanagement by the public service?

Think about how taxes are hurting everybody, especially when they are being taxed to the bone every day. 

Isn’t it downright cruel then that when we are taxed everywhere we turn in this country today, and yet we find that the cost of living, the cost of basic services and the cost of basic utilities continuing to show no mercy on the downright depleted soul?

Ladies and gentlemen, somebody – or some people - are responsible for this suffering. And the government should take a large chunk of the blame because of their lack of care and absent-mindedness about doing what is right to help people.

What we find especially shameful is the attitude of apathy that’s being shown towards these problems by some public officials whom – judging by their comments in public – show total disregard for people’s suffering.

These are the same officials who took an oath to do what’s right in the eyes of man and his God, to protect the best interest of the people they exist to serve.

Today, there is reason to believe they are failing those very people. We say this because as ordinary members of the public struggle to get by on a daily basis – including businesses and the thousands of employees depending on them – the government just doesn’t seem to accept that somewhere along the line, its behaviour, or misbehaviour if you prefer, has played a big part in this struggle. 

Let’s not forget the abuse, overspending and the misuse of millions of tala – that otherwise could have been spent to help people – highlighted by the Controller and Chief Auditor in his report to Parliament for 2009 and 2010.

The findings in this report were clearly confirmed during an investigation by the Officers of Parliament Committee who recommended that legal action be taken against the officials implicated. 

We are talking about millions of tala by the way. And some of these failed projects are staring us in the face everyday, as if it’s a reminder about the need for justice to be served. 

What is this government waiting for? When will they stop these political games and get on with what needs to be done for true justice to be achieved? Would we have had the recent embarrassment with Lauititi Tualima had a portion of those funds identified in the Chief Auditor’s report been used to build a simple fence?  

Come to think of it, why do we jail the average Joe who steals 50 tala and yet allow the ones who misuse millions to walk freely?

In Samoa today, there is an elephant in the room and as long as that is not addressed, we can never move forward as a country.

We know the truth, you know the truth. Only an “idiot” cannot see what’s really happening.

And you wonder why we’ve got so many problems? You wonder why we’ve got so many social and economical challenges. 

Don’t we live in an age where every penny counts? And what has happened to the government’s favourite catch cry of transparency, accountability and good governance? 

We’ve said this before and we will say it again here. There are people who are saying that we should just wear our Christian hats, forgive and forget about the past and move forward. This is utter rubbish.

There is a time for everything. Besides, God Almighty certainly does not condone wrongdoing, especially when it enslaves his precious people. God is one of justice and he does care about the truth. 

Let’s not forget that. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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