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MK

Don’t shoot the messenger, fix the problem instead

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, issued what appeared to be a veiled threat against the media, particularly this newspaper.It happened when he told the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) and the Police to investigate where, how and whom in Government circles was leaking “confidential information” to the Samoa Observer.In other words, the Prime Minister wanted to know the source or sources of information, from which stories highlighting questionable conduct within the public service; are based upon.According to the Prime Minister, it is the P.S.C’s function to investigate claims of wrongdoing against public servants from time to time, adding that such investigations must be thorough and comprehensive. For that to happen, the content of the investigation and the nature of allegations made against the people being investigated should be safeguarded and protected.Which is not what has been happening. In this particular case, the Prime Minister’s order follows the recent leakage of P.S.C. charge sheets, revealing different P.S.C. charges against senior officials of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration. For the uninitiated, the charge sheets reveal some pretty serious allegations against very senior public officials in this particular ministry. They range from alleged abuse of power, abuse of positions, misuse of resources to sexual harassment and more. They paint a grim picture of not just the Ministry in question but the Government as well. “The future of this person is at stake therefore the P.S.C. has to investigate in a methodical manner,” Tuilaepa said. “At the same time we are also cautious because if the government makes the wrong decision, they can be liable in the court of law.”Fair enough. But then Prime Minister then turned on the Samoa Observer. “The P.S.C. wrote to the Samoa Observer to stop publishing P.S.C. reports while investigations are underway, as it is illegal,” he said. “So this means the Samoa Observer is in contact secretly with those from the P.S.C. and others and money is being used to leak out sensitive issues while they are confidential. This is illegal.”Let’s set the record straight right here and now. The Samoa Observer – or any other serious investigative media outlet - would never entertain the idea of offering money for information. It has not happened and it will never happen.  We also want to point out that while sources are the lifeblood of a newspaper, the relationship is a two-way street. While the media will always be interested in the information – confidential or otherwise – to fulfill its role of adequately informing its audiences, sources leak them because they too feel that members of the public have a right to know. This is especially in cases where public monies, resources and positions of influence and power are involved.The ongoing investigation at the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration is one such case. And so do many other cases in the public service where information has been leaked to the Samoa Observer – and the media in general – over the years.Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens in a normal democratic society. The media exists not only as the fourth estate, it is also there as the watchdog of the Government to ensure accountability, transparency and good governance. Now when someone in a position of leadership wielding enormous power and influence such as the Prime Minister starts giving orders to find sources, the alarm bells immediately begin to ring. What is the Government trying to hide? And whom are they trying to protect? An individual’s right to privacy is one thing but the cost of abuse, neglect and misuse of public monies and resources is quite another. And far too often, this cost and its knock-on effect is swept under the mat and kept there because of these so-called confidential investigation and reports. This continues to encourage wrongdoing and unacceptable conduct in the public service. What’s worse is that the consequences of such abuse on silent and submissive taxpayers are enormous, affecting thousands of lives all the way down to the poorest and most vulnerable people of this country.The point is that of so many useful things the Government could utilise the P.S.C. and the Police for, why should they waste their precious time and public resources on a manhunt to corner the source or sources of information for a newspaper? Wouldn’t it be better for the P.S.C. to continue to investigate the many claims involving abuse of power, resources and corrupt practices within the public service? Shouldn’t the Government be more concerned about the cost of corruption and how much it hurts members of the public?As for the Police, don’t they have one of Samoa’s most dangerous convicts still at large? Have they not already got their hands full with all the thieves, robbers, rapists and other criminals hurting innocent members of the public to deal with?Wouldn’t that be a better use of public resources and personnel – as opposed to an investigation to find out who is leaking information to the media – in particular the Samoa Observer? Lastly, say they find the source, what then? How will that solve all these problems that have been exposed through the information leaked? How will that recover all the money allegedly lost? What about the heartaches and headaches caused by misconduct and abuse of position and power? Shouldn’t that be the focus of the P.S.C. and the Police investigation instead?What do you think?Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

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Street Talk

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Public gives thumbs up to new electoral law

This is a very good idea or amendment. It’s another way to refrain from using political and bias methods during the election because that’s been quite common these days. But yes I very much like this new amendment where people get to go to their real home villages to vote. I live in Upolu, and if this means I would go all the way to Savai'i to vote then I would gladly do so.It is very good in a way that it can help the electoral colleagues to ease their jobs in trying to sort out this and that because I know for sure it wasn’t an easy job before. To add on to my support, it would also be nicer for everyone to vote in their original or their own home village, because it would be fake if you vote for someone you don’t know, just because where you register is too far.I guess it’s something we can use to prevent the people from migrating from island to island, just because they want to vote for whoever they want to vote for. Another thing is that it’s an opportunity for everyone to be part of the development of their home villages. What I mean is like myself, I would love to go back to my village, even if it’s far and travel there to vote for whom I think is best for my village.It’s better for people to go to where they were born or where they’re registered to vote, so it would also showcase that this person belongs here and this person belongs wherever. It can also be an opportunity for other people, who haven’t visited their original villages and families for a long time, so they can go back to where they started and see how it’s been.I strongly support this new amendment. It’s not only because I would love to go back to where I come from or where I was born from – but it’s because if I vote in a place, where the person I’m voting for or even either of the two nominees, do not know me and what I want, what is the use of voting for him or her? I would rather go back to my home village and vote for the person that I know, is suitable for the position to take care of the people and even myself and my children.I think this should’ve been implemented during the previous elections already. In the past elections, I didn’t think it was right for anyone to just vote for whoever is being nominated, at where he or she is staying at. Most people don’t live at their real homes and they voted for people they don’t know, which is not right so with this new amendment, I’m happy that people will finally go back to where they came from and vote.

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Letter to Editor

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“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God…”

Me thinks Pr. Samoa Unoi of the Peace Chapel Christian Fellowship protests far too much when found out about his involvement with cryptocurrency. And in spite of his job description, I find nothing peaceful about his language. It’s also hard to believe he does not really care about the money he invests in cryptocurrency as he repeatedly claims. It only makes one wonder about the origin of such money. As for his rave against government interfering in how he spends money, the good pastor ought to know that the Central Bank of Samoa is duty bound to warn the people of Samoa about money scams that come to Samoa from overseas. The Bank is only doing its job as all good shepherds should.And in any case, the Central Bank did not tell the good preacher what to do with his money or with his flock’s money for that matter. What the Bank did was give a blanket warning about the dangers of these shady get-rich-quick money schemes, in the same way it warns people about pyramid schemes and counterfeit currency. And the good pastor may not be concerned about throwing money away, which incidentally is not what a faithful steward would do with heaven’s blessings. But most people do, and they will find the Central Bank’s warning of great value in avoiding being scammed. In fact, this is not the first time the good preacher has publicly shared his thoughts about money. The first time was to oppose the government’s proposal to tax church ministers like himself. He did not want to pay taxes and is one of only a few church ministers that spoke out publicly on the subject. As for Pr. Unoi’s claims about losing money by investing in UTOS, if true, he would be among a very select few who have had that happen to them. It makes you wonder whether the good preacher is not confusing UTOS with some other get-rich-quick scheme he is dabbling in.But no wonder the Good Shepherd told his followers to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth, nor rust doth corrupt, or where thieves do not break through nor steal” And if He was around on earth today, Jesus will no doubt have included as well all ge- rich-Squick scammers and prophets.F.S. SheepSamoa.

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