Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has described the penalties for traffic infringements as a "joke", during debate in the Parliament over a bill to outlaw street racing in Samoa.
One step forward for the marginalised, and Parliament’s “teething problems”
The recognition of the democratic rights of Samoa’s marginalised and vulnerable groups took a major step forward the other day.For the first time in the country’s electoral process, eligible voters with disabilities as well as senior citizens, will be able to cast their votes prior to the date of an election or a by-election in Samoa.The announcement of the pre-polling service – for the Fa’asaleleaga No 2 by-election – was made in the yesterday’s edition of the Samoa Observer. The story titled “Fa’asaleleaga No 2 By-election pre-polling begins” quotes the electoral commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio. The Fa’asaleleaga No 2 constituency has become the first in Samoa to offer a pre-polling service, to eligible voters living with a disability and senior citizens. The service ensures everyone gets an opportunity to cast their vote, even senior citizens who will have difficulties accessing the polling venues, when the by-election gets underway. Faimalomatumua told the Samoa Observer that those entitled to cast their votes through pre-polling include voters who are 65 years old and above, voters with disabilities and those migrating overseas on election week.Faimalomatumua said there are around 400 voters who have attained the age of 65 and above. “As of Friday, the last day of pre-polling applications, 94 have applied. Including in that 94 are people with disabilities and those who are travelling overseas this week.”Top marks to the Office of the Electoral Commissioner and Faimalomatumua, for all the behind-the-scenes work to ensure Samoa’s marginalised and vulnerable – who are eligible to vote – are able to exercise their democratic rights in an election. It will be good to get some statistics later from the Office of the Electoral Commissioner, which would show how many eligible voters – in that category of people – exercised their rights of universal suffrage. The Ministry of Women Community and Social Development (MWCSD) in 2014 published its Samoa Disability Sector Profile and Directory. The report stated that the number of Samoans living with disability remains unknown. However, it made reference to the 2011 Census which highlighted 4,061 people who identified as having “any disability”.Hopefully, some of those 4,061 people – who identified as having a disability – will be able to exercise their rights when the 2021 General Election comes around. Like the elderly from the ages of 65 or more, it is also their opportunity to participate in the democratic processes of this country.In December 2016, the United Nations (UN) in Suva, Fiji announced that the Governments of Samoa and Micronesia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), with the United Nations Human Rights Office commending both nations on their ratification. Two years after the ratification of the CRPD, an arm of the Samoa Government Samoa has kicked another goal, in its strive to empower the marginalised and vulnerable members of the community.While we look forward to seeing Samoa kicking more of those goals, we note with concern the plea from Journalists Association of Samoa (JAWS) president Rudy Bartley, to the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi. Mr. Bartley has asked Leaupepe to reconsider the protocols that the Speaker’s Office has imposed on the media, which barred the media from filming and taking photos while the Parliament is in session.Early this week the Legislative Assembly, when advising of the Parliament agenda, notified the media that the taking of photos and videos in the House while it is in session is now prohibited. “An area for the media is set outside the Maota Fono where cable can be hooked on for live feed. Photos will be taken by the Office of the Legislative Assembly and will be made available on our Facebook page immediately after the sitting," the notice from the Office of the Speaker stated.However, when the Parliament convened yesterday these media services were not available, and Parliament staff referred reporters to radio 2AP for audio. Mr. Bartley, who was disappointed in the turn of events at the Parliament yesterday, said the media industry was not even consulted on the new media protocols laid down by the Office of the Speaker.Echoing what the JAWS president said and given the Parliament House was only opened last week, we believe the the media industry and the Office of the Speaker are currently experiencing “teething problems” in their relationship, which can be resolved for the benefit of both stakeholders. Politicians and journalists have a special relationship. As legislators you make important decisions and implement policies on behalf of the public who gave you the mandate, and as journalists it is our job to scrutinise those decisions and policies and report back to the very people who gave you that mandate. Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa and God bless.Read Full Story
Public welcome new plane but acknowledge risk with Boeing MAX aircraft
The crash of an Ethiopia Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8 last Sunday and the death of its 157 passengers compelled the Samoa Government recently to defer the commissioning of its new Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft. This decision was taken following the crash of a similar model aircraft in Indonesia last October, which claimed 189 lives. Reporter Talaia Mika talks to members of the public to get their views on the issue. To me I think the Government's plan is a very good one, given the fact that our people are always travelling overseas every time. I think this is where our faith in God is tested. We are known as a Christian nation anyway, so I strongly believe that our nation is safe. In terms of Christianity and having faith in God. But yes I think we should still push through with having another plane because it's easier and it's for the development of our country.Personally, I think there is no reason to postpone or to withdraw from getting a new plane because we've seen how advantageous and nice it is to have another aircraft of our own. So much easier, faster and because our people are starting to notice some disadvantages of this brand, I think we should put our trust in the Government and the pilots to handle the safety of our people. But then again, it would be so nice to have another plane pertaining to our own people.I have always been hearing about this on the radio ever since the incident in Ethiopia, which is why I am strongly opposed to this new plane that is expected to arrive in Samoa. We don't talk with accidents so we don't know and we cannot tell when this accident will happen. Our safety is much more important and I believe that our safety should be the Government's number one priority. If this plane is same brand as the plane that crashed in Ethiopia, then I think there is a huge possibility that the same thing can happen with this new plane, especially as I heard it has something to do with its' control system.I think it's all about testing our faith as Christians. If we put all our trust in God and have faith that nothing will happen then I think it's possible that our expected new plane will have no problem at all. I know our Government's intentions to get the plane is to develop our transportation services and to develop our country so I don't see any reasons why it should be discouraged.To me, I don't want this new plane. If it was up to me, I would rather that we have this one plane at the moment to serve our people and try to ignore the risks of accepting the fact that there is a possibility that this plane might crash as well. But yes, if we don't get a different brand, then I think we need to stick with this one plane we have at the moment and wait until we get another aircraft of a different model. It's always good to learn from the mistakes and instead of ignoring the risks, it would be nicer to fix those risks. In specific, I think it's a very good lesson for our Samoan pilots, who will be flying this new plane, to study everything about the plane and learn from the mistakes that caused the recent plane crash. I feel that having a new plane would be so helpful to our development as a developing nation.Read Full Story
“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.Read Full Story