P.M. Tuilaepa, midnight dramas and Pastors refusing to pay taxes

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 23 May 2018, 12:00AM

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was the man of the hour in Japan last week. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

All you have to do is read the story titled “Japan pledges $4.6 million aid for Samoa” on the front page of the Sunday Samoan. The next day on Monday, there was another story titled “P.M. highlights climate change, oceans in Japan” – among other media content - highlighting Tuilaepa’s exploits in Iwaki City.  

First he successfully co-chaired the 8th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (P.A.L.M.) with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum.

As Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa also secured Japan’s continuing help through a pledge to grant T$4.6m aid. And to wrap up what a wonderful week it was, Tuilaepa was then conferred the “Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun” by Japan. The honour was to recognise his long contribution to strengthening the relationship between Japan and Samoa, as well as between Japan and Pacific Island countries. 

Well that’s wonderful, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t be proud of seeing our nation’s leader being honoured for his hard work? Congratulations.

But every good thing comes to an end. And with the red carpet treatment in Japan last week, Tuilaepa will soon be home. Back to reality and back to the joys of being Samoa’s Prime Minister. 

And what’s being happening in Samoa ladies and gentlemen?

In Tuilaepa’s absence, some of his Members of Parliament have been staying out quite late so that their domestic troubles have become points of national discussions.

Take the Associate Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, So’oalo Mene for instance. During the weekend, his little spat with his wife has become the talking point of Samoa. 

Yesterday, he rejected reports that the Government vehicle assigned to him was damaged when he became the target of a couple of beer bottles courtesy of a scorned woman.

“I invite you to look at the vehicle and you can see nothing was damaged,” he said. “I had a disagreement with my wife, and yes publicly.”

The Minister also wanted to clear the air after reports on social media that the Government vehicle was damaged. Poor Associate Minister; so concerned about protecting a lousy vehicle. It’s only a spanking new pimped up Government-owned Ford Ranger. What’s the big deal?

The best news is that he is alive and that none of those bottles landed on his head. It could have done some serious damage. Really.

Perhaps next time, he and his lovely wife can stay home and keep their troubles away from the public. Nothing a couple of Orchy drinks can’t fix? But if they insist on a night out, take a taxi. You are guaranteed a sober driver.

You see we need plenty of sober drivers on the road this week with the Malua annual conference underway. With all those people from overseas here, we want to make sure everyone is safe.

Speaking of the Malua conference, the most anticipated decision members of the public are waiting for is whether the church would insist on opposing the Government on the issue of taxing pastors and the Head of State.

Sometime ago, it emerged that the Elders Committee of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) was firm they will not obey the law.

According to the minutes of their meeting held on 14 March 2018, the Elders Committee insisted to leave the matter for discussion at the Fono Tele, which is happening this week. 

Now, Prime Minister Tuilaepa has repeatedly reminded that “no one is above the law.” He insisted that all the Churches should pay their taxes.

Let’s see. It means that since January when the law came into effect, C.C.C.S. church Ministers have been breaking the law, refusing to pay a single sene of tax.

What will Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s Government do next?

Will they just prosecute all these Church Ministers for breaking the law and throw them in jail? 

Or are there different rules for different people in Samoa today? 

Either way, Prime Minister Tuilaepa sure has his work cut out – the moment he touches down at Faleolo International Airport when that Samoan heat brushes his face. 

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 23 May 2018, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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