‘A slap on the face’
World heavyweight champion, Lupesoliai Joseph Parker, might have been the darling of Samoa for the past few days but the government’s decision to grant half a day public holiday for public servants only has incurred the wrath of many.
One of them is outspoken businesswoman, Moe Lei Sam, who has added her voice to a growing chorus of discontent from members of the private sector who missed out on the parade of the year because they had to work.
She said the decision is an “absolute slap on the face.”
When Prime Minister Tuilaepa announced the decision, it was immediately criticised.
“There should be a public holiday for everyone since Jospeh Parker belongs to all of Samoa, not just public servants,” Wesley of Vaitele said.
Another member of the public, Ricky, agrees.
“I don’t think it’s fair that only public servants get a half day off. We should have a day for everyone to celebrate. Joseph Parker belongs to all of us. So everyone should be given the chance to be part of this victory.”
Aotearoa from Apia said he felt sorry for members of the private sector.
“I feel sorry for workers of the private sector though. They should have been given a day off too,” he said.
According to Ms. Lei Sam, as a member of the private sector, she would not have minded everyone being granted a public holiday for this one time.
“We are all Samoans and we wanted to be part of the celebration too,” she said.
“Why are we being treated differently? Having the public servants to enjoy the public holiday all to themselves while the private sector members are working is unfair. It speaks of a country where there is one rule for others and another for different types of people.”
Ms. Lei Sam congratulated Parker. “We are all proud of him. The fact is that the government has given him our taxpayers money to help him earn the title. And now they have turned around and slapped us on the face again with this government workers only holiday.
“What kind of country is this? And so what exactly are we getting from Joseph Parker’s victory apart from silly pride and puffed up egos?”
Ms. Lei Sam also took a trip down memory lane.
“Why didn’t we do the same for David Tua and other players who lifted up Samoa’s profile? Why didn’t we give Tua a public holiday? Was it because he was just a boy from Faleasiu and not a member of a prominent family? Or is it because Joseph Parker is a member of the Prime Minister’s family?”
Ms. Lei Sam said she does not want to speak up all the time about these issues but she believes many people are wondering silently because they don’t have the guts to speak up.
Besides, she said this is not the first time the government have given half days to public servants.
“I think there should never be a public holiday if it’s not for everyone. This is a country that belongs to all Samoans. It doesn’t just belong to Tuilaepa and the government workers.”
Ms. Lei Sam’s also called on the general public to rise up and do something about these “injustices.”
She also said the Prime Minister should stop pretending that Samoa is not in a mess.
“The way I see our country it’s not improving, we are moving backwards,” she said.
“Poverty and hardship is everywhere. We are heading into another year and I see no changes in our country yet.”
When the Prime Minister announced the half day holiday, he said the government doesn’t wish to interfere with the private sector as they have often expressed concerns about the cost of paying people for not working.
“The question, why the government employees only?” Tuilaepa said.
“The reason is, we want the businesses to grow, to contribute to future boxing tournaments. This has been the concern for the private sector that we have too many public holidays.
“So this is one public holiday that we will restrict to the government employees only while allowing our private sector people to keep working, slugging it out for the future of boxing in Samoa.”