When it comes to corruption, let us be reminded that no one is above the law

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 28 December 2017, 12:00AM

As 2017 draws to an end, perhaps now is the time for our leaders to make a serious and a more meaningful decision to eliminate this rot called corruption from our nation. 

We know this is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a while but for the sake of the future and the young generations of Samoa, leaders of today owe it to them to get started sooner rather than later.

Indeed, there is no time to waste. We agree that the issue is not new and it has been raised time and time again. 

But the need for action becomes more and more apparent each time. 

If there is a more pressing issue that’s holding this country back from progressing to where it should be, it is corruption. There is corruption in the public service, corruption in the church, villages and corruption in most places where money, power, positions and promises of riches are involved.

Some people casually joke that corruption is way of Samoa today. It’s a hard thing to accept but when people deliberately turn a blind eye on the smallest acts of wrong doing pretending that it is normal, that’s when we really have to worry.

But can we blame them? Are they not merely following the examples they see and are being set before them? 

We live in a country where big fishes get away with so much wrong doing all the time while your ordinary people are thrown to jail for the theft of $20 and toothpaste. Which is the travesty of justice in Samoa today.

This is why as a community we cannot continue to pretend that this is normal. This is not normal. Abuse of power, corrupt practices in the public service and churches and everywhere else needs to be stopped.

 We say this because it’s undeniable that the impact of corruption is there for all to see. It has enslaved so many of our people today so that all they see is suffering, hardship and shameful poverty up ahead. 

Many of them are yearning for the basics of life. 

We are talking about a clean supply of water, electricity, affordable health care, decent education, jobs, clothes food and so much more. 

But because funds that should have been allocated for those needs have been misused, abused and in some cases used as a result of collusion to defraud the public, the mess is hard to accept.

The irony is that perpetrators and the people who benefit from the fruits of corruption live as if they are invincible. They are protected by scaremongering laws designed to allow them to continue to enjoy their pathetic lives. They carry on like it’s normal because corruption has become so entrenched in the system that it feels like it has been legistimised. They do not care at all about the suffering of people whose lives have been ruined and affected by their actions. They drive around in their pimped up cars – some funded by the poor taxpayers – live in their flash houses, travel from one luxurious destination to the another on the sweat of the poor taxpayers. This is the irony of Samoa today.

We accept that corruption is not confined to Samoa. It happens everywhere around the world. But we get the feeling that our leaders do not care and perhaps are doing everything to avoid addressing it.

This is why we need to be talking about this. This is why we are reminding them today, as we countdown to the new year in 2018.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. We cannot allow corruption to reign and expect the end to be a happy one for everyone. Things need to change.

Perhaps a good start would be to revisit the call made by former Member of Parliament, Afualo Dr. Wood Salele, a few years ago about an Anti-Corruption Tribunal. 

Afualo said instances of alleged corruption identified by the Controller and Auditor General and backed up by the Officers of Parliament Committee give more than sufficient reasons for the establishment of such a body.

“No one, and I repeat no one, is above the law,” Afualo said. 

“If we break the law we will make sure that justice will be served. But that cannot be fulfilled unless we have the Anti Corruption Tribunal.”

Afualo reminded that the country has been suffering as a result of the government’s inability to address issues of corruption and abuse of power over the years.

“Nothing has been done (about the O.P.C report),” Afualo pointed out at the time. 

“Our belief is that Samoa has been independent for more than 50 years and it is about time we have a tribunal to answer to the public and how their funds are being used.”

We couldn’t agree more.

What do you think?

Have a wonderful Friday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 28 December 2017, 12:00AM

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