Who is more dangerous? Pig head thrower or two convicted criminals on the run?

You’ve got to hand it to this Government. As far as being thorough with immigration paper work goes, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s administration deserves an award. 

Nothing gets past them, absolutely nothing. Let’s think about this for a minute. Thousands and thousands of people arrive in Samoa every year. Many of them are returning residents, Samoans living abroad and of course visitors and tourists.

Now can you imagine all that tedious work involved in combing through each and every detail of the arrival cards of these thousands of people arriving in Samoa to ensure they are correct? And by the looks of it, they don’t just look; they go through them with a microscope. 

Imagine the amount of attention to detail to then pick up a certain individual by the name of Talalelei Pauga? If the name sounds familiar, that’s because he is. The Samoan man, who lives in Australia, is the infamous pig head thrower at an official event featuring Prime Minister Tuilaepa in Brisbane last year – during the launch of Samoa Airways Apia-Brisbane flights.

Last month, Pauga arrived in the country to attend a family matter. But being a person of interest to the Government for obvious reasons, his visit presented the perfect opportunity to take him to task. His alleged sin? 

The Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration’s Assistant C.E.O., Ve’atauia Fa’atasi Puleiata told this newspaper Pauga is accused of giving false information on his arrival declaration form. He is due to appear in Court next month.

But Ve’atauia declined to confirm which part of the form he was referring to. Asked when was the last time someone was charged under this law, he said: “I don’t recall, the last time, if ever anyone was charged under this Act.”

Is it a coincidence then that of hundreds of thousands of people who have arrived in Samoa over the years, that someone who is of interest to the Government, has become the first person to be charged under this law? 

When this question was put to Agafili Shem Leo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Chief Immigration Officer, he declined to comment.

“We are currently going through the proper procedurals on the matter and so I can’t comment. There will come a time, a proper time and the information will be revealed. It is not proper for me to comment at this stage,” he said.

Well fair enough then. 

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We’ve got to let the law take its course and believe that in due time, the truth will be revealed. Agafili though, issued a critical reminder, to all members of the public.

“You have to be truthful in the filling of your declaration form,” he said. “Under the immigration laws, similar to any other immigration law in the world, if violated the penalty is quite hefty for those who don’t fill their forms accurately.”

Agafili is absolutely correct. 

But can he assure this country that of hundreds of thousands of people who arrive in Samoa every year, that the only man to have allegedly provided false information on his arrival card is Pauga? This has got to be the million-tala question. 

You see, of all the people, it had to be Pauga that the Government has chosen to use as a grand example of what could happen – if you don’t fill out the card “accurately.” 

Which is interesting. Indeed, the idea that the Immigration Office in Samoa has after all these years – finally been able to charge a member of the public – let alone a Samoan, who has been making headlines lately, and standing up to this powerful Government – over alleged discrepancies in completing his arrival card is quite astonishing.

Wow. Just wow. Of course it has nothing to do with what happened in Brisbane and a lot of things Pauga has been saying publically? Don’t be silly.

If anything, this case is a timely reminder to all of us to actually wake up when we are filling in these cards. Perhaps, less Vailima onboard and more coffee, so that we pay full attention – when we put those details down, since now we know someone is combing through every single one of those details.

Ironically, while this Government has been hauling the very few outspoken Samoans to the Police station for one alleged crime or another, two extremely dangerous prisoners – who have been on the run since the beginning of the year – are still out there having a jolly holiday in paradise. 

Given that the weather has been quite unpleasant lately, these prisoners must surely have given up by now, if they were exposed to the elements, since everyone in Samoa knows they are the most wanted men in the country today.

But then that doesn’t appear to be the case. They must be quite cozy, wherever they are, with whoever is harbouring them. Which raises an interesting question.

If the Government can be so scrupulous in digging up and finding out Pauga’s alleged wrongdoing – and everybody else who has been speaking out publically against this administration – why can’t they be just as meticulous – if not more, with finding the escaped prisoners who have been hurting so many innocent members of the public, since they escaped last month?

Who is more dangerous? A man who wants to protest and speak his mind or convicted criminals who continue to enjoy freedom and the luxury of living among the community – when they should be locked up behind bars where they truly belong? Think about it!

Have a safe Thursday Samoa, God bless!

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