Who are these “small minded” people, Mr. P.M.? Do they include the O.P.C. Committee too?

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 07 July 2018, 12:00AM

The past few weeks has been an interesting time to be in Samoa, especially if you have been following the headlines in relation to the public service.

While Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has been doing his best to paint the picture of his Government being a well-oiled machine that’s sailing along ever so smoothly, some developments involving a number of senior government officials in the public service tell a different story. 

In fact, their behaviour is quite an unflattering picture, one that reflects badly on the leadership of this country. Whereas some of them have been suspended, charged and sacked over allegations of corruption and conflicts of interest, others are heading to Court to fight charges of forgery, obtaining by deception and theft as a servant. 

But that’s not all. Elsewhere, some public servants are being charged and hauled before the Court over different allegations of wrongdoing and so forth. It’s becoming quite a common occurrence.

Taxpayer-funded reports tabled before Parliament have also highlighted an alarming number of cases of abuse of power and misuse in authority among the public service that cannot be ignored. We are talking about cases of forgery, fraud and widespread abuse of public resources.

Whichever way you look at it, these are not the signs of a well-run Government machine. If anything, they point to a machine that is slowly but surely beginning to unravel from within where the leadership simply cannot control what is happening, let alone keeping a lid on it.

Naturally after following a string of these cases, anybody could be forgiven for thinking that corruption and skullduggery is quite widespread in the public service, right? It’s true that it might be only a few people but it only takes one fly to spoil the soup, doesn’t it? 

And that’s where Prime Minister Tuilaepa comes in. 

As the man who has been lording over the decision making of the public service for so long now, he must surely be concerned. On top of having the E.F.K.S. church to deal with in their refusal to pay their taxes, some people in the public service who are supposed to be helping him are not doing him any favours at all.

Which is a pity. 

And what does he have to say about all this?

“That goes to show those people are small-minded,” he said about people who are concerned about the perceived corruption in the Government. 

“We have policies in place to address these issues and if this was a corrupt country, we would not investigate and prosecute corrupt acts, but that is not the case here.”

Okay then. But let’s pause here for a moment. 

Who are the “small minded” people Prime Minister Tuilaepa is talking about?

Why doesn’t he just tell us who they are? If members of the public are concerned about corruption, how can they be “small minded”? 

Perhaps Prime Minister Tuilaepa can do us all a favour and tell us whom he is talking about in terms of his use of the words “small minded.”

As far as we can see, there is nothing remotely “small minded” about members of the public who are concerned about what has been going on here. They have every right to be concerned because this country – including the taxes that are being abused and misused in many of these cases – don’t just belong to people who work in the Government. They belong to all of us. Yes, you, me and everyone who pay taxes.

Let’s not forget, we are talking about a Government that doesn’t have the best of histories when it comes to dealing with corruption. Remember the O.P.C. report for 2010 and 2011? 

Although Parliament, as a collective body, had passed the O.P.C. report in question, subsequently accepting all the recommendations including legal action against the officials implicated in collusion and corrupt practices, up until now no action has been taken against any of them whatsoever. Which means justice has been, and continues to be denied by this Government.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is precisely why this country needs an Anti Corruption Tribunal. We believe this sort of stuff should not be swept under the carpet and ignored – which is exactly what has happened.

It is also why we need these “small minded” people not to be sidetracked by this Government’s proud tradition of name calling to divert attention from a growing rot that needs to be stopped immediately.

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 07 July 2018, 12:00AM

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