A tribute to our public servants

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 29 September 2017, 12:00AM

Yesterday, Samoa paused once more to pay tribute to the work of the public service. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi led the tribute with an inspirational speech we have published on page 7 of the newspaper you are reading.

In the speech, some very inspirational remarks were delivered. Coming from the country’s leader and most importantly the head of the Public Service, they inspire hope.

Said Tuilaepa: “I strongly encourage you to serve our country with professionalism, in a truly coordinated manner, ensuring that you as individuals be held accountable for your actions.  You must strive to become the solution and not the problem, to be facilitators rather than encumbrances.”

Tuilaepa went on to remind that public servants provide the solid and firm foundation upon which all the three prongs of government rely and depend on. He then delivered a very important point.

“Perhaps at times you may feel that your services have been taken for granted, that they go unrecognized and often criticized,” he said. 

“As public servants, we are just those – ‘servants of the public’, and while we may think that such a calling is demeaning, I believe that if you have the heart of God, you will find the grace to serve from a Godly perspective and with Godly humility.”  

“Today is without a doubt, a noble cause worthy of recognition and I thereby wish to express on behalf of the Government and the people of Samoa their congratulations and heartfelt gratitude.”

Well here at the Samoa Observer today, we join Prime Minister Tuilaepa and the rest of Samoa to congratulate all the public servants for their work.

From our standpoint, while our role in the media is as the watchdog of the government and the public service, which often means we play the unpopular part in this love/hate relationship, there is a time for everything. 

There is a time and day where appropriate acknowledgement must be made to appreciate good honest hard work. Today we recognise and acknowledge the important role public servants play in the development of Samoa. They are at the coalface of policy development, service delivery and when things don’t go well, they cop a lot of flak. Many of them are often the unsung heroes; their roles largely go unnoticed and unappreciated.

The fact of life is that as public servants, they will always be on the firing line when it comes to the negative backlash – and in some cases deservedly so.

But lost in the criticism is the fact there are also a lot of great things done by certain individuals who deserve credit and recognition. We’re talking about public servants who walk an extra mile to help and provide the services they are paid to offer. We’re talking about public servants who exceed and go beyond the call of duty to serve their people and country. 

Today is an opportunity for all of us to say thank you. Today is an opportunity to give praise where it is due and acknowledge their work. From the least important person in the office to the highest ranked official. They all have a role to play.

Last year in this column, we reminded that public servants are accountable to the public. It’s a point that is again being stressed by P.M. Tuilaepa on the front page of the newspaper you are reading.

It’s unfortunate that most of the criticisms leveled at public servants for the wrong or the good they didn’t do, are sometimes due to the apathy and corruption of their political masters. It doesn’t help that public servants are subject to the systems controlled and put in place by these very same people. 

But here is what is most encouraging. We’d like to think that a growing number of them are smarter and more ethical.

As we’ve said before, there is nowhere in this country’s belief system where it says public servants should serve to the point where they leave their brains at the door and blindly follow the instructions they are given from higher up.

Today, we want to encourage all those public servants that you always have a choice to speak up against corruption and all manner of dishonest practices you know is happening under your noses in the places where you work. 

It’s not easy and there will be a price to pay but if you want to make a difference, the people of this country will thank you one day. 

In the words of Parliamentarian Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

Keep that in mind. Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 29 September 2017, 12:00AM

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