“I was wrong,” Minister admits error in reading of Public Works C.E.O. decision

The Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.), Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, has admitted making a mistake when he told the Samoa Observer the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) had terminated the services of the Chief Executive Officer of M.W.T.I., Afamasaga Su’a Pou Onesemo.

“I was wrong,” he said yesterday. “I was under the assumption the contract has been terminated.”

The information, which led to a front-page story titled “P.S.C. terminates services of Public Works C.E.O.” on Wednesday 19 September 2018, was relayed by the Minister during an interview at his Office on Tuesday. 

The interview was at the request of the Samoa Observer for an update in the suspension and the investigation of allegations against Su’a.

Yesterday, the Samoa Observer was informed that the P.S.C. had written to the Minister to remind him that they have not terminated the services of the C.E.O. 

Repeated attempts to get a comment from the P.S.C. Chairman, Aiono Mose Su’a, have been unsuccessful. Questions sent to Su’a have also not been responded to.

Yesterday, the Minister contacted the Samoa Observer to say he had made a mistake.

“When the P.S.C. sent me the letter, I assumed it was about the termination, given the context was asking me for comments on the C.E.O.’s job description,” Papali’i explained. 

“The contract for the M.W.T.I. C.E.O. will be advertised in January. The process is that, submissions must be retained from Ministers, if there are any additional duties and functions for the contract. 

“So all along, when I received the letter asking if there are any additional information required under the duties and functions for the C.E.O. position, I assumed he (Afamasaga) was terminated. 

“I have already submitted my comments under the assumption the contract has been terminated.

“I didn’t ask for an explanation or whether he (suspended C.E.O.) was terminated. I received the letter and made the assumption.” 

The Minister would not give the Samoa Observer a copy of the letter. 

On Tuesday after the interview with the Minister, the Samoa Observer contacted Afamasaga for a comment.  Afamasaga, who remains on suspension, said he was not aware that his contract has been terminated. 

 “[I] didn’t get any notification of termination,” said Afamasaga.  He maintained his innocence vowing to fight the decision to terminate his contract. 

Papali’i said the error is regrettable. But he also hit out at the P.S.C. for not informing the public about the status of their investigation into allegations made against Afamasaga.

“They should face the press and relay the correct information; this is why people suspect there is something fishy going on,” said Papali’i. 

“I want to make that clear, as I don’t want Su’a to think I terminated him without going through the proper process.”

Asked if he had contacted Su’a, the Minister said no. 

 “No, I just want to make it clear that it was a wrong assumption by me.”

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