The bad and the ugly

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 16 November 2016, 12:00AM

Wherever in the world Prime Minister Tuilaepa might be, he should seriously consider getting on the next flight to Samoa. Ideally we want him to stay and enjoy those international meetings to save the world.

But then again his “children” need him now more than ever. The fact is their “little scrap” has just gone from bad to worse in the past couple of days the people of this country have every reason to be alarmed. 

And it’s no longer just a case of teething problems; we’re talking about an epileptic fit of gigantic proportion. 

Yes, in the Ministry of Police today, everyone is throwing a fit so that just about all senior Police officers have been suspended for one reason or another. We are sincerely concerned that we might run out of senior Police officers to maintain law and order.

What’s more, the worry is that with these things there is the potential that it could explode. After all, anywhere there is smoke; fire is never too far away. 

And with Police officers wielding such tremendous power and responsibility, if this fracas is not resolved sooner, we have every reason to be anxious. As long as Police officers are engaged in internal bickering and personal attacks driven by ulterior motives, no one is safe. 

Now unlike Tuilaepa who thinks his “kids” are only just having a little fun, we say this is not fun at all. It’s scary and these childish antics have become a major embarrassment for Samoa.

We’ve gone from the political stability capital of the Pacific to the laughing stock of the world within a few days. Today we want to say we are neither proud of the behaviour of the Police nor accepting of the latest developments we’ve seen.

We don’t need to tell you anymore about what’s happening. The details about the multiple suspensions, the fighting and what’s been going have been well told. What’s more, the unsigned letters, petitions from faceless police officers, officials who have only spoken to the media on the condition of anonymity and many other sources have painted a very unflattering picture of the Police. 

It’s been sad to watch. 

To be brutally frank; it doesn’t look like this mighty mess can be resolved internally. It’s already spilled out so publically and the details will continue to leak as long as there are simmering differences.

Naturally, people will take sides and believe whatever they want. Which is okay. 

From our standpoint at this stage, we are not so much interested in taking sides. Of course the truth will emerge and from there we will know exactly who has been doing what. The hammer will fall on where it needs to drop. 

In the meantime, this madness has got to stop for the sake of this country’s reputation. Often we talk about coups and political problems elsewhere near and far. This is the start of something we don’t want to think about the end if it’s not contained and sorted out now.

Which is why we believe Prime Minister Tuilaepa should come back and sort out this mess once and for all. 

And if he does not, he should seriously listen to opposition Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, who has called for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate what is going on.

The Member of Parliament is concerned about Members of the Public.

 “How can the Police investigate people and go out to deal with the public if they cannot deal with their internal issues?” Olo said. 

Now here is what’s really worrying. You see, Olo compared the situation to an incident where a Cabinet Minister was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy between two fellow H.R.P.P members.

 “If we do not fix this someone might die from it,” said the M.P. 

“We all know what happened in the past about the Minister who was murdered.”

“We should never forget about the past and if this problem is not fixed people will die from it and the government has done little to resolve it.”

Well some people might say this is extreme and a bit alarmist but Olo has got a point. We can never ignore these things. Besides, if it’s true that history always repeats itself, we’ve got to be alert. 

Lastly, the most obvious question is how did it become this bad?

“This is not new in the Ministry of Police. How many times have we seen anonymous letters from police officers in the past about internal matters at the Ministry?” Olo said. 

“All those letters were addressed to the Minister and the Prime Minister and all they did was brush them aside without really looking into the things that were raised.”

“The writers of those letters were not gossipers as they said. They were trying to alert the leaders of our country of the internal issues that they did not see and only heard rumours of.” 

“The Minister in charge should have done something about it and take the accusations seriously instead of falling asleep and not doing his job to fix the internal issues of his Ministry.”

Olo said it is “disgraceful” to see Police officers turn on each other.

“It is such a disgrace that these internal issues are making headlines internationally. It’s a reflection of bad leadership from the Ministry, the Minister and the government.”

Olo has made some very legitimate points. This government will do well to listen and take his advice constructively. When the security of a nation is placed at risk – as it has been in this case - we need the leaders to stand up and take ownership of the problem and do something about it. 

What’s happening in the Police cannot continue. On Monday when Police officers scuffled over the decision to charge the Commissioner, we saw the bad.

But this could still get very ugly. Let’s pray it doesn’t reach that. May God help Samoa!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 16 November 2016, 12:00AM

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