Let us be reminded once again why this country needs an Anti Corruption Tribunal

There is never really a dull moment in paradise, is it?

At any given time, there is always controversy of some sort; someone somewhere in a public office is getting up to no good.

Which is precisely what has been happening a lot lately. In fact, the past few months in sleepy old Samoa have been a jolly interesting time if you have been following the headlines.

What with the developments in Parliament, the Judiciary, National University of Samoa and in many Government Ministries, it’s fair to say that poor Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has had a handful.

How long he can continue to keep up and try to keep everything together is the question? You see, as the man with all the answers in Samoa – or so it seems - he’s been doing his best to put out fires happening all over the place.

The worry is that one man cannot do this forever.

One of these days it’s all going to come crumbling down and it’s going to look quite messy – which is kind of what we are seeing already.

The truth is that when we stop to look at a lot of what has been happening in Samoa lately, especially in the Government and in public offices, it is not a good reflection on the leadership of this country.

And the buck stops with none other than Prime Minister Tuilaepa himself. As the man who has been lording over the decision making of the public service for so long now, he needs to do something.

We say this because the existing systems don’t appear to be working.

Look around us. Whereas some high profile officials have been suspended, charged and sacked over allegations of wrongdoing, abuse of power, conflicts of interest among others, some other officials and ex-officials continue to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons. They are in Court and are being investigated for all sorts of reasons.

But that’s not all.

For the past several years, taxpayer-funded reports tabled before Parliament have highlighted an alarming number of cases of abuse of power and misuse in authority among the public service. We are talking about cases of widespread abuse of public resources and to an extent, corruption. Whichever way you look at it, it is not a good look for Samoa. And they cannot be ignored.

It is obvious Prime Minister Tuilaepa needs help. Which is why, today, we believe one of the best things this Government can do to alleviate the scourge of corruption is to establish an independent Anti-Corruption Tribunal.

It’s a point that has been made several times in the past. We get it.

But we strongly believe that if there was a time where such a body was needed, it is now. The establishment of such an office could perhaps be one of Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s legacies, if he chooses to pursue it for the sake of transparency, accountability and good governance.

The truth in Samoa is simple enough. There is corruption in the public service, corruption in the church and corruption in most places where money, power and promises of riches are involved.

Which is all the more reason why we need to have a body to investigate all these officials. Even more important is to ensure the Government has absolutely no influence on the establishment of an Anti Corruption Tribunal. We say this because it seems like everyone else is being investigated for one reason or another except for the politicians.

In the past, former Member of Parliament, Afualo Dr. Wood Salele, had campaigned for the Tribunal. When he was in Parliament, Afuala insisted that instances of corruption, many had been identified by the Controller and Auditor General and backed up by the Officers of Parliament Committee, gave more than sufficient reasons for the establishment of a national body to tackle corruption.

Listen to Afualo again: “No one, and I repeat no one, is above the law including the Prime Minister and all of us. If we break the law we will make sure that justice will be served.

“But that cannot be fulfilled unless we have the Anti Corruption Tribunal.

“I know Tuilaepa has been saying that we have the Ombudsman and of course we know that but we have seen a lot of cases now where people are not satisfied with the mandate of the office so we really need to make sure that what they do will be fulfilled.”

Afualo had also reminded that the country had been suffering as a result of the Government’s inability to address issues of corruption and abuse of power.

“Our belief is that Samoa has been independent for more than 50 years and it is about time we have a tribunal to answer to the public and how their funds are being used. No one is above the law.”

We couldn’t agree more. Ladies and gentlemen, this is precisely why this country needs an Anti Corruption Tribunal. Let it be Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s legacy project to clean up the rot we are seeing all over the place in Samoa today.

What do you think?

Have a restful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

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