Government’s R.S.E. "blacklist" hypocritical, shameful

How about this for an idea? Since Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his administration have initiated a name and shame blacklist — humiliating some of the poorest people in this country for various offenses including extra marital affairs — why don’t they issue a similar blacklist for everyone else in Government who are also guilty of similar offenses?

You see, the list of crimes is quite inclusive, ranging from theft, alcohol consumption, fighting in a bar, stealing beer, dangerous behaviour to extra marital affairs.

But here is the point; can anyone tell me that this is not happening in Samoa today? Can anyone tell me that this is not happening in the Government? The Church perhaps?

For the uninitiated, we are talking about a blacklist issued by the Government targeting workers in the New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employment (R.S.E.), who have had their contracts terminated for various violations.  Endorsed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa, the list containing the names and their villages was released by the Office of the Press Secretariat on Tuesday.

Said Tuilaepa: “The Public Notice serves as the last straw and to re-enforce the Government’s zero tolerance.

“It serves as a reminder and a discouragement to seasonal workers that disobedience and any undesirable behaviour, which will compromise more jobs for Samoans, will be weeded out without hesitation.”

Don’t get us wrong, we understand the Government’s frustration. We get it that they don’t want to risk Samoa losing out because of the behaviour of the individuals identified. 

Listen to Tuilaepa once more: “The seasonal employment programme will not and is not collateral damage due to the irresponsible actions by a handful of ungrateful Samoans.

“Time and again, I have personally advised all our R.S.E. workers before leaving to remember the importance of their seasonal employment engagement because it’s their families, children and their villages which are reaping the spins offs and fruits of their hard labour.

“Government is also not sparing any expense in securing new jobs for our people, and we are the only country in the R.S.E. Programme which has a pre-departure programme, to prepare the lucky workers handpicked for these jobs to cope with the demands of working overseas away from their loved ones and their comfort zones.”

Folks let’s pause here for a second. Why do these Government officials make it sound as if they are doing everyone of us a favour by finding these jobs? Newsflash: that is what the Government should be doing. They are paid to do that. In fact they are paid very, very well to find those jobs. If there are problems encountered, get on with fixing them. In the R.S.E., sack them and send them home. They shouldn't have any problems finding replacements. 

We accept that our people need to learn and they need to appreciate the hard work that’s being done to secure these opportunities.

But that does not give this Government the right to treat them the way they have done. 

Here's a reminder, even fruit pickers have rights, just like everyone else. 

Away from Prime Minister Tuilaepa, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Lautafi Fio Purcell, is equally upset and is standing by the decision to issue the blacklist.

Asked if he thought the decision to expose workers sacked for extramarital affairs wasn’t hypocritical, given the fact that it is also happening in the Government, Lautafi said this was beside the point.

“All I’m concerned about is those working under the scheme, I don’t care about the Government employees here,” the Minister said.

“They (R.S.E. workers) went there with conditions to provide for their families but instead they are having affairs and neglecting their obligations to their families. That’s not why we sent them.”

Lautafi added all the workers named have been expelled and will be sent home.

“They have violated policies put in place for the scheme and it’s good they were expelled,” he said. “We have women coming to our office, complaining they are no longer receiving any money from their spouses, they have neglected their responsibility to their wives and children. And the Government will not tolerate such unbecoming behaviour.”

Think about this for a minute. If the Government was doing such a stellar job with the economy here providing jobs, would there have been a need for these men to be separated from their wives and vice versa? If this country’s economy was flourishing where people made enough money to stay and be with their families, would we be having this conversation today?

And please don’t tell me that no one thought about the possibility of extra marital affairs, alcohol abuse and all the other problems we are seeing, as part of these overseas employment schemes?

What did we expect? The scheme basically separates these families for months, we are talking about husbands and wives. Yes there are needs (need I say more) and we are talking about human beings here.

Why is this Government surprised about what’s happening? Besides, these problems are not confined to Samoa. They are quite global and it’s also happening to other countries taking part in the R.S.E. Yet we don’t see Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and other participating Pacific island countries issuing a blacklist.

Why Samoa? Have we become such a self-righteous lot that some people think they can take the place of God when it comes to moral values and judgment?

Which brings us back to the point we made at the start of this piece. If the Government wants to get into the business of humiliating people for bad behaviour by naming and shaming them, then they shouldn’t stop with the R.S.E. They should extend the list to cover all those dirty little secrets floating around at the Government buildings and public offices in Samoa. This is a small country. Even the walls talk.

If this Government cannot provide a similar list for other Government officials guilty of the same crimes, not only are they hypocrites, the decision to humiliate these individuals is without an inkling of doubt is sheer abuse of power and position. 

Whoever came up with the idea should be ashamed. What do you think?

Have a great Thursday Samoa, God bless!

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