Associate Minister questions P.S.C. over investigation

The Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, has questioned why the Regulator has not been suspended while the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) is investigating a complaint against her conduct.

“The [Public Service Commission (P.S.C.)] should consider previous practice where [Ministry C.E.O.s] were suspended pending the [outcome of an] investigation as per complaints by their employees: Why is the Regulator’s case any different?,” Leala asked.

The investigation against the Regulator, Lefaoali’i Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti, followed a complaint filed last month by her secretary, Fialupe Fuimaono Uelese.

The complaint against Lefaoali’i alleges “abuse” of authority, including mistreatment. 

The allegation was contained in a seven page letter, which was written in Samoan and vehemently denied by Lefaoali'i. 

The complaint was addressed to the P.S.C. Chairman, Aiono Mose Su'a, with the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, also copied in. 

The Samoa Observer approached the Minister for the same portfolio, Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, on his views on the matter and he declined noting the authority to make such a call comes from the P.S.C. 

“I have no comment, it’s the P.S.C. that deals with that,” he said. 

But Associate Minister says there appears to be different rules for different matters.

“For example, there was the case of then C.E.O. of Justice, a complaint was lodged by one of the drivers, the P.S.C. investigated and then C.E.O. was suspended; likewise for the case of former Clerk of the Legislative [Assembly]," he said. 

"And it begs the question why is this case any different? 

“The complaint was lodged by the Secretary and therefore, to protect the integrity and assure accountability, the P.S.C. should do what is right and when the investigation is completed, whatever the outcome is, the public will not question the investigation. 

“I am talking about fairness and due process."

The Samoa Observer approached the Commissioner of P.S.C., Aiono Mose Sua, for a comment on the issue.

He responded by requesting that questions be put to him via email. 

Emails sent to Aiono have not been responded to. 

In the complaint letter, the secretary alleges some of the tasks assigned to her were not within her “job description” however out of respect for her superior she carried them out anyway. 

Ms. Uelese claims that during working hours, she was tasked with running what she alleges were personal errands. 

The Regulator vehemently denies the allegations. 

“I strongly deny the allegations and other false accusations made by the secretary,” she said in response to a previous emailed reequest for comment from the Samoa Observer.

Lefaoali’i said the allegations had been seriously damaging to her reputation:

“[They] are unfounded and defamatory to me and how I carry out my duties and responsibilities within the Office of the Regulator," she said. 

“The secretary’s allegation has tarnished my good reputation that I have worked extremely hard to earn.” 


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