P.M. laments public disobedience
The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has lamented disobedience shown towards the state of emergency after witnessing breaches from the first day they were issued.
State of emergency orders, more than 20 in total, included the suspension of public transport (taxis are allowed), as well as public gatherings of more than five people, including family occasions and church gathering.The orders take effect for two weeks, starting March 21 to April 2.
Speaking live on radio on Saturday night, Tuilaepa compared the situation in China, a communist country, to democracies such as Samoa and the importance of heeding the orders given by the Government.
“When something goes wrong they always ask 'where was the Government?', they always blame the Government,” he said.
"It seems China has resolved the disease and people are getting back to work, meaning the people and the doctors of China now have great common knowledge to settle this virus.”
"And now that it's in democratic nations, there are so many affected as some tend to think lightly of such things, and this same mindset kind of affects us too.
"Despite the orders issued, the people did not adhere. Just like this morning (Saturday), there were people gathering at the airport and people coming who are not Samoan nationals and those who flew in sick."
The Prime Minister highlighted that the Cabinet will continue to meet and make crucial decisions for the betterment of the people of Samoa, especially when 48 per cent of Samoans are diabetic.
“All these preparations we are doing are preparations to protect the lives of our people. So they need to listen intently and adhere,” he said.
“Right now the Government is being proactive and observing what is happening overseas and no country is being spared by the virus.
“It is a deadly virus, we don’t have enough doctors.”
The Government of Samoa has been discouraging the general public from travelling overseas to affected countries as well as those overseas wanting to fly over for family occasions.
"It is very crucial for our people to follow these restrictions. They see what is happening overseas and yet they still want to travel, and yet now it is time to really be vigilant and that's why we have completely restricted flights between Australia and one flight to New Zealand per airline a week," he said.
Tuilaepa suggested that for convenience and protection of the wider public, during family occasions (fa'alavelave), those overseas can handle their own, while a fa'alavelave in the country can be handled by local family members.
"They do not have to come, just send over the money,” he said.
"Because they may come and bring the virus with them.”
On the Lali programme, the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, pleaded for the public to adhere to the state of emergency orders after seeing breaches from the first day.
A wedding at the Livingstone Church at Vaitele on Saturday was stopped by the Police.
Fuiavaili'ili told the Samoa Observer that he had Officers dispatched to the church with orders to disband the gathering as it was in breach of orders.
Officers were also dispatched to Faleula to disperse the Methodist Church’s National Young Women’s Conference at Faleula on Saturday, the Police Commissioner revealed.
Breaches of orders can attract a fine of up to $10,000 tala or two years imprisonment.
Fuiavailiili reminded the public that the Police arresting and laying charges and fining someone a hefty amount for breaching is not the spirit of the Police's role, but rather to advise the public.
"We are not there to make it hard for our people, we do not want to increase stress. We just want to make sure they are safe and compliant," he said.
"The thing is, the Police are not quick to make any arrest as it’s not our intention here, we don’t want to lock anyone up. And again, we don’t want to go there, that’s the last resort but if Police have to then we will but that’s not the spirit here."