Health Chief fined for dancing antics
Samoa’s Health Chief was slapped with a $5,000 fine by the Fagali’i Village Council after a video surfaced of him stripping down to his underwear at a Government function in March.
Two Chiefs of the Village confirmed the punishment during an interview with the Samoa Observer on Tuesday.
The Director-General and Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Health, Leausa Samau Dr. Take Naseri, was approached outside of Parliament on Tuesday about his punishment but would not be drawn on the matter.
“No comment,” said the C.E.O. who evaded further questioning.
The video in question appears to show the Health Chief, removing most of his clothing while dancing to band DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night.”
The origin of the video could not be independently verified. But its release was believed to have come one week after an official Ministry of Health function, which a witness said was a “big party” that finished around midnight at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.
The Health C.E.O. is also a Chief in Fagali'i under the chiefly title Samau.
Taiali’isi’u Misiluki Luamanuvae told the Samoa Observer the Village Council initially set the fine at $10,000 but after negotiations, it was reduced to $5,000.
“I motioned to reduce the fine, given the incident is not a major issue; it’s just the way Samoans celebrate,” Taiali’isi’u said.
“I was against the penalising of the [C.E.O.] he has done many good deeds for this village.
“Other men climbed on the pole of the house and drop their lavalave and yet they are naked, and also they have the Samoan traditional tatau, just as [was] referenced by the Prime Minister [when speaking earlier about the incident].
“The [family] presented the fine to the village which included 100 tinned cases and $2,000 and this did not include the usual sua presentations to the High Chiefs. The other chiefs at the meeting each received $10 contained in an envelope,” he said.
Taiali’isi’u believes that Leausa did nothing wrong other than entertain the Samoan way.
“This is how Samoans celebrate and just like what they say ‘sasae le maka ole aiku’ [traditional folk dancing], I don’t see anything wrong with it and I don’t agree with the resolution our village resorted, but there is nothing I can do, the majority wins,” he said.
Another High Chief of the village did not want to be identified but confirmed the fine.
“He was penalised but I don’t want to talk about it anymore; he has paid his dues and I don’t want to expand on it anymore and I like to leave it as it is and referred the inquiries to the Village Mayor [Samau].
“We spoke to the family as he [Leausa] didn’t show up. And I am sorry I cannot comment any further.”
In March, the Chairman of the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.), Aiono Mose Sua, asked the Director General of the Ministry of Health, to explain his actions after a video of him stripping down to his underwear at a Government function earlier this month went viral online.
In an email response to questions from the Samoa Observer, at the time Aiono said the first time he heard of the incident was when he read the Samoa Observer’s coverage.
“We have asked and are awaiting a written statement as soon as possible from the Director-General,” Aiono said.
The Chairman was asked whether he considered the performance in the video appropriate or acceptable behaviour from a Government chief executive, and what actions his office would be taking in response. A reply was not received.