Passport decision final, says P.M.
The decision is final.
The former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and the Masiofo, Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese, will not be granted an extension of their diplomatic passports.
This was confirmed by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who is also the Minister of Immigration.
Tuilaepa rejected reports that his administration had decided to reconsider the decision. He said this is not a matter to be decided by Cabinet.
“This comes under longstanding policies put in place in accordance with the United Nation laws,” he said.
“Passports are important travel documents that must be utilised in a careful manner.
“What I mean is that people nowadays are using fake passports to enter countries with the intention of committing a crime.
“That is why when it comes to passports, all the details on it must be accurate, because if the details are incorrect the punishment is hefty if one is convicted.”
The Prime Minister pointed out this is not the first time they have dealt with issues pertaining to diplomatic passports.
“It’s not only (Tui Atua) Tupua who has sought a diplomatic passport. There were other former Ministers and Members of Parliament who had also requested for diplomatic passports.
“The passports are government property and the passport goes with your role at the time.
“However once you’re no longer occupying the position, you go back to using an ordinary passport because you are again an ordinary person.
“You cannot use a diplomatic passport indicating you are the Head of State when in fact you are no longer the Head of State. If we do that, then that means we are fooling other countries.”
Tuilaepa’s comments are in line with comments from the Head of Immigration and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo.
As reported earlier, the C.E.O. explained that the former Head of State and his wife, who held the position for ten years, had diplomatic passports during their tenure.
Once their term was up, the diplomatic passports were no longer valid.
This, he said, has been a long-standing government policy.
The C.E.O. explained that diplomatic passports are made available to relevant government officials including the Head of State, Members of the Council of Deputies, Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister while they are in office.
He said there are three types of passports. These include the diplomatic passport, official passport and ordinary passport.
“There are regulations which govern the issuance of diplomatic passport that are mainly for government officials,” he said.
“For example, the Head of States, Council of Deputies, Members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers and the Prime Minister." “From the beginning, it is policy that once the official no longer holds the position, the government cancels the diplomatic passport."
“The reason the passport is cancelled is that it goes together with the designation,” he said. “This same practice applies to the official passports for the C.E.O. position."
“Once you are no longer the C.E.O. the official passport will also be cancelled.
“This is the normal practice; once the official title is cancelled it’s likewise for the diplomatic passports.
“This however does not apply to the regular passports, once the official passport is cancelled the regular passport is still valid which he or she can use anywhere in the world.”