Special Cabinet exemption allows Chinese nationals' arrival

Cabinet has allowed select Chinese nationals to enter Samoa via sea, leading former independent M.P., Olo Fiti Vaai, to label state of emergency border controls a “myth”. 

A confidential cabinet document provided to the Samoa Observer shows that an exemption allowing four Chinese nationals to be allowed entry into the country by sea on request from Huanan Fishery was passed in August. 

That decision is spelt out in a special Cabinet Directive FK(20)34, dated 4 August.

The Directive suggests that four Chinese nationals - Honghai Miao, Aiguo Shi, Xiao Wang and Jing Wu - were given the green light to enter the country through a fishing vessel which was exchanging sailors at the docl.

The directive notes that three Samoan sailors were intended to be swapped with the foreigners at the dock. 

The local sailors are named as Maselino Sauileoge Tifaga, Tomasi Lewis and Siaosi Ponifasio.

Multiple efforts to get a comment from the individuals listed in the FK have been unsuccessful.

Olo claims the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, is not being truthful about the state of emergency border restrictions by allowing foreigners into the country via fishing vessels. 

“They are also not following their explanations and policies stated in the [state of emergency]; they aren’t,” he said.

“How can the whole country seek to keep the country safe at our borders when fishing vessels are bringing in foreigners?

“Fishing vessels are bringing in Chinese nationals, not through the planes, but they are coming through the boats.”

The criticism from the former M.P., who had his seat declared vacant this week, comes as Samoa on Wednesday decided to extend the state of emergency by another 30 days.

The former M.P. claimed that the Ministry of Health’s denial of entry to the sailors was overridden by the special request from the Cabinet. 

“My concern, here again, is the preferential treatment the Government gives its people and the Chinese people,” Olo said.

On Wednesday night, the national state of emergency was announced to remain in force for another month.

With a signature from the Head of State Tuimalealiifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II, Samoa has begun its eighth month under a state of emergency, with restrictions on social and public life as well as the necessary border closure.

The official dates of the renewed state of emergency are Tuesday 27 October to Sunday 22 November.

Restrictions still in place include a curfew on dining, nightclubs, and supermarket hours, and a widespread ban on activities on a Sunday. 

This still includes the ferry service between Savaii and Upolu.

National borders were closed in March. 

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