Fiery email shows leaders aren't role models

By The Editorial Board 31 May 2023, 10:00AM

It is not very often that electronic mail or emails, as they are called in today’s rapidly evolving technology-dominated world, makes front-page news unless they reveal scandalous conduct or action that could tarnish the image of public officials or a government.

Emails like other communication platforms have protocols governing their use and how people should conduct themselves when using the technology. Government ministries and agencies as well as private-sector organisations or companies have email regulations – which set out the parameters on what you can or cannot do with your workplace email.

There is even email etiquette for users of the communication platform, which places an emphasis on using the platform to manage and promote professional relationships.

A recent email exchange that was leaked to the Samoa Observer between the Faleata No. 3 M.P. Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi and the Samoa National Provident Fund Board Chairman, Papalii Panoa Tavita was not a good portrayal of the public offices they represent.

The email was the focus of an article (Board members in a fiery email exchange) in the Sunday edition of the Samoa Observer.

The email exchange sighted by this newspaper showed Leala querying the validity of the appointment of Papalii to the Board of the Sheraton Beach Resort. It started when the Board Secretary sent an email inviting all board members to a meeting next month. Leala questioned the secretary in the email as to why the meeting was being called when S.N.P.F. is yet to appoint a Chief Executive Officer. The politician’s response to the Board Secretary led to Papalii responding in fury. This then escalated to furious exchanges between the two men with name-calling, personal attacks and allegations of corruption hurled at each other, which was also copied to all the other Board Members.

It was unacceptable for both men, who are leaders in their own right as a Member of Parliament and the S.N.P.F. Board Chairman, to go down to that level. In fact attacking and insulting each other, in plain view of other Board Members, brought both their offices into disrepute. It is not the sort of conduct we want to encourage among leaders or custodians of public offices.

Looking at the accusations and counter-accusations, it is obvious that Leala and Papalii have a lot of history, and most of it is linked to today’s political divide in Samoa between those who support the ruling Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party and the Opposition-aligned Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.). Leala is the current secretary of the H.R.P.P. and Papalii unsuccessfully contested the Sagasaga No. 4 seat in the 2021 general election under the F.A.S.T. banner.

But politics shouldn’t come in the way of effective delivery of services to the people, through their distinct roles as an M.P. and the S.N.P.F. Board Chairman. They are both sitting on the Sheraton Beach Resort Board to represent the people, their constituency and the nation, and not their political parties or their political aspirations.

If they want to play politics then the two gentlemen should resign from their current positions on the resort’s Board, and make way for two new Board members, who will take their jobs seriously and be aware of the need to maintain the decorum of the public offices that they currently occupy.

With Leala and Papalii not seeing eye-to-eye, this frosty relationship is likely to impact their performance on the Sheraton Beach Resort Board and become a distraction, which doesn’t augur well for a tourism asset with the potential to generate more revenue for the S.N.P.F. and its contributors.

After close to 61 years of independence, this country and its people deserve leaders who are true role models with the ability to inspire others, work with their teams to achieve results, be influential and promote collaboration while setting the direction for the organisation.

Obviously, Leala and Papalii, through their recent email exchange, have shown to the public in Samoa that they’ve fallen short of the high standards required of them as Board Members and public officials representing the people and the nation’s interest.

By The Editorial Board 31 May 2023, 10:00AM
Samoa Observer

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