P.M. rejects conflict of interest claim, that’s “palagi thinking”

Former Cabinet Minister, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, has urged Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his Cabinet to revisit their decision on the Land Transport Authority (L.T.A).

Referring to the recent reshuffle where the Traffic Division of the L.T.A. would be transferred to the Ministry of Police, Faumuina cautioned Parliament that this would lead to a glaring “conflict of interest".

“When it comes to traffic, the Police Commissioner is the regulator,” Faumuina said. “If you remove the division that registers vehicles, issues warrants of fitness, ensures all vehicles are fit to be on the road (from the L.T.A.), if that function is taken to the Police, that means it’s a conflict of interest (for the Police).”

Faumuina raised the issue in Parliament yesterday during the discussion of the 2019/2010 Budget. The Member of Parliament for Palauli le Falefa said Cabinet’s decision to move the Traffic Division of the L.T.A. means the authority should change its name also.

“So when you remove the transportation aspect from L.T.A, it should be called the Construction Authority.”

The former Cabinet Minister suggested that the operation arm of traffic should be left with L.T.A. while the regulatory function should be moved to the Police.

“My humble advice is that it would be good for Cabinet to revisit its decision,” Famuina said.

But Prime Minister Tuilaepa intervened and told Faumuina to move away from the subject. He rejected the request saying the Government is not “tuivalea”** that it would continue to sit by while problems persist.

“There is always this idea that the regulatory function should be separated from the operational arm, that’s a palagi* thinking,” Tuilaepa said.

“Some people say (that a certain system has) been (around for) ten years and we should persevere for another ten. I’m telling you now the Government cannot wait when we see that there are problems that need to be fixed.

“Those kinds of systems are good for countries which have hundreds of thousands of people with different expertise.”

According to the Prime Minister, the ability to change and adapt where needed is both scriptural and cultural. That is what the Government is doing, he said.

“Take the Ministry of Health for instance. We had separated them but what had happened? The service was so poor.

“There are things we implement that go smoothly but there are some systems where we need to change gear immediately when we see that there are problems. Mr. Speaker that is the case in this matter.”

Referring to the system Faumuina was alluding to, the Prime Minister reiterated that such “international thinking” doesn’t necessarily work everywhere.

He said international systems are based on "outside thinking" whereas internal village governance is based on internal thinking, governed by village chiefs.

“With these kinds of (international) governance structures we are using, we are observing how other foreign countries are run and then we follow. A lot of it is based on opinions of different experts.”

Tuilaepa said Samoa does not have the luxury of that many experts, which means when there are problems, the Government cannot stay idle.

The Prime Minister pointed to an existing clash between overseas thinking and Samoan thinking.

“This is a constant struggle,” he said, “we have too many matai who don’t sit in village meetings so they can truly understand the Samoan culture.

“But we have so many professors who are writing about Samoan culture and traditions based on what they heard and yet they have no experience from sitting in the village meeting and learning the intricacies of true Samoan wisdom.”

He added that Samoa has its own way of thinking, that’s been preserved from generation to generation for close to 4,000 years.

Parliament continues.

*Palagi is a word used to refer to a person who is white or European 

**tuivalea is used to refer to someone who is not very smart

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