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P.M. to "consider" interview requests

The Prime Minister’s Office says it will “consider” a request to provide the Samoa Observer with the ability to ask unscripted questions of him in person in the lead-up to next year’s general election.

In a letter dated 19 May Samoa Observer Editor, Mata’afa Keni Lesa, wrote to the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga, requesting opportunities for reporters to ask questions of the nation's leader, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi. 

“I note with sadness that our questions for the Prime Minister regarding numerous developments in the country continue to go unanswered,” said Mata’afa.

“Where the Prime Minister chooses to answer them during his weekly programmes with other media, our Reporters are not invited to be present and therefore have to rely on second hand information to do their jobs.

“Even more important for us, Reporters are not able to ask questions on the spot, questions they need to get full answers about matters that are raised. 

“While your office and the Prime Minister have asked Reporters to send you questions, very rarely are these questions responded to on time, given our deadlines. In many cases, questions are ignored completely.”

The Samoa Observer has previously been afforded the opportunity to interview the Prime Minister face-to-face but this access has since been rescinded.

Instead, Tuilaepa has insisted that reporters from the newspaper submit questions to his press conference in writing and in advance.

Tuilaepa said that this “privilege” was afforded only to the Samoa Observer.

During recent regular updates posted directly to the Prime Minister’s Facebook page, he has fielded questions only from radio announcers from state-owned radio stations.

While a formal response to the letter was not received, in response to a followup question submitted in advance of today’s story, Nanai said that while he had conveyed the request for greater access to Tuilaepa there would be no change to policy.

“All your requests for comments including the request for a one on one interview have been directed to the PM personally and also via his Executive Secretary,” Nanai wrote on Tuesday. 

“The last time I personally raised your request with him I was instructed to notify you that the written question privilege is still in effect.

“And as far as the One on One interview request, he will consider it.”

In the past, the Samoa Observer had been allowed to sit in on the 2AP radio programme before asking questions at the end of it until the practice was ceased in 2018. 

All questions were then to be sent through Nanai and, typically, a 2AP Announcer would read the questions on air. 

The programme is one of several media outlets the Prime Minister has with different media companies including TV1, Talamua Media among others. 

Tuesday, 19 May

Talofa Nanai,

Trust this finds you in good health. Malo lava le galue malo fo’i le onosa’i.

I note with sadness that our questions for the Prime Minister regarding numerous developments in the country continue to go unanswered.

Where the Prime Minister chooses to answer them during his weekly programmes with other media, our Reporters are not invited to be present and therefore have to rely on second hand information to do their jobs.

Even more important for us, Reporters are not able to ask questions on the spot, questions they need to get full answers about matters that are raised.

While your office and the Prime Minister have asked Reporters to send you questions, very rarely are these questions responded to on time, given our deadlines. In many cases, questions are ignored completely.

Which is why I am writing this to again seek an opportunity for the Samoa Observer Reporters to ask Prime Minister Tuilaepa questions directly. 

If they cannot ask their questions during other media programmes, can the Samoa Observer be allocated a time slot on a weekly basis to interview the Prime Minister one-on-one? With the General Election next year, we believe it is very important for the Samoa Observer to have a window with the Prime Minister on a daily, if not weekly basis.

Over the years, we have gone from just a print newspaper to a full-blown mass media company. That means we now also have video interviews we feature for thousands of our audiences here in Samoa and abroad.

The Samoa Observer is not just the country’s biggest newspaper, it now has the biggest online portal in terms of news gathering and generation out of Samoa. Our readers and audiences, wherever they are, want to enjoy the same privilege your office is offering everyone else with an opportunity to hear and have the Prime Minister answer what they want to know, through our Reporters who are eyes and ears for members of the public.

Ma lo’u fa’aaloalo,

Keni

Tuesday, 2 June

Talofa Joyetter,

All your requests for comments including the request for a one on one interview have been directed to the PM personally and also via his Executive Secretary.

The last time I personally raised your request with him I was instructed to notify you that the written question privilege is still in effect.

And as far as the One on One interview request, he will consider it.

Again we will keep you posted on any new developments.

Regards


 

 

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