State entities move prayer service to party headquarters

Three Government entities held their prayer service on Wednesday night at the Human Rights Protection Party’s headquarters at Sogi.

Government Ministries and offices would normally hold their prayer service every Wednesday at the Prayer House on Mount Vaea.

But the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, the National University of Samoa and the Samoa Qualifications Authority moved their prayer service to the ruling party’s Maota i Petesa on Wednesday evening.

The relocation of the prayer service venue coincided with the issuing of a circular to all Government employees by the Public Service Commission, for all public servants to be neutral in their social media posts as the country awaited the finalisation of the votes from last Friday’s general election.

Pictures of the prayer service at the H.R.P.P. headquarters were uploaded to the official M.E.S.C. Facebook page on Thursday morning. 

The pictures showed M.E.S.C., N.U.S. and S.Q.A. staff in attendance, including the M.E.S.C. and S.Q.A. Chief Executive Officers Afamasaga Dr Karoline Fuatai and Lealiifano Easter Manila Silipa as well as the N.U.S. Vice Chancellor Aiono Professor Alec Ekeroma.

Caretaker Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, told the Samoa Observer on Thursday that they had to change the venue of the prayer service to the party's headquarters based on the request of a church minister.

He said the same church minister was also leading the devotion service at the party’s head office.

“The church minister request the Ministry C.E.O. to have the service held at HRPP headquarters since he (pastor) who is also the one leading our evening devotion service,” Loau said in a telephone interview.

“Apparently, it is the Chief Executive Officer’s pastor and since it is on the day where we are supposed to have it at the Prayer House so we held it in the H.R.P.P. headquarters.”

The P.S.C. circular, which was also issued on Wednesday and dated 14 April 2021, was signed by the Chairman Aiono Mose Sua.

It reminded public servants to be cautious when expressing their views on social media, which the P.S.C. says could undermine the “political neutrality of the public service”.

“The Public Service Act 2004 makes it a requirement that all public servants must uphold the Public Service Code of Conduct and Values of the Public Service Commission such as impartiality and respect to ensure they fulfill their duties in a professional and unbiased manner,” reads the P.S.C. circular. 

Attempts by the Samoa Observer to contact Aiono to comment on the irony of the P.S.C. circular and the decision by the M.E.S.C., the N.U.S. and the S.Q.A. to hold their Wednesday prayer service at the ruling party’s headquarters were unsuccessful.

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