Facebook, church and corruption

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s back to business as usual today now that everyone has had a decent break during the past few days. 

Indeed, Good Friday and Easter Sunday came just in time for many of us to take a much-needed breather and unwind.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and his administration definitely needed some time out, judging from what was on the front page of the Sunday Samoan two days ago. 

Whereas the biggest denomination in the country is standing up to the Government by flatly refusing to pay taxes as the law demands, Facebook has been giving Prime Minister Tuilaepa some sleepless nights so that today, he has finally threatened to put an end to all this madness. 

How? Well he is threatening to ban Facebook altogether. 

Keep in mind that both stories surfaced on 1 April 2018 and it did cross the mind that perhaps they were both really bad April Fool’s Day jokes. 

It turns out they were not. Let’s take a closer look. 

First, the issue of taxing the income of pastors has been a controversial one from the start. And just when we thought the Government had gotten away with another big one, along comes the biggest denomination in Samoa throwing its weight around.

Now it appears that the Elders Committee of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) is firm they will not obey the law.

This is according to the minutes of their meeting held on 14 March 2018. A copy of the minutes has been leaked to the Sunday Samoan.  

According to the minutes of the meeting, the denominations had asked the Elders Committee for a decision considering that C.C.C.S. Church Ministers are now breaking the law by not paying taxes.

But the Elders Committee is standing firm. It has insisted to leave the matter for discussion at the Fono Tele. Which means that from now until May, C.C.C.S church Ministers will continue to defy the Government and not pay a single sene of tax.

Interestingly enough, two weeks ago, Prime Minister Tuilaepa reminded that “no one is above the law.” He insisted that all the Churches should pay their taxes.

Now in light of this recent development, what will Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s government do next? Will they just prosecute all these Church Ministers for breaking the law and throw them in jail? 

Or will they be threatening to ban churches too? Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Nothing surprises anyone anymore about what’s happening in Samoa today. 

Now look at the threat to ban Facebook for example. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is sending Samoa back to ancient days. You cannot have a Government promote Internet Technology as if our lives depended on it on one hand and then on other threaten people with such a ban? The contradiction is hard to ignore.

Here is what we think. What the Government should do is stop playing these silly mind games and really go after the people they think are behind ghost writings they have been on about for far too long. 

Folks, for some time now, Prime Minister Tuilaepa has been saying that he knows the people behind the posts. If that is so, why haven’t they prosecuted them already? Why hold an entire nation to ransom for the actions of an individual or a few? 

The bottom line if they are serious, stop making these silly threats and get on with the business of doing what’s needed to put a stop to this once and for all.

Get some people who can find these culprits, wind them up and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. We are tired of listening to these same old stories, especially coming from Prime Minister Tuilaepa who continues to claim that he knows these people. Enough. It’s time to put up or shut up.

The leaders of this country have far more important issues to deal with. Remember claims of collusion and corruption raised by the Controller and Chief Auditor in his report, and backed by the Officers of Parliament Committee (O.P.C) a few years ago? 

For people who might not be aware, the O.P.C is made up of seven Members of Parliament, four from the Government and three from the Opposition. They were told to review the report by the Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele, for the periods ended 30 June 2010 and 30 June 2011.

Fuimaono’s report was alarming. It revealed instances of unbridled corruption within certain government corporations over a number of years.

After the review, the O.P.C report, tabled before Parliament, confirmed the claims about corruption raised by the Chief Auditor. More importantly, it recommended that “legal” action be taken against a number of public servants implicated in “corrupt practises” among other things.

Today, we are back to square one with the main question being, will justice ever be achieved in this country? We ask this because we live in a country where members of the public are jailed for stealing amounts that are as little as $50.

How then can certain public servants be allowed to walk away given findings such as the ones highlighted by the O.P.C where millions have been misappropriated and abused? 

Are there different rules for different people in Samoa today? Or have public servants been given a licence to abuse and rob the public of what is rightfully theirs? Tell us what you think.

Have a great Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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