“Stupid editor”, “stupid reporter” and public company called Samoa Airways

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

This much we know. Questions surrounding the performance of one of the Government’s grand inventions called Samoa Airways are not new. They have been around since the plan was announced to reinvent the airline’s international operations under the Samoa Airways brand and they will continue to surface until the Government comes clean about its performance.

Which shouldn’t be too hard to do. 

You see all Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has to do is to tell the people the truth. The questions are quite simple and straightforward. Is the airline making a profit, if so how much? If it is not, what is his Government’s grand plan to get the airline to a stage where it would eventually become profitable? 

These are legitimate questions which members of the public, who are funding the airline from their hard-earned taxes, are entitled to some answers. 

Besides, we are talking about a Government that cannot stop talking about transparency, accountability and good governance. All it has to do now is walk the talk. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to Samoa Airways, all Prime Minister Tuilaepa has been saying is stupid this and stupid that. Indeed, anyone who has raised questions about the operation of the airline has either been called “stupid,” an “idiot” or a “fool.” 

For instance, at the beginning of this year, he did not hold back when he blasted this newspaper, particularly this writer, for raising these very questions. At the time, reports came through that the Airline was a long way off from meeting its monthly financial targets.

 “What goes in the airline business is true in any kind of business, the Samoa Observer, Time Magazine or in Playboy. And it is not uncommon that a loss made in some months may be offset in later months,” Tuilaepa said. 

At the time, he reminded that Samoa Airways was still a baby.

“This great airline of Samoa has only started in four months and the Samoa Observer writes a stupid headline based on ignorance,” he said, adding that the Airline was going through the same phase the “stupid editor” went through when “he was a baby.” 

 “When he was just born, he rolled on his stomach, after sucking his big toes, the same toes that began to grow later, then he walked and then run.” 

Tuilaepa reiterated that a loss or profit could never be determined after the first five months of operation. 

 “An ordinary person who does not understand the technicality surrounding businesses can easily make a stupid mistake on the basis of an equally stupid report that the company is broke and therefore it should wind up.” 

He added that people calling on the Government to be transparent with the Airline’s current financial situation are also “stupid.”

“The only business that its profit can be accurately determined is a one-day business. One that is an ice cream bar that is put up during Flag Day or a chopsuey stall. That is the only kind of business you can determine to the final cent the accuracy of the profit making. Because it is the only business where you can total up the actual revenue, minus the actual expenditure equals the actual profit.”

Well that was at the beginning of the year. 

This week, Samoa Airways turned a year old. And to celebrate, Prime Minister Tuilaepa joined some Cabinet Ministers and senior Government officials for a trip to Brisbane to launch the airline’s newest route.

Prior to his departure, he was again asked the same questions, this time by Sapeer Mayron of Samoa Observer.

In response, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said reporters “don’t understand” financial records.

“There is no need to look at the record, because you don’t understand even if you look at the record,” he fired back.

Reminded that Samoa Airways is a public company, Tuilaepa said: “It’s not a public company. If it’s a public company, it is available to the public – that is my answer.”

Now hang on a minute Mr. Prime Minister. 

What on earth is he talking about here? As far as we know, Samoa Airways is a public company being paid for by taxpayer’s funds. Without those funds, that airline would have ceased to exist a long, long time ago.

By the way, those taxpayers have every right to know how the airline is performing, good or bad. That process is called transparency and accountability. It is an essential part of good governance—unless Prime Minister Tuilaepa and his administration of big laui’a have forgotten.

What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us. Have a productive Thursday Samoa, God bless!

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