What conflict of interest? Surely not in Samoa, not in paradise!

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Conflict of interest seems to be the phrase of the moment.

You see with the recent controversy about conflicts of interest in different government bodies, we are reminded about an interesting episode involving the former leader of the Tautua Samoa Party, Palusalue Faapo II and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

The confrontation we are about to revisit came after Palusalue had accused the government of ignoring the multiple cases of conflicts of interest involving certain government officials in the lead up to the General Election of 2016.

Its what at the time was unheard of, the government had suddenly moved a number of national celebrations to Savai’i, a move which was clearly a cleverly calculated election ploy.

When Palusalue, however, dared to confront the government in Parliament, he was immediately shut down, and told there was absolutely no conflict of interest.

But of course there was no conflict of interest? 

This is Samoa where there is also no corruption, right? 

In any case, we thought the following epistle is worth revisiting in the light of all these stories about conflicts of interest being ignored and allowed to continue.

Under the headline “What are you talking about, Palu?” we said the following:

“Come on, Palu, you must be out of your mind!

Where do you come up with these “silly” ideas? 

Who said there is a conflict of interest in the government’s decision to take the multiple celebrations to Savai’i last week?

As a former Cabinet Minister, surely you should have known better. 

How dare you say that when this is a government that is run by the mantra of what’s good for Upolu is also good for Savai’i? Can’t you see how genuine they are? Can’t you feel it? Can’t you smell it?  

What have you been smoking? Or who have you been hanging with? 

It surely can’t be your buddies from the Tautua who are reportedly crossing the floor? Otherwise they would’ve set you straight right there and then since they seem to know more about the government’s plans than some of those H.R.P.P souls.

So where is the conflict of interest, Palu? 

Don’t you know that the good folks running the government today are super and squeaky clean (like Axion-shiny clean) that such an idea is unheard of anywhere near them. 

Yes, this is a bunch of guys who are doing so much good for the country it is an insult to even associate them with the idea that what they did was wrong – let alone use that pitiful term called “conflict of interest”.

Palu, sad to say, but you’ve got this wrong. 

Like, totally wrong, dude.

You should have done the honourable thing. You should have knelt, crossed your heart – don’t hope to die, because we want you to lead the Tautua in the election - and said you were sorry. 

Why is sorry such a difficult word for you to muster anyway? 

It should come naturally to you. You are your own person, a very responsible person too, if I may add.

By refusing to say sorry, you are starting to act like those folks across the floor in Parliament. They are perfect. You see; those guys can’t spell the word. 

It doesn’t matter if its corruption, collusion, pathetic performance in rugby, it’s never really their fault. There is always an excuse.

That’s why they’re such a great, responsible bunch. 

They’re so clever they will never have to use the word. 

Mind you, that’s what happens when they were all appointed by God. 

I guess they believe that only God can judge them. It is also why mere mortals like us are either “idiots”, “fools”, “little girls” and “little kids” in their eyes.

Oh God!

Don’t get us wrong Palu, we like you. We like you a lot.

In fact, we love you but you have really stuffed up this time.

You need to brush up on your terminologies, okay. Get them right.

Don’t ever associate the government of the day with that term conflict of interest. Remember, it doesn’t exist in their vocab. 

You’ll insult them poor angels.

Now here, we are only trying to help you, alright!

What is a conflict of interest?

If you have some data, google it and you will come across something like this:

*“A conflict of interest (C.O.I) is a situation in which a person or organisation is involved in multiple interests, financial interests or otherwise, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation of the individual or organisation.”

Read it three or four times. 

“Idiots” like us might need to read it a hundred times. 

And when you’re done, I want you to answer me.

Tell me the former Minister of Natural Resources and Environment does not have connections to Vaipouli?

Who told you the former Speaker, the Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga No. 3 had anything to do with the S.P.A.G.H.L decision? 

Okay he might have some connections to Sasina but it’s only his village, what’s the big deal?

As for Iva and the University of the South Pacific, surely you have to know that the decision was made ALL the way from Fiji.  And of course it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that the former Minister just happens to be the Member of Parliament for Faasaleleaga No. 1?

Lastly, there is absolutely no coincidence that all this is happening a few months from the General Elections. So of course there is no conflict of interest. 

What are you talking about, Palu? Just stop this madness. Stop imagining things.” 

Lastly, let us remind again today that this is Samoa, beautiful Samoa. It’s paradise.

Have a great weekend Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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