Nothing but the truth

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Alexander Rheeney

It was only yesterday when the Samoa Observer ran a front page story, which quoted a politician and a cabinet minister admitting that he was wrong, in assuming that a Chief Executive Officer had been terminated.

Getting a politician to admit that he or she is wrong is rare in this day and age, especially today with a lot of leaders refusing to accept criticism or come under scrutiny over their actions or decisions.

But there is no doubt that following the publishing of yesterday’s story, the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.), Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, got back some respect.

We do not have to look far to see how important it is for leaders to tell the truth. Just next door, in American Samoa, you have to wonder how the residents of the U.S. territory are feeling every time their President Donald Trump takes to twitter. Truth is becoming a highly sought after commodity, especially among and for those, who have been given the mandate to govern a community and a nation.

Therefore, we have to give it to Papali’i, for admitting that he got it wrong and for having the courage, and the guts to call us to make the admission.

“I was wrong I was under the assumption the contract has been terminated,” he said in an interview.

The Minister’s admission, hopefully, will have a ripple effect in the upper echelons of power and set the benchmark for Samoa’s leadership. If you make a mistake, admit it, learn from it and then move on for the benefit of the people. As they say “Rome was not built in a day” and Samoa’s path to prosperity will have challenges like any other democratic state.

Everyone has had a starting point to get to where they are today. In Samoa the founders of this nation professed in the Constitution that “Samoa is founded on God” and truth and the Word of God are intertwined and inseparable.

Therefore, when agents of Government give an undertaking to a particular section of the community, that there will be a consultation to give everyone the chance to have a say in the laws of the land, we expect them to reflect on the foundations built by the founders of this nation and make it happen.

Everyone wants to contribute to nation building in this great nation of ours, but when one arm of Government denies citizens that opportunity to participate then it calls into question the very foundations upon which this nation was built.

Hence it is tragic that the Ministry of Revenue (M.O.R.) has seen fit to cancel the consultation scheduled for September 21 with the business community. Data presented before the M.O.R. early this month confirms that the Alcohol Control Bill 2018 has loop holes and needs to be redrafted, factoring the concerns that the local manufacturers of liquor have highlighted in the last three weeks.

The proposed excise rates will have ramifications on their businesses and in fact has already led to job losses in some quarters. 

Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry C.E.O., Lemauga Hobart Vaai, has not thrown in the towel. That is if the email he sent to his members on Wednesday is any indication. 

“We thank all our members who have called in with their issues over the past three weeks and have brought data to support our case and submission we handed in last Friday as agreed to by Government, and your Chamber echoes your disappointment and frustrations on how this has been handled and the negative effects this has on industry.

“Your secretariat under the guidance of your council and with the issues raised by your membership will continue to fight on and lobby for a transparent process to ensure our voices are heard.”

It is unacceptable for the M.O.R., the Cabinet and the Government to shut the door in the faces of these businessmen and women, who have worked hard and contributed to the development and the success of this nation. They too deserve the truth from the Ministry, Cabinet and the Government and honour their word and hold the consultative forum as promised. 

The M.O.R., the Cabinet and the Government have probably forgotten that there are lives involved, and their decision to cancel consultations will now translate to families losing their ability to have food put on their tables due to being laid off by their employers.

Surely there is a champion out there who acknowledges the contribution of all citizens and is willing to create a level playing field for everyone. After all everyone wants a prosperous life and to live a life of truth. Have a beautiful Saturday Samoa and God bless.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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