The Opposition Democratic Party is alleging political interference from the governing Cook Islands Party in the termination of civil servants on the island of Pukapuka.
Demos MP William “Smiley” Heather says government MP Tingika Elikana played a role in getting seven workers, who are Democratic Party members, terminated.
Elikana, the MP for Pukapuka-Nassau, last night refuted the allegations levelled against him and said the decision to terminate those workers was solely Island Council’s executive officer Pio Ravarua.
In a statement, William Heather alleges Ravarua “terminated four civil servants and suspended three” for various allegations “including disagreement along political lines and walking out in a council meeting”.
But Pio Ravarua yesterday clarified four employee were terminated and only two suspended.
Ravarua refused to comment further stating he was still in discussions with the Public Service Commissioner Russell Thomas on the details of his decision.
Efforts to get comments from Thomas proved futile as calls made to him last night remained unanswered.
William Heather said he had read all the letters of termination and suspension. He said he was saddened by the “demeaning allegations” of insubordination levelled against them and the insinuation that those alleged acts of insubordination were politically motivated.
Heather said politically speaking, these arbitrary actions of the executive officer against his party members were taken a little over a week after Tingika Elikana exited the island after his constituency vacation.
“As a student of our island politics, there is only one reasonable explanation for the timing of the unfortunate termination and suspension … I believe, the Hon. Member for Pukapuka did a lot more then vacationing on his home island, like whispering to the ears of the Executive Officer to start cleaning house and getting rid of these Demos so he can replace them with his own supporters.”
Tingika Elikana said: “I’m disappointed the Honourable William Heather is making these allegations without releasing the letters, so the public can have a fair idea of what the allegations are.
“I have not seen the letters, so I am not aware of what is in those letters…”
Elikana refuted claims that he influenced Pio Ravarua’s decision.
“The powers to fire an employee island staff is vested in the executive officer. We all understand the authority to employ and fire public servants in the Pa Enua is vested in the executive officer of the island in consultation with the mayor; so one can assume that he had taken that step, it’s a serious step,” said Elikana.
“To be fair there are other incidents on the island which are politically charged, and you’ve got to expect that on a small island like Pukapuka and Nassau.”
Elikana said he is not immune to the powers of political play.
“In fact, there was allegations made against me that I’m trying to influence the executive and the mayor, and I know there was a letter written to the public service commissioner which he has addressed.
“I understand what the law is… to be fair to everyone, there are discussions with the mayor because you have to keep those relationships to ensure whatever developments is proposed for the island, everyone there binds.
“I’ve got no time for the bad politics, my focus is to help my people, that’s why I went into this job.
“It’s sad that my friend from Ruaau is implying that there is political interference, and I will ask my friend to concentrate on Ruaau and start doing things there and address his issues. It doesn’t affect me at all and how I deal with my constituency, he should worry about his own constituency.”
Elikana said unfortunately for the Opposition Democratic Party, the government is already moving ahead.
“I’ve been at the forefront of fighting for Pukapuka Nassau to have a fair share of the economic path.”
He said soon Pukapuka will have a hospital, and a ferry for Nassau.