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Monday 13 June 2016 | Published in Regional


SAMOA – Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has explained why he chose to deliver a speech only in Samoan at a recent United Nations sponsored workshop.

The event was the Pacific Regional Anti-corruption Project held in partnership with the Public Service Commission in Samoa.

According to Tuilaepa he was invited to share his views on integrity and good governance but he decided not to deliver the speech in English.

“There was no speech in English – when people translate, its erroneous,” said the prime minister. “That is why I said it in Samoan because its deeper meaning cannot be understood by our people if it’s in English. It would just enter one ear and go out from the other.”

Tuilaepa said when Jesus Christ wants people to understand something easily he talks about the Proverbs where every subject is clear.

He added that what the United Nations does is it gathers those that speak in English and only 10 per cent of participants can understand it.

“After that they go eat their sandwich that makes them overweight and the workshop is conducted in English.”

The prime minister said he spoke about integrity which includes honesty, attitude and what is best for everyone and not just for yourself.

“I did not want to speak in English because it would lose the deeper meaning of the topic,” he said.

“When you talk about good governance there are things to measure it. So that is what I talked about – but I saw an article that said I spoke about corrupt service which is quite stupid – they didn’t understand it.”

Tuilaepa pointed out that a lot of people speak English but do not understand it. When a palagi speaks to them, they don’t understand.

He said it’s the same with Samoan. When they speak Samoan the palagi don’t understand and they also don’t understand it when he speaks Samoan.

The workshop started at 9.00am in Hotel Millenia, and Tuilaepa said he was there right on time.

He recalled that only seven people were present during the opening prayer and when it finished about 20 people were seated.

After the prayers he took the stand and did not have a prepared speech.

“I thought I’ll begin with integrity and honesty which starts from the scheduled time of the meeting at 9 o’clock,” he explained.

“This is where your honesty is being questioned. Why – it’s because government work starts at 9 o’clock and ends at five.” Tuilaepa said the time he gets to talk to the media continues on after 5 o’clock and government working hours are from 9 to 5.

Another example he used is an executive officer who starts work at 9.15am where he gets paid 44 tala an hour.

“If he came late by 15 minutes then at 10am he gets in the car to go do shopping for another 30 minutes and finishes work before 5pm,” he said.

“It’s one hour that you robbed off the government. If there is one hour from Monday a total of 44 tala and another hour on Tuesday a total of two hours. If you took one hour from each day of the week in total you stole $220 tala a week.

“For a month you have stolen $880 and more than $10,000 in a year. That is where your honesty starts.”

Tuilaepa said a lot of people who move up the ladder stop signing the time they started and the time they finish work.

The prime minister said he also spoke about public servants making their telephone numbers available to the public.

“You see if someone comes from Savai‘i and had to pay his fare and bus fare and gets on the boat and only needed five minutes of your time but was turned away because you weren’t available, it’s not a good thing.

“Have you ever come in my office and I told you to leave? That is what I’m talking about if by 7 o’clock in the evening there is a queue. I try to see all of them because they come from very far away and if they don’t get to see you it really shows how dishonest you are.”

The prime minister reminded everyone that these are the very people that you swore to serve.

He said it was important that people know a phone number to reach you at instead of being called and it says the number is no longer connect-ed.

- Samoa Observer