Monday, January 30, 2012

Samoa's PM: Pacific in danger of getting another Fiji

Samoa PM

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegao

The prime minister of Samoa says more political instablitiy could be ahead of the Pacific region if a second country goes the way Fiji has. 
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says Papua New Guinea is inching dangerously towards what he says is "dangerous grounds" after what appears to have been a politically-motivated mutiny in the military barracks.
In a statement Tuilaepa pointed to Fiji saying "once the military gets involved in civilian government, a whole new element, a whole new dimension is introduced.”
“It’s the reason why we have always opposed the military government in Fiji. Its impact can be dangerously contagious. The military should never be involved in civilian government. They are not trained nor qualified to take over civilian governance and deal with civilian issues.
"If Papua New Guinea is not careful, I see them going down the same road as Fiji. And the image of the Pacific Islands and our part of the world as a peaceful region is perpetually destroyed by selfish and ambitious trigger-happy thugs in control of our military institutions.”
Tuilaepa had this to say on the accusations and counter-accusations of unauthorized spending by both the Sir Michael Somare and Peter O’Neill governments:
“Budgets are debated and approved by Parliament. Moreover, Parliament must approve and ratify every single cent spent by the Executive branch. The key is to present all spending on the table, disclosed to the Opposition, the public and the media.
"If government is able to defend its spending and have it legislated then issues are never raised. The supremacy of Parliament  - which represents the power of the people in any Parliamentary democracy – to make and unmake laws must never never be compromised.”
On the political stalemate with two rival governments in power in Papua New Guinea, he said: "I cannot speak for both the Somare and O’Neill governments but, the hardest thing for any career political leader is realizing when to let go honourably. Leaders have to realize that they’re only there through a mandate from the people. At the end of the day, government must move on and no one is indispensable.”
Earlier, Tuilaepa said the people of Fiji and the international community are being led down the cassava patch regarding the promises of free elections in 2014.

He was unimpressed with the so-called removal of the Public Emergency Regulations earlier this month and its replacement with the Public Order Act. And he dismissed the elections in 2014 as a 'pipe dream."

"It’s just more deception and creating more false hope among Fiji citizens and the international community. It is synonymous of those who rule by the gun without a mandate from the people. This (public order decrees) is just the latest in what’s become an endless litany of lies and excuses to hold on to power.”

Tuilaepa said Bainimarama has gone too far.

The public service has been fully militarized with unqualified army colonels occupying top-level public service positions. The commodore cannot take away their fat salaries and round them back to the military barracks.

"It’s beyond him now. He’s gone too far and"lacks the strength and smarts to pull Fiji back to democratic government....and governance. It’s just survival for him now at whatever cost.”

Tuilaepa said those close to Bainimarama are ‘shamelessly milking the taxpayers’. 

“The Attorney General who constantly feeds Baini with legal fodder, I’ve been told, holds five different government portfolios collecting five different pay cheques. How much is he getting? A million dollars in just six months?
"How can you pocket that amount of public funds while people in Fiji are slaving away? Obviously there continues to be a lack of moral consciousness among Bainimarama’s band of thieves. What he set out to do – to remove corruption – he is now rolling in the mud enjoying and indulging in every facet of it.”

Tuilaepa said Fiji could soon experience the Pacific version of the recent Arab Spring or a “South Pacific squall” as he called it.

“The Fijian people are gradually awakening. And one cannot continue to suppress people indefinitely. People power is always mightier than all the guns in the world. Bainimarama must avoid at all cost a South Pacific squall.”

He added: “It’s extremely odd and embarrassing to see soldiers patrolling the streets of Suva with bazookas. The Pacific Islands region is not used to seeing these frightening images of trigger-happy idiots in full war garb walking up and down the road.

“If what is happening in Fiji happened in Samoa, long ago people would’ve come out of their homes, from the plantations, from the mountains and countryside and a 100,000 would march the streets of Apia.

"Old women armed with brooms, particularly, would be climbing over each other to get their hands on the regime. Bainimarama and his co-cohorts would now be safely behind bars, if this had happened in Samoa of course.”

Tuilaepa is the region's longest serving prime minister coming to power for a fifth term late last year.  

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