SAMOA GOVERNMENT SILENT OVER EMPLOYMENT OF FORMER PRIME MINISTER TOFILAU

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APIA, Samoa (January 19, 1999 - PACNEWS)---The office of Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has failed to answer questions about the conditions of employment granted former Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana, now drawing pay as a senior Minister of Cabinet though seriously ill, says newspaper publisher Savea Sano Malifa.

Is the senior minister attending Cabinet meetings, is he still receiving his annual salary of more than 100, 000 dollars (US$ 33,320)?, Savea asked in an editorial Sunday.

He also questions whether the public will still be responsible for Tofilau's overseas travel costs and medical expenses if he has to travel, and whether he still gets other benefits such as a free car and residence.

Savea's publication, the Samoa Observer, raised these questions weeks ago, but said he has gotten no reply from the press secretariat Prime Minister Tuilaepa created recently.

As deputy PM, Tuilaepa was government spokesperson, a post from which he told the media in weekly meetings about decisions Cabinet made that week. Questions about other matters were not allowed by Tuilaepa and led to clashes with Samoa Observer reporters and criticism that the meetings were a "joke."

Medical treatment for Tofilau, who resigned from office last November because of liver cancer, heart condition and a range of other ills, means travel to New Zealand.

He was gaunt and frail during his televised swearing in as senior minister in December. The post was created for him by Tuilaepa.

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