SAMOA’S CABINET MEMBERS TOLD TO RIDE BIKES OR DONKEYS TO WORK

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SAMOA’S CABINET MEMBERS TOLD TO RIDE BIKES OR DONKEYS TO WORK

By Mathew Lemisio

APIA, Samoa (June 22, 2002 – Samoa Observer)---As a sign that they have accepted the government’s advice to maintain good health, the MP from Aleipata Itupa i Lalo, Su’a Atonio Lemi, in Parliament yesterday urged Cabinet Ministers to ride "bikes" or "donkeys" to work.

"The Minister of Health has told the House to minimize as much as we could using cars to travel," Su’a said. "Instead, he has urged us to consider riding bicycles to stay healthy.

"I agree with him. But I’m asking him and all the other Ministers to lead the way by coming to work on bicycles.

"That way, they’ll be setting a good example for the country, and of course, us."

Su’a made this suggestion while he was addressing the Road Traffic Ordinance Amendments Bill 2002.

The increase in the costs of vehicle registration and petrol contained in this bill sparked the debate.

Su’a said Cabinet Ministers and other heads of government departments were fortunate that taxpayers were paying for the increases in registration fees and petrol costs for them.

"Why don’t you consider something cheaper?" asked Su’a. "Like bicycles, as the Minister of Health has recommended."

He alluded to Cabinet Ministers using public-funded luxury Landcruisers that cost upwards of 100,000 Tala (US$ 30,148). Some heads of government departments and corporations are also driving these public-funded vehicles.

So he reminded Parliament that during Jesus’ time on earth, he used a donkey to do his work.

"Not some expensive vehicles," he said.

"It’ll also be great if our Ministers can consider riding to work on donkeys. I’m sure Dr. Mulitalo will look good on a donkey."

Earlier yesterday, Mulitalo Siafausa told the House he was a doctor and Su’a was his patient.

And when he considered using bicycles, he was prescribing that as medicine for his patient, "Su’a."

Opposition Leader Le Mamea Ropati also raised his concern over the increase cost of vehicle registration and petrol.

He said the increases would affect mainly members of the public.

"There’s no doubt that soon we’ll see an increase in taxi and bus fares," he told Parliament. "Who’s suffering? Those in the plantation will suffer. Students will suffer."

At that point, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi intervened to say the increases were designed to raise funds for road maintenance.

He said tax and customs duty were the only ways the government was making an income from the public.

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

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