COOK ISLANDS OFFICIAL STOPPED FOR DRUNK

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DRIVING
Tangianau was driving government vehicle

By Helen Greig RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Dec. 15, 2010) – In Cook Islands, Public Service Commissioner Navy Epati has confirmed his office is now investigating the weekend incident in which the head of infrastructure was stopped by police and forbidden to drive after being found under the influence of alcohol.

Acting Secretary for the infrastructure and planning ministry, Otheniel Tangianau did not wish to comment on the claim he was stopped from driving a government vehicle while intoxicated, other than to say the police were simply doing their job.

The report issued by police on the weekend did not name Tangianau, but his identity has been the subject of speculation ever since. At least one other Head of Ministry received several phone calls on Monday morning to ask whether he was the official in question.

On a more serious note, the incident has again raised concern about the use of government vehicles and the behavior expected from senior government officials outside of work hours.

It is understood most Head of Ministries are not restricted in their use of government vehicles for private use. Head of Ministries generally have it written into their contracts that they be provided a vehicle for use at all times. Most other government officials are not allowed to take vehicles home or use them outside work hours.

Epati told Cook Islands News he had to have all the information on the weekend incident before his office could make a decision on whether to take any action in the matter. He also refused to officially name Tangianau saying he needed to speak to the Head of Ministry in question to inform them of the investigation before he could release any details.

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