Investigation Into Samoan Minister’s Conduct Dropped

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Appointment of assistant CEO in ministry of culture probed

By Jasmine Netzler

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 21, 2014) – The Public Service Commission (PSC) has dropped an investigation it launched into the conduct of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC), Matafeo Falana’ipupu Aiafi, last year.

The investigation was to determine whether Matafeo "may have breached the Code of Conduct" in relation to the appointment of the Assistant CEO of Culture at MESC.

Asked for an update, the CEO of PSC, Fuimapoao Beth Onesemo-Tuilaepa, confirmed that the investigation had been stopped.

The "process has been discontinued," she wrote to the Samoa Observer.

Fuimapoao said Matafeo "has complied" with the "PSC decision."

What she meant by Matafeo having "complied" with PSC’s decision, she did not say. She also did not elaborate on when the decision was made and whether the decision was reached at the end of the investigation or in the middle of the investigation.

It was not possible to obtain a comment from Matafeo about this matter yesterday.

The investigation, however, was ordered by the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Tuu’u Dr. Ieti Taulealo.

"The Public Service Commission (PSC) at its meeting and deliberation on 12 and 13 November 2013 has considered that you may have breached the Code of Conduct, by virtue of your responses to the PSC’s appointment to the position of Assistant CEO for Culture within the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture," Tuu’u wrote to Matafeo in a letter dated 13 November 2013.

The letter was copied to the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Magele Mauiliu Magele and Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Minister of PSC, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo.

In his letter, the Chairman informed Matafeo that the PSC had appointed Peseta Elisaia Talouli, of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, to carry out the investigation.

"The Delegate has the powers to summon witnesses and receive evidence as if it were a Commission of Inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1964," Tuu’u writes.

The probe could have resulted in a warning against the CEO, a fine not exceeding WST$1,000 [US$423] or a recommendation to Cabinet to terminate his contract.

But Matafeo strongly objected to the allegation.

In his response to the PSC, dated 13 November 2013 and copied to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Matafeo said the PSC’s decision deprived him of his "human rights" as a "member of the human family."

"I am appalled by your decision to investigate my lawful questions and recommendations against your decision to:

"Letters dated, (PSC‘s letter dated 6th Nov 2013 & AG’s letter dated 1st Nov 2013), 4. Accuse me of breaching the Code of Conduct on the basis of my contract, spelt above, where I shall stand now or to your convenience to prove in physical and mental display that I am NOT of physical or mental incapacity to perform my job and the duties and functions to my job have NOT been changed by Government.

"If the Cabinet had appointed me in less than a year ago, knowingly aware of my incapacities that you claim, then I recommend, for all our dignities that you skip the first two provisions of the investigation, to save us all the embarrassment. As such, the Commission to directly recommend to Cabinet termination of my contract should the Commission believe this is the right thing to do," Matafeo said.

According to Matafeo, his response to the appointment in question was an attempt to achieve "transparency, good governance, accountability and a consultative approach by the Public Service Commission."

"When these values are held high and abided by, we can omit all the unnecessary strain, not just on ourselves but on the people whose lives are affected by the ambiguity of this case," Matafeo wrote.

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