Pacific News Briefs
PM TUILAEPA SAYS CHINA AID IS 'ALL TRANSPARENT'
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has defended China’s aid amidst growing concerns from the Pacific region’s traditional development partners.
Tuilaepa went in to bat for China during a joint press conference with New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, in his office yesterday.
Tuilaepa said China’s aid is all out in the open and that there are no hidden agendas. He said China has earmarked for the next five years US$2 billion (T$4.8 billion) for grants to Pacific Islands and US$2 billion (T$4.8 billion) for soft loans.
Tuilaepa reminded that many critics forget the periodical consultations with “our donors including the United States, Japan and China."
He recalled that during the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Prime Minister of India, all the Pacific leaders were invited.
“President Xi laid out (all their plans) to all the countries including Australia and New Zealand that have diplomatic relations with China,” the PM said.
“They did not include countries that had relations with Taiwan. It was in that meeting that those who were there, to hear the message from the president from China that they had earmarked for the next five years US$2billion for grants and US$2billion for soft loans."
“And it’s all transparent. So what we are doing is a follow-up on the undertakings, which are done in the open nothing was hidden. Refer back two years, you will find out.”
Tuilaepa said Samoa is only interested in what was promised to them.
He was also asked to divulge how much is owed to the Chinese Government. “I was asked this question by the local media, and I cannot give it as I am not the Minister of Finance,” the prime minister said.
“With our debt capacity payment this year, the priority is in our budget, which is why we label it under the budget statutory payout."
“We first deduct the payments for our debts because in the debts you’ll find, the dignity of the leaders of this country infused in the debts."
“We should never fail in our debts obligations. After meeting that debt liability what is left is to meet the current expenditure to ensure that the government never stops."
“You know in America, sometimes they close down shop because they run out of money."
“But here we make damn sure that the government is never short and after deducting and meeting our debts, we still have monies to ensure our ongoing obligations works smoothly."
“And we still have a huge balance of over a $100million to pay for our developments because it is very important in developing your budget expenditures every year."
“You must always have enough to develop because with development expenditures your G.D.P. is sure to go up and not down.”
(Source: Samoa Observer)
COURT PRESIDENT TAKES “SPECIAL LEAVE”
The President of the Land and Titles Court, Fepulea'i Attila Ropati, has taken “special leave pending criminal charges” filed against him in the Court.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Papali’i John Taimalelagi confirmed this.
The President is accused of assaulting a Security Officer of the M.J.C.A. during a function towards the end of the last year. The Police have charged him with assault, being armed with a dangerous weapon and causing injury.
According to Papali’i, Fepuleai’s “special leave” became effective last Friday.
“The Chief Justice, his Honor Patu Tiavasu’e Falefatu Sapolu and the Judicial Service Commission accepted the request by the honorable President to take personal leave, pending the criminal case against him,” said Papali’i.
In his absence, the Chief Justice, His Honor Patu has taken over the role of the President of Land and Titles.
“The Chief Justice will play his role in the criminal, civil cases and will also sit on the Land and Titles cases,” Papali’i said.
He noted that the added responsibility will be a burden to the Chief Justice but he will make the determination on which cases to pass to other Judges and Justices.
Papali’i denied that the Fepulea’i’s absence would affect the work of the Land and Titles Court. “There is no impact on the cases scheduled before Fepulea’i,” he said. "The Court cases will proceed as scheduled.”
According to Papali’i, Fepulea’i has heard more than 300 cases since his appointment in August 2016. “I am speaking as a Registrar of the Court; Fepulea’i is an asset to the Land and Titles Court and the Ministry of Justice.
“It is unfortunate what has occurred, however the appointment of Fepulea’i couldn’t have come at a better time.
“There were significant changes that occurred under his tenure as President of the Land and Titles Court.
“Regarding decisions on request from members of the public on various issues specifically for Lands and Titles, Fepulea’i did not shy away from making hard decisions.
“He also played a huge role in making the necessary changes for easier processes for the convenience of the public, within the Land and Titles Court of first instance, Leave to Appeal Court and the Court of Appeal.”
Since he was charged, the President has been remanded at liberty until his Court appearance on 13 March 2018.
Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo confirmed this.
According to sources within the Police, the alleged incident occurred at the compound of the Judiciary during a “party” for the Judges. “It’s alleged that the accused struck the security officer (who works at the judiciary compound) on the head twice with a glass bottle,” the source said.
“The matter was not reported to the Police immediately and it wasn’t until a few days later when the security officer felt pain on his head and was taken to the hospital."
“At the hospital, the doctor found bits and pieces of broken glass on his head and that’s when the matter was reported to the Police.”
Efforts by the Samoa Observer to get a comment from Fepulea’i directly have been unsuccessful.
(Source: Samoa Observer)
MAN STABS ESTRANGED WIFE NINE TIMES, PLEADS GUILTY
The man who stabbed his estranged wife nine times in the neck in front of the National Bank Building of Samoa at the beginning of the year appeared in Court yesterday.
Thirty-three-year-old Petaia Swerling, of Tufuiopa, is set to be sentenced on 19 April 2018.
Refusing the offer to have a lawyer represent him, Swerling pleaded guilty to the charges. He appeared before the Chief Justice, His Honor Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu.
Swerling is facing charges of being armed with a dangerous weapon, causing grievous bodily harm and attempted murder.
Yesterday, he was asked by Chief Justice Patu whether he wanted a lawyer given the seriousness of the charges against him.
“I don’t want a lawyer your honor,” he said, “I am ready to respond to the charges against me.” That’s when he pleaded guilty.
“The Court has noted down your guilty plea to all the charges against you and you do not want a lawyer to represent you,” His Honor Patu said.
“Therefore, this matter will be adjourned until Monday 19th April, 2018 to wait for a pre-sentence report as well as the decision by the court.”
“It will be called before Justice Vui Clarence Nelson and you will still be remanded in custody until this date.”
According to the police summary of facts, the incident happened on 12 January 2018 in Apia.
The Police claim that he attempted to murder Bernadette Loia, a female of Tufuiopa and Salelologa.
“He was armed with a dangerous weapon namely a cooking knife and he had caused grievous bodily harm to the said female.”
The accused had stabbed his wife before running away and attempted to self-harm. An eyewitness said the man came out of nowhere and started stabbing her multiple times in public.
“The victim is an employee for one of the government ministries housed at the A.C.C. Building,” one eyewitness said.
“He was waiting for the victim to come to work because it was around 8’oclock in the morning that the incident occurred.”
When members of the public rushed to her rescue, he ran away.
“He ran towards the Mulivai Bridge because a taxi driver was chasing after him. He jumped into the sea and he went inside a pipe that is under there.”
“However, when he decided to come back out, the knife that he used on his partner was in his chest.
“The Police arrived at the scene and the ambulance was called. They were both taken to the hospital and they underwent operation.”
(Source: Samoa Observer)