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A Member of Parliament has slammed the decision by the Government to refuse entry to eight Samoan nationals due to fears over coronavirus.
The Salega Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, told the Samoa Observer the decision by immigration officials at the Faleolo International Airport to refuse entry to the Samoans was unacceptable.
The eight Samoans were returning to the country following a trip to India for medical treatment.
“It is by far the stupidest decision this Government has ever made,” he said. “These men and women are Samoan nationals. How can they pass the buck to another country? I want to thank Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama for not neglecting (them and opting for) the humane thing to do and taking them in when they were rejected from our port.”
The Government can deny entry to foreigners but not Samoan citizens, according to the Member of Parliament, who claimed that the decision is a sign the Ministry of Health (MOH) lacked the capacity to tackle the coronavirus threat.
“And to me they (MOH) have failed this country twice in a row. The first time was the lack of action taken, when there was a low percentage of immunisation, which eventually led to the death of 80 plus people from the measles and more than 5,000 affected and they did it again with this new killer virus.”
Olo, who has previously called for the MOH Director General, Leausa Dr Take Naseri to resign over the measles epidemic, repeated his call again on Wednesday for the top bureaucrat to step aside.
“Director General, Leausa Dr Take Naseri and the Ministry of Health are not ready. They don’t have the capability to fight against this virus and the Prime Minister should ask Leausa to step down and hire someone who can get the job done,” he added.
Attempts by the Samoa Observer to contact Leausa seeking his comment were not successful.
Cabinet’s recent visit to Savai’i to inspect major Government-funded projects also came under scrutiny with Olo arguing that they got their priorities wrong, as more needs to be done to secure the country’s borders against the coronavirus threat and the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) has begun to campaign for the 2021 General Election.
“They are opening roads in Savaii and focusing on other projects, but they are neglecting what is critical at the moment, the protection of our people from the coronavirus,” he added. “The Government should pull all their resources together and invest in equipment, machines and gear to counter the deadly virus in any case it does reach our shores. There are 47 HRPP members that don’t have guts to step up and do what is right.
However, the ruling party’s Whip and MP, Alai’asa Moefa’auo Moananu, cautioned Olo saying his statement critical of the Government is harsh.
“The whole world is cautious over this [corona] virus and we are also mindful there is no cure. But then Olo is always outspoken and his views are his views,” he said.
Alai’asa, in response to further questions by the Samoa Observer, referred the newspaper to the party’s parliamentary leader and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.
But Prime Minister Tuilaepa flew out of the country on Wednesday morning for New Zealand and was not available for comment..
SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS
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