Pacific News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

TEACHING PROFESSION HONORED

Today, Samoa honored all the Teachers in the country through a special celebration held in front of the Government building early this morning. 

The day started with a float parade followed by a special march by schools and various community organizations in the country.

Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Solamalemalo Keneti Sio delivered the keynote address on behalf of the Government of Samoa, on the theme: TEACHING IN FREEDOM, EMPOWERING TEACHERS.

In his remarks, Loau expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all the teachers of Samoa for their continuing contribution to the education of the children of Samoa. 

He encouraged the teachers to continue doing the great work they do every day and continue to inspire the children to ensure a stronger foundation for lasting peace and sustainable development for Samoa. 

He further acknowledged the commitment and dedication of all teachers of Early Childhood Education Centres, Schools for children and people with disabilities, Primary and Secondary schools and colleges, Tertiary Institutions and Universities, Technical Vocational Education and Training Centres, Non-formal, Second Chance and Informal Education providers.

 He also recognized the contribution made by all the expatriate teachers and volunteers in schools and institutions around Samoa as well as the dedication and support of all Teacher Associations and Federations, Parent-Teacher Associations and the National Teacher Association of Samoa.

(Source: MPMC)

TOP PRISON OFFICIAL ON ‘SPECIAL LEAVE’

The Acting Assistant Chief Executive Officer at Samoa Prisons and Corrections Services (S.P.C.S.), Levao Rosa So’oalo, has been placed on special leave. This is to allow an investigation ordered by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to be carried out.

Deputy Commissioner of S.P.C.S. Ulugia Niuia Aumua has confirmed the action. “She is placed on special leave pending the investigation by the Ombudsman,” he said.

He denied that she has been suspended. “There is a big difference,” Ulugia told the Samoa Observer. “The decision was made to protect the integrity of the Ministry.” 

He said the decision came from Commissioner Taitosaua Edward Winterstein, to allow the investigation to be carried out in a transparent manner.

“Special leave may come out of her annual leave but that I am not sure, however, it’s my understanding that our A.C.E.O. is being placed on leave with pay,” said Ulugia. 

Last week, the Prime Minister ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate serious allegations made against the management of prisons. 

The Samoa Observer obtained a copy of the letter, dated Sept. 27, 2017.

The complainant is Andrew S. Chong, a former employee of S.P.C.S, whose complaint targets the decisions made at the top level. 

Chong’s grievances are spelled out in a three-page letter to the Prime Minister, which prompted the order for an investigation. 

Highlighted in the three-page letter were allegations of marital affairs among the staff members.

He also pointed to the alleged conflict of interest between the Associate Minister So’oalo Mene and his wife, who works as the Acting Assistant C.E.O. 

The letter also makes allegations against the Minister. 

But that’s not all.

Chong also accused senior management of hiring family members to do work at the prison.

He also claimed that a vehicle, licensed S.P.C.S. 09 was involved in a serious crash yet there was no disciplinary action taken against the driver.

There are further allegations that prisoners are used by senior staff members to do work at their homes, including a house at Falelauniu.

Efforts to get a comment from the A.C.E.O. have been unsuccessful as of press time.

(Source: Samoa Observer)

BAG BAN TIP OF THE PLASTIC ICEBERG

When Countdown called me on Wednesday morning to tell me the company was going to ban plastic bags, I think I screeched into the phone.

How often does a multinational have great news for an environmental group like Greenpeace?

The detail — that the supermarket chain would phase out single-use bags by the end of 2018 — was even better news.

That's really good. Even the Green Party has only been talking about a phase-out policy over three years.

No more single-use plastic shopping bags via Countdown after the end of next year: that's 350 million bags out of the waste system per year.

Laid end-to-end those bags would stretch for 147,000km — three and a half times around the world.

Tens of thousands of New Zealanders signed Greenpeace's petition to ban the bag in the two months since it launched. This is a victory for people power. This is a victory for marine life and our oceans.

The devastating impact plastic bags have on marine life really hit home for me, as it has for so many others. It's heartbreaking to think of sea turtles suffering a painful death because of plastic in their bellies.

But banning the bag is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plastic pollution. Our oceans are choking on plastic waste. It's estimated that if we keep polluting at the current rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean within 33 years.

The plastic waste issue is so vast, so embedded in every part of our modern lives — it's hard to know where to begin.

Plastic can now be found at every corner of the world's oceans — from bottles and packaging to tiny micro plastics — threatening one of our planet's key life-support systems, harming marine life and even ending up in the food on our plate.

Up to 12.7 million tons of plastic enters the oceans every year - a truckload of rubbish every minute. Up to 90 percent of seabirds and one in three turtles have ingested marine plastic. One million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. And more than half of the 500 billion plastic bottles manufactured each year are thrown away after a single use, ending up on beaches, in landfill and in our oceans.

Coca-Cola alone increased its production of plastic bottles by a billion last year and is estimated to produce 100 billion single use plastic bottles a year, many of which end up in our oceans.

Say that figure out loud: 100 billion. It's difficult to comprehend.

It's great that Countdown is leading the way with this ban. Now we need other big companies to follow their lead, and we need governments to create legislation that will compel those who don't.

New World's BagVote failed to even offer customers the option to ban the bag so now, in contrast, seems like little more than green-wash.

If we're to have any hope of tackling the immense problem of plastic pollution, we need large companies and politicians to be bold and take decisive action, rather than dismal half-measures.

And while we wait for our new government to legislate on the issue, it's time for other supermarkets to do the right thing: be bold, and match Countdown's ban on the bag.

(Source: RNZ)

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