Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s order for couples working within the Police Force has left several officers angry.
They say the decision is unfair. In fact, one of them is considering divorcing his wife to keep his job so he can continue to look after his children and family.
Tuilaepa is the Minister of Police. The Police Officers who spoke to The Weekend Observer asked that their names be withheld for fear of repercussions.
“This is our bread and butter,” one senior Police officer said. “If we resign from this job, what are going to do? How are we to look after our families? What about the loans we have to pay? We are also leaders in villages and churches where we have to contribute. How are we to do that?”
The Police officer said the Prime Minister’s ultimatum is a breach of human rights.
“The current administration is the high and mighty Human Rights Political Party and they are supposed to be fighting and protecting our rights as the people,” the Officer continued.
“But what has happened is the total opposite.
“The former Head of State signed the amendment adding to the Police Service Regulations that couples who are legally married or have children working at the Police Services cannot work together. And the implementation is expedited.”
Last month, Tuilaepa announced that couples and their children working in the Ministry of Police would no longer be allowed to work together.
One officer implicated said he can understand the rationale but the way it has been implemented is wrong. “It’s not like me and my other half work in the same Unit,” he said. “How pathetic, they make these drastic changes and expect to expedite the implementation and that we will be okay with it.
“It is ridiculous. The new regulation was signed into law on 1 May, 2017, and implemented six months later. What is going to happen now for us who have served for so many years?
“Does our service mean nothing to the government?”
The officer also highlighted another interesting issue.
“So they are targeting legally married couples, what about the officers who are in defacto relationships within the force? What about the officers who are having affairs in there? Does that not constitute a conflict of interest?
“Where is the fairness in that? It seems to me that they are targeting legally married couples and yet many officers who are defacto and extra marital relationships are left to roam around freely.
“There is a loop hole in the regulation and it’s discriminatory. It is a clear violation of our human rights.”
Another Police officer told the Weekend Observer that one of the options is to divorce his wife.
“I am a dedicated and a committed Police officer,” he said.
“I feel that all the hard work is going down the drain because we are blamed for the issues that have occurred within the Ministry. I don’t understand the Prime Minister’s reasons. “Also is there a redundancy package for us who are forced to resign from our job?
“Did the government not think about our service and the years we have put our life on the line for the country only to be told that I have to resign because my spouse and I work here?
“This is unbelievable and I am appalled to say the least the government did not think things through before this regulation was signed into law.
“I am a victim here, my spouse and I are paying for the mistakes made by the previous Commissioners and this is unfair treatment,” said the Police Officer.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa has repeatedly defended his decision, saying there are many reasons families cannot work together.
For instance, there were safety reasons, he said.
He also said this was part of the reforms since he’d moved the Ministry of Police under his portfolio in December 2016.
“This is one of the issues within the ministry that should have been dealt with a long time ago,” said the Prime Minister. He blamed the former Commissioners.
“They knew what was going on right under their noses and they allowed it.
“Couples cannot work together. This is a standing policy all over the world; a wife cannot work with her husband.” Tuilaepa said it would have been a different story if it were a family business.
He said this should not happen in any Government Ministry, adding: “What will happen is that they will not heed the policies of the Ministry, but do what benefits them as a family.”