PM Reminds Government Officials to Carry Out Duties Integrously and Follow Proper Process


21 June 2023, Parliament House, Mulinuu Apia Samoa.  The Samoa Prime Minister has shed light on the widely reported saga surrounding the entry of an American Samoa boat in April this year; stating that the issues identified is an important reminder to government officials of the need to carry out their duties integrously and honestly in accordance to proper processes and border control procedures that exist.

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The Prime Minister confirmed in Parliament, that the arrival of the boat Kite Runner, did not impose any safety or security risks upon Samoa, however, acknowledged that there were lapses in the circumstances surrounding its arrival.

“O lape o le faagasologa o le malaga mai o le vaa lea, e toe faamanatu ai, i le aufaigaluega ma mau tofi a le Malo, le tinoū ma le faamaoni, i le faatino o tiute ma matafaioi, i ala o mea ua faatulagaina.”

During her Ministerial address on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Fiame gave detailed explanations before Parliament on two contentious issues recently implicating Cabinet Ministers. The Kite Runner saga from April and the inappropriate approach of Hong Kong based tour company, Travel Focus, which had been given the green light to promote Samoa tourism in China and Asia.

Kite Runner arrived at the Matautu Wharf in Apia on Wednesday 26th of April 2023 and departed the next day on the 27th, however, not before raising major red flags in Samoa’s border controls, and instigating a meeting of the National Security Council.

The Prime Minister told Parliament that issues arose when the Kite Runner boat carrying crew, passengers and cargo, docked at the wharf in Salelologa, Savaii on the evening of the 26th of April without proper documentation and permits.

An arguement arose between those on board the boat, and the staff of Mulifanua wharf who had not been advised of its arrival. The ground staff contacted Police who launched an immediate investigation and alerted Police Headquarters in Apia.

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The Prime Minister said an emergency meeting of the National Security Council was called the very next morning, attended by various Ministries and Government Authorities including the Samoa Ports Authority, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Customs & Revenue, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Police.

“The Samoa Ports Authority had advised the Ministry of Customs & Revenue of this boat’s arrival. The Ministry of Health did carry out its usual screening and found that the Kite Runner did not have an “outward clearance” from its last port in American Samoa. Samoa’s authorities then contacted the Kite Runner’s agent, seeking an outward clearance, which was later forwarded by email.

Further clearance of the boat was carried out, which led to the entry of passengers and cargo at Salelologa wharf.

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The Prime Minister clarified that the Kite Runner was considered a pleasure boat and was therefore issued with a “crusing license” by the Ministry of Transport.

A cruising license is the same permit issued to yachts that enter Samoa’s waters. They have access to enter our waters with limited access to ground and for refilling, however, it does not allow for docking at our wharfs, the PM clarified.

The Prime Minister said that according to the Kite Runner boat crew, they had planned to dock at Mulifanua wharf in Upolu, and transfer passengers from American Samoa who had flown into Apia, and take them to Salelologa to attend a faalavelave.

“These plans are not in accordance with the original cruising license issued to this boat by the Ministry of Transport.”

“Later, on the 27th of April, the Ministry of Transport then issued a permit which allowed the boat to dock at other wharfs.”

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The Prime Minister said advice was sought from the Office of the Attorney General as to what charges or fines which could be imposed in relation to the Kite Runner’s entry, however, the AG had advised there was little that could be done at that stage, since various Ministries had already issued clearances.

A report from the Ministry of Police had also confirmed that the Ministry of Transport did contact the Samoa Ports Authority regarding Kite Runner’s intentions to enter Samoa, before its arrival on the 20th of April 2023.

The Prime Minister concluded that although there were many lapses in the lead up to the boat’s permits and entry procedures, what can be confirmed, is that all customs and border control procedures were then carried out and all was in order.

“The cargo was confirmed as freezer foodstuffs typically used for faalavelave.”

The concern with this incident is the illegal entry of boats into our waters, and infringing our borders, the PM reiterated.

“They could be bringing illegal goods such as drugs and weapons, or if not, goods that need to be cleared through normal customs procedures.”

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The Prime Minister said that is why it was important to her, that the incident is formally recorded before Parliament, and for Samoa to know that there were no safety risks or security breaches that arose with the arrival of the Kite Runner.

However, the lapses in the circumstances surrounding this boat’s entry into Samoa, said the Prime Minister, is a crucial reminder to all staff and government officials, to carry out their duties integrously and honestly in accordance with proper processes and procedures that are already in place for Samoa.