HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 574:27 July 2011

Government to pull plug on PR announcement in Samoa?

Government’s handling of a planned PR announcement must have the Samoan government wondering about the lines of communication within the Cook Islands bureaucracy.
Late Tuesday night, the Herald received an unconfirmed report from Samoa that a special function on Wednesday evening during which Prime Minister Henry Puna was to confer Honorary Permanent Residency on two Samoans, George and Juliana Tuiletufuga, had been cancelled at the last minute.
Word of the cancellation was received from George Pitt who is currently in Samoa.
Pitt said Prime Minister Henry Puna was to have made the announcement at the Hotel Millennia in Apia while in Samoa attending a conference.
The Samoan couple have for more than 20 years provided help and assistance to Cook Islanders in Samoa especially sports teams. George Tuiletufuga is a keen sportsman and golfer. The recommendation for Honorary PR had come from CISNOC seven years ago to the then Democratic Party government but was not actioned because of the ongoing political turmoil.
George Pitt earlier advised the Herald that the cancellation follows the issuing of invitations to the function which showed not only the conferring of PR status but also the naming of George Tuiletufuga as Cook Islands Consul in Samoa.
When approached by the Herald for comment on Monday afternoon, Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Tom Marsters advised that no appointment is being made as yet.
George Pitt, who was to attend the function, contacted the Herald on Tuesday evening to advise that the invitations had been hastily withdrawn and new invitations had been issued with the reference to the appointment of Consul excluded.
It would appear that officials may have overlooked protocol which requires the Samoan government to formally approve the recommendation for Consul. Just who did not get it right or the timing right, is not known.
There is also speculation that the cancellation of the Honorary PR announcement may be due to a delay in the Executive Council approving the PR. However, the Herald learnt from Foreign Affairs on Wednesday morning that the Executive Council dealt with the matter on Tuesday.
Up until now Cook Islander Luna Paul, who runs a tourist resort in Samoa with her husband, has acted as Honorary Cook Islands Consul but in a voluntary capacity. Marsters advised that he had discussed Paul’s role with former Minister Rasmussen who confirmed Paul was never formally appointed as Honorary Consul.
It is understood the PM, Minister Mark Brown and Minister Teina Bishop are all staying at Luna’s Resort.
Brown is in Samoa for the Finance and Economic Ministers meeting while Bishop is attending the Forum Fishing Agency meeting.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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