By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: FRIDAY 15 FEBRUARY 2013: A top official of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) has defended the decision to appoint a man jailed for theft to head the church’s Radio and Television stations.
General Secretary of CCCS, Rev. Dr. Iutisone Salevao, said the decision was made by the Church Elders Committee or Au Toeaina.
When Tuiasau Leota Uelese Petaia was named manager of the stations, the appropriateness of the appointment was questioned, and concern about possible negative impact on the church – and on the services of the church’s media arose.
Such concerns were uttered by church members, some deacons, and non-members.
Tuiasau was convicted of 67 counts of theft and sentenced to 18 months of jail. He served his time last year.
Asked about the concerns raised by the appointment, Rev. Iutisone responded with a question of his own.
“Who was crucified together with Jesus, was it an angel?” he asked.
The largest church in the country, CCCS is to launch its radio and television stations in a few months time.
Rev. Salevao said the church is aware of Tuiasau’s record.
“However, he has the experience needed to realise the church’s dream of operating a radio and television service for her members and the community,” he said.
He said people have a right to their own opinions.
“But that won’t determine any decision made regarding the appointment.”
A former general manager for then state owned Televise Samoa Ltd, Tuiasau later established LauTV with leased equipment and premises of the Meredith Family Trust at Levili.
A partnership with Fiji TV to launch SkyPacific in Samoa led to the loss of money to the tune of $30,000 that resulted in the criminal conviction.
LauTV folded and amongst the fallout were complaints, which reached court, that payments to National Provident Fund for staff members had not been made.
EFKS TV and Radio
To be housed at CCCS’s John Williams Building at Tamaligi, the radio and television stations are due for launch May this year during the church’s annual conference.
Tuiasau heads a team of five staffers.
Rev. Salevao says all programmes are to focus on youth, with an expansion to education, spiritual and community matters intended.
The programmes will be broadcast in English and Samoan.
Rev. Salevao needs to address the youth problems “before it’s too late.”
He acknowledged the service rendered by the Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga to the youth of the Catholic Church.
“Mataeliga is on TV and radio every day talking and preaching to the youth of his church and that is what the CCCS wants to provide for the youth of our church,” said Rev. Salevao.
He said both stations are co-funded by Council for World Mission in Singapore and London.
The hope is CCCS can fund the stations in the future.
For now the stations do not have commercial licenses which mean there would be no advertising aired by both.
But commercial licenses are options when the initial funding runs out.
Over 50 percent of the population belongs to CCCS which also has congregations in Australia, New Zealand and United States – and missionaries who serve around the world.
During a recent annual General Assembly, the church passed the establishment of a merchant bank to fund its own operations, but this has been put on hold and the Radio and TV project has been a priority.