4 April 2011
The Tongan Supreme Court has sentenced the officials convicted last week for the parts they played in the mismanagement of the Princess Ashika. Seventy four people drowned when the unseaworthy ferry sank. Findings of an inquiry into the sinking and the subsequent trial of some of those involved, exemplify the importance of officials acting with integrity. This is expressed in the New Zealand Cabinet Manual direction that those working in the State sector must be fair, impartial, responsible and trustworthy .
3.50 Employees in the state sector must act with a spirit of service to the community and meet high standards of integrity and conduct in everything they do. In particular, employees must be fair, impartial, responsible, and trustworthy.
The Tongan Court has found that those principles of public service were sadly lacking among key actors in the Princess Ashika saga.
The report last week of fraud within the Ministry of Social Development indicates that no agency can rest on its laurels. Over the last five years, 13 employees have either lied to procure welfare payments or deliberately defrauded the system from within. Some consolation is that, in an agency which is rigorous in its scrutiny of practices, fraud was only committed by a tenth of 1 per cent of staff. Most have a commitment to being fair, impartial, responsible and trustworthy.