Chiefs from Alataua West yesterday made an emotional plea to their former Member of Parliament, Lafaitele Patrick Lei’ataualesa, to withdraw his petition against their new M.P.
“I beg of you to reconsider this,” said Taatiti Manoa, of Neiafu.
Another Neiafu chief, Ali’imalemanu Faleupolu, said desperation knows no shame.
“This is something that is done by any person who needs help,” he said. “He is not ashamed to stand up in humiliation. Let the seat stay with Ali’imalemanu because this is not the end of the world.”
The plea was made in the Supreme Court during the hearing of a petition against Ali’imalemanu Alofa Tu’uau. Lafaitele is accusing her of bribery and treating during the General Election.
The petition was scheduled for hearing yesterday before a panel of Judges chaired by the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu. The other judge is Justice Lesatele Rapi Va’ai.
The courtroom was filled with villagers, women and elderly men from the villages that make up the Alataua West constituency.
During the morning break, a matai from Neiafu, Ta’atiti Manoa stood inside the courtroom and asked Lafaitele to reconsider his decision.
He said since the election,they had been looking for him at his home but he was nowhere to be found.
“I know you have a right to do this under the law,” said Ta’atiti. “But some matters (petitions) have been dealt with in a traditional way (fa’atamali’ile filifiliga).
“You have had our support for ten years.Have you forgotten that?”
Ta’atiti said it was an embarrassment for their constituency to be dragged before the Court and urged Lafaitele to reconsider.
“I’m begging you,” he said.
Ali’imalemanu Faleupolualso appealed for mercy.
“Even though today is a matter against me, it does not stop me from asking,” he said.
“This is something that is done by any person who needs help. He is not ashamed to stand up in humiliation. Let the seat stay with Ali’imalemanu because this is not the end of the world.”
“There will be another day, another chance. Let me remind you that the Court proceedings will come to an end but our covenant is for life. I pray that our covenant will not come to an end.
“I am in pain and I have suffered, please feel for us and your village.”
In response, Lafaitele said he had just arrived from Hawai’i with his sister.
He told the villagers that he did not bring the petition to Court but rather it was his sisters who had pushed for the hearing.
“You all know Lafaitele does not do things like this,” said the former M.P.
“Leave it to me because you do not know how the matter ended up in here. It was my sisters and the lawyer but leave it to us we will discuss it.”
When the hearing resumed, lawyer for Ali’imalemanu, Amelia Fa’asau made an application to have the matter referred to an urgent mediation, noting that there has been a change in the circumstances.
But the lawyer for Lafaitele, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, said she wanted to make an application for a private hearing.
Although the matter is of public interest, Unasa emphasised that it was also in the interest of her client not to be pressured into a decision.
Chief JusticePatuthen adjourned the Court while the parties discuss the possibility of a mediation.