The twenty-seven new Members of Parliament are ready for Friday’s Parliamentary opening.
It follows the first day of an Induction programme for the newly elected Members, which started yesterday.
Organised by the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly (O.C.L.A), the programme is tailored to familiarise new Members with the internal rules governing Parliament proceedings and privileges.
Most new M.Ps are familiar with Parliamentary debates. However, many of them admitted yesterday that listening to and being involved in the debates are two different things.
Take for example the first time M.P. for Urban West, Faumuina Wayne Fong.
“It’s a huge responsibility on your shoulder in terms of what you have to deliver for your constituency,” said Faumuina.
“It’s not easy. I can tell you that but at the same time I’m quite excited about it…it won’t be a smooth ride and in the end I believe common sense will survive.”
New M.P for Siumu, Faalogo Iosefa Sopi, shares the same feeling.
“It’s important to learn the Standing Orders and procedures for Parliament, especially for someone who is new like me,” said Faalogo.
Aana Alofi No. 2 M.P, Ili Setefano Ta’ateo, said listening to Parliament is different from actually being part of it.
“It’s a different feeling,” he said. “I’m happy to be here and sitting in there and being part of where all the decisions making comes from…I can’t wait to contribute to it.”
In addressing the members, Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, reminded them about their commitment and the reason why they are there.
“Most M.Ps turn up in the morning and later disappear to drink ava outside,” he said.
Tuilaepa said there are many well qualified M.P.s – including lawyers – who lack understanding of the Standing Orders.
“You get understanding and experience from sitting in here, observing and reading the hansard.”
Tuilaepa also cautioned about using the right words in Parliament. He said there are many times when members use words out of context. The same thing applies to Biblical scriptures being quoted out of context.
“Most people hear this speech and that speech in Parliament and then decide to copy them,” said Tuilaepa. “Starting from today, you go and read your Bible to guide you so that other M.Ps don’t mislead and lie to you.”
Away from Parliamentary statements, Tuilaepa said a lot of the work is done behind closed doors. He was referring to Parliamentary Committees.
These Committees play a vital role in providing checks and balance in a democracy. Speaking of democracy, he reminded about the three pillars of democracy, Parliament, government and the Judiciary.
Reminding that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” Tuilaepa said the three pillars of democracy checks each other out.
The programme is funded with the generous assistance of U.N.D.P/I.P.P.W.S who are also conducting a programme for the members on Thursday about the Sustainable Development Goals.
This is the standard programme offered by the Parliament Secretariat for all Members at the commencement of each five year parliamentary term.
New cabinet ministers as well as Speaker and Deputy Speaker will be sworn in on Friday.