Government, taxes, L.T.R.A. 2008 and customary lands. Part I

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Dear Editor,

 

The reality in our country and its government is that the main cause of all problems that we are facing right now is because of our system of government. 

Our system of government has been totally ruined by bad leadership such as the “Cabinet Handbook 2011 (Cabinet procedure)” and the “Standing Orders” for Parliament that have been established by Prime Minister Tuilaepa and the H.R.P.P. That is the reason why our country and its government are not in good shape at all. As a result, the pathway forward for our country is clearly in darkness. 

Those two laws, the “Cabinet Handbook 2011 (Cabinet procedure)” and the “Standing Orders” for Parliament verify what Afamasaga identified in his article – Taxes, Government and the Church. Part III. 

“The underlying message in that series was that the changes then being made on a totally partisan basis to our Constitution and to our electoral system would have the effect of progressively accumulating all political powers in the hands of the ruling party with unfortunate implications for our fledgling democracy.” 

“That process is now completed and today, we have one party rule with a mock opposition in a mock parliamentary system with all effective power in the hands of government. Late last year, a brand new Electoral Act 2017 was passed. The old electoral act had done its wrecking job and can be thrown on the scrap heap of history where it belongs.”

While the old electoral act had already done its wrecking job according to Afamasaga, the “Cabinet Handbook 2011” and the “Standing Order” for Parliament have not. They are still doing their wrecking job in our government systems and our country. The double standard policies in the “Cabinet Handbook 2011” and the double standard policies in the “Standing Orders” for Parliament are the main policies that are doing the wrecking job to our government systems. According to Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s foreword in the Cabinet Handbook 2011, he said:

“Our Constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government. Under it, the Cabinet, comprising the Prime Minister and other Ministers, is the central decision-making authority of the executive Government.”

“However, in exercising this power, the Cabinet does not act in a vacuum. The Cabinet is responsible to the Head of State, Parliament and the people. Indeed, as Ministers we are very conscious at all times that ultimately Cabinet is entrusted with this authority by the people through their mandate as expressed through general elections every five years.

This mandate by the people is to govern in the best interests of Samoa, and in particular in the maintenance of law and order and peace and security and in the promotion of economic and social development to continually improve the quality of life of everyone.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s foreword as mentioned above is not in line with other main policies of the same handbook (Cabinet Handbook 2011) framed by H.R.P.P. In fact the right standard or the only standard that should be followed by everyone in government is the standard highlighted by the Prime Minister in the foreword of the Cabinet Handbook 2011.

The standard is the [the mandate by the people is to govern in the best interests of Samoa]. That is people control according to the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa but not political control by an elected political government according to that elected government’s political interests and preferences. 

However, as I said above, some of the main policies from the Cabinet Handbook 2011 as quoted below are against the right standard because they were based on the H.R.P.P.’s political interests and preferences. 

“COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY 

1.22 The principle of collective responsibility thus means that all Ministers must stand together as a united front and in solidarity in presenting and defending their decisions, both in Parliament and to the general public.

1.23 If any Minister feels conscientiously unable to support a decision of Cabinet, he or she has one recourse and that is to tender his or her resignation to the Prime Minister.”

1.24 All Associate Ministers are also bound by this principle of collective ministerial unity, solidarity and responsibility.” 

“MINISTERS AND THE PUBLIC SERVICE 

1.38 In return, overall responsibility for the Ministry rests with the Minister. Since the Minister has the last say in making decisions on issues of policy within the Ministry and on the Ministry’s general direction, it also falls on him or her to explain and to defend the Ministry before Cabinet, Parliament and the public. 

1.39 This includes, should the need arise, defending any official in his or her Ministry, who may be publicly or politically criticized. As a public servant, the official cannot defend himself or herself. It is the Minister who must do so; for it is the Minister who is responsible for the acts of his or her Ministry officials. This is the practical meaning of the principle of ministerial responsibility.

1.41 As private individuals, every person is protected in his or her human rights under the Constitution of Samoa. However, as CEOs in, and employees of, Samoa’s Public Service, everyone is bound by the ethics of political neutrality, loyalty, integrity and professionalism in serving the Minister and the political Government of the day. Once a Minister or Cabinet has taken a decision all Public Service officials must accept and support that decision and co- operate fully in carrying it out.” 

Those double standard policies as listed above really explain how we have gotten at where we are today. History reveals the truth and the truth is unfolding right now and there will be a lot more to come about the truth. The Cabinet Handbook 2011 was just established in 2011 however the double standard policies in that handbook was a long standing practice in our government for many, many years before 2011.  

The L.T.R.A 2008 is the product of those double standard policies. The revelation of that finishing product (L.T.R.A 2008) was very shocking because not only that the L.T.R.A 2008 was not done according to the right standard [the mandate by the people is to govern in the best interests of Samoa] but also, we have only been served by the H.R.P.P government with the finishing product that is un-Constitutional without having legal consultations with us about the product. 

The right services that should be provided by the government for Samoans in relations to the “mortgage of lease over customary lands” must be started from legal consultations according to the Constitution. The government did not do it. That is the reason why the H.R.P.P government was heavily criticized by the public (Samoans) few years later after enactment of L.T.R.A 2008 but Prime Minister Tuilaepa and H.R.P.P denied it.

They defend their political interests and wrongdoings instead of the truth and the right standard, [the mandate by the people is to govern in the best interests of Samoa]. They established the L.T.R.A 2008 in accordance with their double standard policies but not in accordance with the right standard. We will continue tomorrow.

 

Nanai Malonuu Lealaiauloto Nofoaiga

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