A senior Member of Parliament for Gagaemauga No. 2, Fa’aso’otauloa Pati Taulapapa, has cautioned the government against changes that have been proposed as part of the Electoral Act review.
The Member of Parliament, who is also the Associate Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, is particularly concerned about part of the review, which will affect his constituency.
Gagaemauga No. 2 is among electoral constituencies where voters are spread between Upolu and Savai’i.
Fa’aso’otauloa’s constituency for example includes Saleaula in Savai’i and Salamumu in Upolu, similar to the situation with Leauva’a and Gagaemauga No. 1.
According to sources, part of the Electoral Act Review includes looking at redefining the electoral boundaries.
This will see new seats in Faleata and Vaimauga. The Review recommends that Leauva’a will be a stand alone constituency while voters from Salamumu will join the Safata roll.
This is where Fa’aso’otauloa is not happy.
“The move is inappropriate,” he told the Samoa Observer when his views were sought.
“I believe Samoa has already been chosen. Samoa wasn’t chosen by numbers when our forefathers designed the boundaries, it was done through mutual respect and the fact that everyone has their own destiny.”
The Associate Minister said he is not against the Government’s plans but he wants to express his concerns on behalf of the people whom he is in Parliament to represent.
“I believe I stand as a representative for my constituency and I remind again that in Samoa, all positions have been chosen (O Samoa o le atunu’u ua uma ona tofi).”
The Member of Parliament said the government should consult the villages if they plan to change these boundaries.
“I think it is only fair that the Ali’i ma Faipule of villages affected have the final say in these matters.
“That is my belief. Also I am concerned about the traditional salutations of villages and constituencies. What are they going to do about that?”
Fa’aso’otauloa called for caution and asked the Electoral Office to slow down with what they are trying to do.
“The plebiscite should be returned to the villages for consultation so that everyone has a voice on this change,” he said.
“They (Electoral Office) should return to the village for the views of women and even children.”
He reminded that Salamumu and Saleaula in Savaii are one with the same fa’alupega (traditional honorifics).
“We all know that the people of Salamumu are from Savai’i. They migrated across during the Mt. Matavanu eruption, similar to the people of Leauva’a.
Last week, the Office of the Electoral Commissioner responded to queries concerning several proposed changes to the Electoral Act review.
These recommended changes include new seats for Faleata, Vaimauga, Leauva’a stand alone, Salamumu to Safata.
In an email to the Samoa Observer, Faimalo Mathew Lemisio said the matters were before Cabinet for deliberation.
“I wish to inform your good self that all amendments being proposed to the Electoral Act 1963, the Constitutional Act 1963 and the Constitution of Samoa, are all in draft form and are now being deliberated by Cabinet as we put together this response," Faimalo said.