Disqualified candidate wants Act reviewed

By Pai Mulitalo Ale ,

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Leo’o Tautalatasi Dr John Adams.

Leo’o Tautalatasi Dr John Adams.

An aspiring politician for Aleipata Itupa i Luga whose candidacy has been declared void by the Supreme Court has called on the government to review the Electoral Act.

Leo’o Dr. John Adams refused to say that the recent amendment involving the monotaga is discriminatory, but he said it’s unfair and unclear.

“I believe it needs to be relooked at and reviewed,” he told the Weekend Observer. “There are a lot of loopholes there that must be shored up.”

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of an eligibility challenge brought by incumbent M.P., Amituana’i Fagaivalu Samu against Leo’o. The complainant argued that Leo’o had not provided his monotaga as the law demands.

Outside Court yesterday, Leo’o said he is one of many candidates who had served their villages for many years and is struggling to understand the Electoral Act, especially the monotaga clause. 

He believes the government had rushed the amendment to be passed and as a result have overlooked a number of issues. He said the amendment should not have been made until the next Parliamentary term.

 “To be quite honest I thought this new amendment should only be implemented in the next General Elections,” said Leo’o, adding there are many issues that are “incomplete” and “unclear.” 

For example, Leo’o said the amendment will allow others who do not have chiefly titles to get their matai titles and render their monotaga only for three consecutive years so they can qualify for the elections.

 “This new amendment is unfair for us who have rendered our monotaga on an on and off basis because we travel overseas for work. What it does is that it tells someone to just get a matai title and render your monotaga only three years before the election and you should be okay.”

Asked if he thinks the amendment is discriminatory, Leo’o said he can’t comment from a legal perspective but from an ordinary perspective, the amendment needs to be reviewed. 

“My opinion is that the government needs to revisit the amendment because it has not been prepared well.  What about people who have rendered monotaga for 20 to 30 years on an on and off basis?” Leo’o also believes the amendment limits and discourages election candidates. This is unfortunate with Leo’o saying he believes the opportunity should be given to people to have a voice and represent their constituencies in Parliament.

Having said that, Leo’o said he accepts the Court ruling but said he would not give up on his political aspirations.

He thanked his supporters, his village of Lalomanu and his family for their prayers and moral support. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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