A serious Constitutional crisis in our country. Part II

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The seriousness of the Constitutional crisis is not just about the serious issues as explained in the first letter and my other letters in the past. It also involves the denial of serious behaviour by the people who have committed them. 

That is where I began to smell a dead rat (tulou le gagana)

Because of that reason, it opens a new standard of seriousness in my concentration. It encourages me to search to an extent which led to the uncovering of accusations that I have made on the Media against the government in relation to the Cabinet Handbook 2011. Finding the truth behind that problem is the only target of the search because once the truth has been found; there is no other way around for the government to make excuses and to cover up untruths and wrongdoings. No more going back and forth and back and forth for our government. They will be stuck and cannot create any more defenses. 

While at this point of the conversation, I want to make something clear. The pursuit for the truth does not mean that I am trying to create propblems. I am creating honest conversations from my honest opinions based on facts and the truth. I understand it is unnecessary to just go ahead and accuse people on the Media without justification. Also, I understand, taken advantage of any opportunity provided on the Media for personal satisfaction concerning an issue debating on the Media is unnecessary.   

Therefore I take every side very seriously and with great awareness. Which means, having an opportunity to share on the Media or the social media about an issue, is an opportunity to be used wisely because all parties involved in a discussion about an issue for one main reason or different kinds of reasons are all paying great attention to the Media’s coverage of any issues whether they like it or not. So when I said above that I did search in great extent for the truth, then that shows awareness and how serious I am not only about the truth and the issue but also about the space that I have been offered on the Media. 

Blaming the government on the Media about the Constitutional crisis that we have been facing for sometime now is a massive thing to be done on the Media by an ordinary citizen like myself. So to be fair for the government and its supporters with regard to that situation, transparency and accountability is required. On the other way round, I expect our government and its supporters to be fair with their arguments by revealing the truth through transparency and accountability. 

So for the sake of transparency and accountability, it is very important to do things in the right way. I have to provide evidence for accusations and provide some suggestion to overcome the problem if necessary. Those are my set goals for transparency and accountability. The simple way to achieve those goals is by walking us through every single steps of the small planned investigation that I did. There are only four steps of the investigation. 

The first step at the forefront is already completed and delivered in my previous letters. That step is about the development of the case study according to the current issue. Its primary target is searching out for the truth and builds arguments from there. The second step is revelation of evidence and justification from history. Third is about more evidences but this time is not from history but from some of the real cases and scenarios already occurred in Parliament and on the media since the beginning of 2018. 

Some scenarios I have brought on the table involved public criticisms against some Members of Parliament. I considered those criticisms as legitimate concerns because from the perspective of a voter or a citizen of a Constituency, the main reason why a person puts up his/her hand to run for Parliament because he/she has the guts to fight for the rights and concerns of the Constituencies they represent in Parliament. That is the main purpose of elections. 

Accordingly, the Members of Parliament already targeted by public criticisms; they deserved blames as they did not serve their missions for their Constituencies with honesty and with sincere respect. That is, they did not address concerns of their Constituencies in Parliament regarding the L.T.R.A. 2008 and the Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018. Lastly is about Cabinet contradictions and Parliament contradictions. So without further due, let’s begin the “walk through” from the first step.          

Step 1: Case Study (A serious Constitutional crisis in our country)

This is already said and done. The introduction of the case study is already delivered in full details in the first letter and the opening statements of this second letter. Also, more and more related details about this case study were already covered in my other previous letters.

Step 2: Evidence / Justification from our history.

The “Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa” is the concrete evidence. That is the simple truth. The Constitution is the basis of justification and that is the first piece of our history we should always seek out to justify our opinions and arguments in relation to any Constitutional issues about Christianity and Samoan Customs and traditions. 

Samoa contains Churches, other Religions, Academics, Justice / Court, Village Councils / Pulega a matai o alii ma faipule and ordinary citizens. When it comes to any legal issues or any threats against Christianity and our Samoan customs and traditions, they all seek to validate their opinions and their arguments by indentifying of the “Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa” and the faith of the “Founding Fathers.”

Under those circumstances, therefore, it is a must to put to rest the Cabinet Handbook 2011 to be repaired or to be replaced. If it doesn’t get repaired or replaced, nothing is going to change about the smell of the dead rat in our Parliament and in all our government systems. Similarly, the Acts and Bills already created from the Cabinet Handbook 2011, they should be put to rest as well. They should be repealed immediately and removed from our book of law and the record of facts and truths.

Step 3: More evidences (Real cases and scenarios in Parliament and on the Media)

Firstly, since the introduction of the Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018 which affects Saleaula, the voice of Saleaula in Parliament; which is Faasootauloa Pati Taulapapa, was useless in Parliament through out that period of time. Because he is the voice of Saleaula in Parliament, he should raise Saleaula’s opposition against the bill in Cabinet and in Parliament but he did not do anything.  

And because of the reason that he did not do anything in Parliament to address Saleaula’s concern, the Village Council of Saleaula took a trip to town to speak for themselves in front of a Parliament Committee. What can the Prime Minister say about that type of situation? Is that okay with the Prime Minister? Why can’t he try his Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018 to Lotofaga and Lepa and see if what kinds of responses he is going to get from Village Councils of those Constituencies? 

What would be his reactions if the Prime Minister of our country was somebody else who has been applying the same Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018 on Lotofaga and Lepa? Can he stand up for protection of Samoan customs and traditions by challenging the Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018  in Cabinet and in Parliament or remained tight lipped like he did with all Ministers of Cabinet and Associate Ministers?  

Because of the Cabinet procedures restrictions, Faasootauloa Pati Taulapapa continued to keep his silence when the Village Council of Saleaula appeared before the Parliament Committee to oppose the Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018. To me, the two main Cabinet procedures restrictions quoted below is the dead rat in the Cabinet Handbook 2011.  

COLLECTIVE REPONSIBILITY

“1.17 In Cabinet, decisions are taken by collective consensus. This is in keeping with the traditional Samoan way of soalaupule. Discussions are informal. The ordinary rules of open debate and decision making by majority vote as applicable in Parliament do not apply in Cabinet. In Parliament the debate is between the Government and the Opposition. In Cabinet, all the Ministers, together, make up the Government…”

 “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.”

SECRECY OF PROCEEDINGS 

“1.26 The proceedings of Cabinet are privileged and are protected by the requirement of secrecy. In their oath of office as required under article 34 of the Constitution, all Ministers in Cabinet individually undertake, inter alia, “---not directly or indirectly [to] reveal such matters as shall be debated in Cabinet and Committee and in Executive Council and thereby commit themselves to secrecy---.” This undertaking of secrecy is binding not only when a Minister is serving in Cabinet. It also continues to bind the incumbent even when he or she is no longer a Minister.”

According to the other principle in the same handbook, Associate Ministers are not members of Cabinet and yet, under Collective Responsibility 1.23 as quoted above, Associate Ministers are also bound by the principle of Collective Responsibility intended only for Ministers of the Cabinet. That is the main reason why Faasootauloa Taulapapa Pati did not do the right thing to fulfil his Parliamentary duties for the Constituency and for Samoa of speaking up against the Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018. 

Secondly, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga is another Member of Parliament has been captured under the same radar. He was exposed and criticized on the Samoa Observer 12 April 2018 (Where is our M.P. Peseta Vaifou Tevaga?) by a concerned citizen from his constituency regarding customary lands and the L.T.R.A. 2008. The following are words from the concerned citizen –

 “While the government and critics strongly debate the issue about customary lands, I can hardly hear the voice of our representative in Parliament regarding this matter. For your information, people of Faasaleleaga #4 didn’t vote for you to go there to just sit and remain silent with Tuilaepa’s hands over your shoulder.”

 “We, the citizens of Faasaleleaga #4 strongly and are really against the L.T.R.A. 2008 and you can’t open your mouth to be our voice?”

So the fact of the matter is that their not challenging of the Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018 and the L.T.R.A. 2008 in Parliament for their Constituencies because they are prohibited by Cabinet procedures is serious misconducts. Let go of the Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018 and the L.T.R.A. 2008 unchallenged is defending of the Cabinet procedures. Defending of Cabinet procedures is denial of serious misconducts. 

The “denial” of serious misconducts is the supreme power of the Cabinet Handbook 2011 and that is the saddest thing about this whole situation. Now we know that immediately after a representative became a Cabinet Minister or an Associate Minister, the Cabinet Handbook 2011 turns every thing upside down about the real purpose why the representative run for Parliament for the Constituency.

When that situation happens which is already happening, the representative can no longer be a truthful servant for the Constituency. Instead of being the mouth piece for the Constituency, the representative becomes the mouth piece for the Cabinet to serve the Prime Minister’s agenda. If the representative decides to challenge the Cabinet by objecting an un-Constitutional decision of Cabinet, the representative is requiring under the supreme power of the handbook to resign from Cabinet. Not only that, if the representative decides to leave the Cabinet, the representative is still prohibited to keep all Cabinet secrecies hidden.  

On the other hand, if the representative decides to support policy proposals that are not align with the truth in the Constitution or against the will of the Constituency, it puts the representative in the state of being a liar to the Constituency and the country. 

That situation is going to be remained unobservable because of the secrecy procedure. It is tough, uncomfortable and it is unnecessary. That situation becomes a secret burden all through out the whole term of the representative in Cabinet and in Parliament. Can you see the impact Mr. Editor of that situation on the integrity and the dignity of Ministerial positions especially the seat of the Constituency?

Furthermore, there is one more disturbing situation that has to be revealed. When the public criticize what they have identified as wrongdoings and untruths caused by Cabinet, the representative’s supporters quickly rush in for defense. They still trust that person without knowing the new changes within that person. Nothing has been changed in the way they trust that person since the beginning when they chose that person to run for Parliament to represent them. What they did not realize is that the real representative they used to know in the beginning does not exist anymore.    

As a result, it creates differences and disturbances all over the place between the people of our country while the representatives in Cabinet and former representatives of Cabinet who caused the problems refuse to come forward and admit their faults and deal with the problems in the right way. The only thing they have been able to do is denying, attacking and impart pain as much as possible. The supporters of representatives that committed misconducts, they have done the same thing of denying and attacking without engaging in honest conversations. They are okay with their representatives’ serious misconducts. They care more about them than the truth. 

So what can the Prime Minister say about those situations? How about the current Ministers and former Ministers; can they say something about those situations? What is the real purpose of Members of Parliaments representing the Constituencies in Parliament? What is the point of general elections? Is it okay with the Prime Minister when all Ministers and their associates go out to visit their Constituencies and look at them in the face and say to them that every thing is okay but in reality they are telling them lies because of the Cabinet Handbook 2011? How do they feel about those situations?  

Is that the right example from a father figure of the nation known as Prime Minister? Is that type of situation okay for the country? Those are very serious information and very serious questions for our country. It hurts. The revelation of secrets hidden in an un-Constitutional secrecy due to political exploitation can cause great harm that really hurts. It’s a shame but we have to stay strong. Laaulialemalietoa Polataivao was trying to say something in Parliament in the past which I believe relates to this situation. In Samoan, he said – “Sa taotaomia manatu ma lagona ao iai i le itu le la.” To be continued.


Nanai Malonuu Lealaiauloto Nofoaiga   


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