The Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, pulled the curtains on the XVth Parliamentary Sitting yesterday with a message to the leaders of Samoa.
“As leaders we have a sacred duty to be vigilant about our democratic processes, about universal principles of due process and transparency and about the rule of law,” he said.
“We have a sacred responsibility to ensure that we are accountable not only to ourselves and to our nation, but also to God.”
His Highness was speaking during the official closing of the 2011 to 2016 Parliament term, held at Tuanaimato. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of families, friends and colleagues of Members of Parliament.
According to the Head of State, Samoa experienced many blessings during the past five years. He praised the launch of Samoa’s first State of Human Rights report.
“Advocating for human rights is advocating for the humane treatment of all people at all times,” His Highness Tui Atua said. “It is advocating for the right of every human person, no matter what their status or position in society, to have all that they need to have to enable him or her to live a healthy, dignified, safe, and empowering life.” The Head of State also spoke about the importance of the Constitution.
“Our Constitution, the supreme law of our land, prohibits inhumane practices. It prohibits the abuse of power and corruption in any shape or form; it counsels against violence and demands accountability and transparency,” he said.
“Our Constitution holds the wisdom and dreams of both our forebears and our children to come. We must always tread carefully, not with fear but with love, whenever we revisit the Constitution, lest we tread carelessly on those dreams.”
His Highness Tui Atua also praised the achievements of Parliament, including improvements in the telecommunication sector, the hosting of the S.I.D.S conference, the push to have more women in Parliament, efforts to address youth offending and family violence.
“Samoa can be proud of her sports men and women, her public servants and private businesses,” he said.
“Many have achieved international standing in their chosen fields and despite considerable odds. They are inspirational role models for all but especially the young.”
Lastly, His Highness Tui Atua paid tribute to private citizens and active coalition groups – those within government or across governments, the opposition, donor groups, the diplomatic corp., the public service, churches, villages, civil society, and private businesses –who have made a public stance, whether large or small, against personal and/or institutional violence, corruption and/or abuse over the last five years.
“As prudent and loving leaders we must be constantly open to evaluating and re-evaluating the wisdom, relevance and justice of our Constitutional provisions before we exercise our power to amend them.
“Constitutional amendments ought only to be done where it is determined, after rigorous debate and scrutiny in the House and the appropriate support of the people, to be the right and just thing to do.”
He also acknowledged all “our overseas families and friends” who have continued to faithfully contribute to our remittances income
“Today, let us both celebrate our achievements this past five years and remember all the efforts and sacrifices made to ensure peace and good governance in our nation,” he said.
“I commend the government, the opposition, the independent members of the House, and all Parliamentary staff who have contributed to the successes of this 15th Parliament, for your loving work and commitment to Samoa and its living legacies. Mr Speaker, those are my reflections. May God bless the remainder of our proceedings. I now pronounce this 15th Parliament of Samoa officially closed.”
*The Head of State’s address will be published in full in the Sunday Samoan