Are we looking at a new political party in the making?

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 17 February 2019, 12:00AM

The truth should be told one way or another. When it comes to the ongoing saga involving former Speaker and Cabinet Minister, La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao, the million tala question is this; now that the H.R.P.P. has publically declared he is no longer a member of the party, is he still then a Member of Parliament?

Someone should tell the public the truth, whether it comes from the Speaker of Parliament or the Prime Minister himself. We say this because the answer to this question appears elusive and no one seems to want to say it, not Prime Minister Tuilaepa, Speaker of Parliament Leaupepe Tole’afoa Faafisi or anybody else.

What’s so difficult about it? 

We know that the law says once a Member of Parliament crosses the floor, it automatically means they have to have a by-election. But in this case, La’auli has not voluntarily crossed the floor; he has instead been pushed from the H.R.P.P. for voting against a Government-driven law.

Which raises the question of whether a party can push a member across the floor to the point where they are required to have a by-election. Indeed, this case is opening up an interesting debate about how powerful a party can be, in this case the H.R.P.P.

While we have had cases in the past where Members of Parliament have had to undergo by-elections, that happened because they had voluntarily crossed the floor. La’auli hasn’t and he maintains that he is still a member of the H.R.P.P. 

So who has the final say? And when are they just going to tell us?

Speaking of which, last week, the H.R.P.P. Whip, Alai’asa Moefa’auo Moananu, was quite adamant in confirming the H.R.P.P. Executive had unanimously removed La’auli. This was done three weeks ago.

 “Everything was spelled out in the letter (from Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi) and that letter detailed the reasons behind the decision,” Alai’asa explained. It would have been nice to be able to get a copy of the letter but Alai’asa was obviously not at liberty to release it.

In the meantime, he said there was a lot more behind the decision to remove La’auli than what has been talked about in the media – which has mainly revolved around his vote against a Constitutional amendment - promoted by the Government.

“There were many things that he (La’auli) was involved in with his private businesses,” he said. “He should have done the right thing to protect the government and his name by resigning from his private business. 

“If you have read the letter from the Prime Minister he had advised La’auli some 5 – 10 years ago not to be involved with those businesses and move away from it.

“The case between him and Peseta rolled over from the other Parliamentary term and he had to resign (as Minister of Agriculture) due to that. We accepted his decision (to vote against Constitutional amendment).”

Told that La’auli insists that his position to vote against the Constitution amendments was to voice his constituency’s view on the law, Alai’asa said that is La’auli’s interpretation.

“It is clear that what he did is enough to let us know that he is no longer in the party,” he said, adding that the decision was in the best interest of the party. 

The man of the moment though, La’auli, disagrees. Contacted for a comment, La’auli denied the Prime Minister said he has been removed from the political party.

“He (Tuilaepa) did not say that,” assured La’auli. 

Asked to comment on claims that his involvement with his private businesses contributed to the decision, La’auli said: “There is no one in Parliament that is not involved in (private) business.”

Getting back to the issue of being removed from the party, La’auli said: “I cannot say what the decision (on that matter) is. 

“I will let you know once the people that appointed me in the position (as M.P. for H.R.P.P.) make a decision. I had met with my constituency and they will prepare a press release on the outcome of our meeting and decision.”

On Friday, that decision was relayed to the nation during a press conference where Sasina, Letui and Fagae’e, villages in Gagaifomauga No. 3, backed La’auli.

Speaking on behalf of the constituency, Seve Avaula Panapa, made it absolutely clear that Sasina, Letui and Fagae’e remain supportive of their Member of Parliament, staying with the H.R.P.P.

“If the H.R.P.P. refuses to honour his membership, that does not change anything, he will always be our Member of Parliament,” Seve said. 

As for La’auli, he said: “There were three parties in Parliament, then two and now just one ruling party. And considering the advantages and disadvantages of what has occurred, I am praying for what is next.”

Are we looking at the possibility of a new political party in the making? 

Who knows? Stay tuned!

Have an awesome week Samoa, God bless! 

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 17 February 2019, 12:00AM

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