Party laws don’t apply in Parliament sessions – Olo
The constitutional rights of parliamentarians supersede the bylaws of any political party when the Parliament is in session.
That is the view of Member of Parliament Olo Fiti Vaai, when he was asked to comment on the current tussle between colleague MP La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, and the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) over the MP’s party membership.
He said the bylaws of political parties become subservient to the Samoan Constitution, when applied during a session of the Parliament.
“There is only one guideline that is applicable are the Standing Orders with the Constitution of the Samoa as the supreme law.
“All other laws do not apply in Parliament. That is how a democratic parliament operates,” he said.
As an example to support his interpretation of the law, Olo claimed he cannot be charged by the Police if he assaulted another MP during a session of Parliament.
“And this is why I cannot fathom over how an MP was ejected from the HRPP for violating their bylaws. It is ironic that no laws are applicable in Parliament, yet HRPP thinks their bylaws are applicable. That is ludicrous and preposterous.”
Pointing to Article 46 in the Samoan Constitution, he said a constituency seat can only be declared vacant under the following circumstances: if an MP resigned from or changed his or her party and joined a party he or she wasn’t a member of.
Olo also used the opportunity to alert Samoa’s political leaders to Article 13 of the Constitution, affirming citizen’s rights in relation to freedom of speech, assembly, association, movement and residence. While Article 15 affirmed freedom from discriminatory legislation.
“All persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection under the law,” Olo added, and reiterated that the HRPP should be reminded that it is the people who voted for them to become their voice in Parliament.
“This is dictatorship on the Prime Minister’s part. The MP voted against the bill in accordance with the wish of his constituency – the people who voted La’auli into office – and yet he was ousted. Now you tell me, what is that? Did the HRPP vote the MP into office? No!”
Olo said the challenge that La’auli currently faces with Tuilaepa and the HRPP should be a wakeup call to all leaders.
“It took a while for me to raise the concern, as I was taken aback at the level of dictatorship we have seen. This should be a wakeup call to all the MPs and the potential candidates,” he added.