Speaker weighs in on La’auli’s predicament

The Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole’afoa Fa’afisi, has not seen the letter Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, wrote to another former Speaker and Cabinet Minister, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polata’ivao.

He is also unaware about whether La’auli has been ousted from the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.). But as a senior member of the H.R.P.P., Leaupepe reaffirmed Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s position that members who vote against the party’s position automatically resign themselves.

 “We have policies in place and they must be obeyed, otherwise what is the purpose of being a member of the Human Rights Protection Party when there is no loyalty?” Leaupepe said.

The Speaker expressed his views during an interview with the Sunday Samoan where his views were sought on the matter. On Thursday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa revealed that he had written to La’auli, to thank him for his services.

 “I wrote to thank him for removing himself from the party,” Tuilaepa said. “I thanked him for making that decision and we happily accept his decision.”

The Prime Minister refused to say whether La’auli’s services to the party have been terminated. Speaker Leaupepe took the same position yesterday.

“I don’t know anything about the Prime Minister’s letter however if he has written to La’auli that is the correct move. There are bylaws within our Party that every member must abide by,” Leaupepe said. 

Asked whether Laauli’s actions warranted his exit from the H.R.P.P., the Speaker said yes. He said party policies dictate that members must toe the party line or else they remove themselves from the party.

 “Once you pledge to be a member of the party, one must be loyal, supportive and comply with the bylaws of the party,” said the Speaker. 

Is this democratic?

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“Yes it is, don’t betray the party,” Leaupepe said. “You cannot cross the floor if you don’t get your way.That is what happened in the past and we ended up with three Prime Ministers in one year as a result of crossing the floor. That paints a negative picture that Samoa is not a stable government.”

He reminded that in accordance to bylaws of the H.R.P.P., one must be loyal to the party and its mandate.

 “For any Party, there are rules, regulations and the members have already sworn their loyalty to the party, and if you are disloyal then what is the purpose of being a member?” 

Asked whether the H.R.P.P. caucus met to discuss the matter, Leaupepe said there is a Special Committee within the party that deals with such issues. 

 “There is a committee in place, whether they met or not, that I don’t know, but my response is that there is a Committee and I am certain they have met.” 

Leaupepe spoke about the issue of Members of Parliament crossing the floor.

“It has happened in the past and we don’t want history to repeat itself,” he said.

“We want a stable government. If the government were unsteady Samoa would not be able to receive financial assistance or aid from overseas governments and financial institutions." 

“Samoa is different from other Pacific Islands, we have recently graduated from the least developing countries; the infrastructure (compared to other countries) are significant; our health care is stable; our senior citizens are receiving financial assistance; education is paid for by the government, these are signs of a good a Government." 

“One must have foresight to see through to the future rather than just considering what will happen tomorrow.” 

Asked to explain the process if a Member of Parliament is removed from the political party, the Speaker said: “If you resign or you are ousted by the party that means, you have to stay independent unless you want to cross the floor to another party then one must go through the by-election.” 

Contacted for a comment, La’auli said: “I cannot comment on any of your questions. I will hold a press conference next week.”

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