Party Whip confirms La’auli’s H.R.P.P. fate

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong 12 February 2019, 12:00AM

Former Speaker of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, La’auli Leuatea Polataivao, has been removed from the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.). 

The decision was confirmed by the H.R.P.P. Whip, Alai’asa Moefa’auo Moananu, during an interview with the Samoa Observer yesterday. 

Alai’asa said the H.R.P.P. Executive unanimously reached the decision last month. 

“That decision (to remove La’auli) was made three weeks ago,” he said. “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 the decision to remove La’auli from the party was more than what was reported in the media. 

“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 added. 

The Whip reiterated the decision to remove La’auli was to protect the H.R.P.P. party “from any destruction from similar matters in the future from other M.Ps”.

Contacted for a comment, La’auli denied the claim from Alai’asa that the Prime Minister in his letter stated that he is 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.”

La’auli declined to comment on whether he accepts the decision from H.R.P.P. to remove him from the political party. 

“I cannot say what the decision (on that matter) is you will have to wait until it comes out,” he said. 

“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 (whether to remain with H.R.P.P. or leave).”

The “people” that La’auli is referring to is his constituency. He assured he will respond to the letter from the Prime Minister through writing as well, soon. 

Meanwhile, Alai’asa acknowledges the work and contribution of La’auli as a senior member in the political party. He maintains that his position as the Whip for H.R.P.P. is to maintain the unity of the political party and ensure harmony among members. 

Asked what will happen to La’auli if he is removed from H.R.P.P., Alai’asa said he will become an independent member. 

He explained from experience during 2006 – 2011 parliamentary sitting – two M.P's that were registered under H.R.P.P. left the party and became Independent M.Ps.  

The two M.P's he is referring to is former Tautua Samoa Party Leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II and former Associate Minister for the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Muagututi’a Siaosi Meredith of Aleipata Itupa-i-Lalo. 

H.R.P.P. lost the two M.P's at the time to a row over plans to change the side of the road vehicles drive. Both declared themselves independent M.P's. 

H.R.P.P. was understood to have held a caucus meeting before the debate of the Road Switch legislation where the members were told to quit if they chose to speak against the bill. 

Alai’asa maintained that H.R.P.P. exercised democracy and practiced its rights by removing La’auli. 

Asked how that is democratic, he said it was a unanimous vote and like democracy process the majority wins. 

When he was asked to comment on the consequences faced by La’auli for exercising his rights to vote based on his belief, the Whip said that is his right to exercise and the majority voted against the constitution amendments. 

Lastly, Alai’asa said there are ways to deal with such matters and where by-laws and decisions can be overturned. He used an example where in the Samoan tradition any wrongful act can be forgiven once an ifoga is made. 

Asked if he is implying that La’auli should apologise to the political party, Alai’asa said he is only saying that he only wishes La’auli can humble himself and consider this. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa in previous interviews made it clear that the H.R.P.P. committee endorsed La’auli’s vote against the Constitutional amendments by the Government in Parliament as his “resignation.” 

“We have an agreement, a written agreement,” Tuilaepa told Radio Samoa. “Before you become a member, we have an agreement where you pledge your allegiance to the party. That agreement is your commitment that you will not do anything to harm the party. So once you do something to harm the party, you have made a decision on yourself.” 

Tuilaepa insisted that every member of the H.R.P.P. is aware of this and when the H.R.P.P. Committee met the decision was quite simple. 

“When matters pertaining to the Constitution are raised where amendments are needed, no one is allowed to (vote against the party’s position). This is where this agreement comes into play,” Tuilaepa explained. 

“It’s quite clear in the agreement that when you enter the party, you will support the party and do what the party wants and that you will not embarrass the political party.  

“This is why the H.R.P.P. is strong because of its unity. If we don’t do this now, this will be the beginning of the destruction of this party because others will say; well nothing has been done to him so I can try too.” 

When Parliament voted for the Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018, Tuilaepa said members of the H.R.P.P. were aware it was a party vote. They also knew it was an issue involving the Constitution so no one was to oppose it. 

 “This (H.R.P.P.) law applies to when the Constitution is the subject of discussions and amendments.  

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong 12 February 2019, 12:00AM

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