Rebel MP remains in H.R.P.P.
Member of Parliament La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao remains aligned with the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) nearly one year after controversially voting against his party.
La’auli, who represents the Gagaifomauga No. 3 constituency, said he understood that he continued to be a member of the party of Government during an interview after a sitting of Parliament on Tuesday.
“As far as I know and as far as my constituency wishes, I am a member of the H.R.P.P.; [at least] until after my court case,” the M.P. said.
“The reason I say this is because I was told that I resigned, when in fact I did not resign. I did not resign.”
La’auli crossed the floor last February on a constitutional amendment that had been moved by the Government: the Electoral Constituencies Bill, which he said would have a negative impact on his constituency.
In February, 2019 the then H.R.P.P. Whip, Alai’asa Moefa’auo Moananu, said La’auli, a former Speaker of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, had been removed from the ruling party. Alai’asa said the H.R.P.P’s Executive had unanimously decided to eject the M.P.
La’auli referred further questions to the party's leader, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi.
“You should ask the Prime Minister, because I did not resign. And then he said he accepted my resignation when I did not resign, but for the time being I am focusing on my court case," he said.
La’auli refers to an ongoing legal battle with Associate Minister Peseta Vaifou Tevaga currently before court as a criminal and civil case.
The Office of the Legislative Clerk has not yet received official word from the H.R.P.P. on the status of the membership for La’auli.
“We have not received any official word and in standard procedure the Speaker has been be informed officially but so far we have not received anything from the H.R.P.P.," Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei said.
We will inquire with the H.R.P.P. Whip, Alai’asa on this matter,”
He also noted that under the Electoral Act, a member cannot cross from one political party to another: Parliamentary standing orders call for a by-election in cases of an M.P. party switching.
“If that happens, a by election is required. But if a member wants to be independent, they can do that, but they cannot cross from one political party to another it is against the law,” he said.
The Samoa Observer contacted Alai’asa and he was unclear on the status of La’auli.
“I am not sure from between that time [February, 2019] and now on the status of this matter. I’ll inquire and get back to you,” said the H.R.P.P. whip during a phone interview.
In February, a press conference was called by La’auli and high Chiefs from his Gagaifomauga No. 3 constituency including Sasina, Letui and Fagae’e.
The villages remained fully supportive of La’auli as their representative in Parliament, and the ruling party.
Seve Avaula Panapa, at the time made it absolutely clear that Sasina, Letui and Fagae’e remained supportive of their Member of Parliament – even if a by-election were called.
“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.