Village in dark about L.T.C. bills, chief claims

A matai from the village of Falefa says people in their village “have no idea” how the proposed restructure of the Lands and Titles Court (L.T.C.) will impact them.

Speaking during an interview with the Samoa Observer, Tuilaepa Soiamoa Mary Grey, claims their village are in the dark on the Government’s proposed legislations.

“I went to ask them [the Falefa matai] if they know what is going. They have no idea and they have no idea how seriously this matter will impact us in the future," Tuilaepa said.

"It will rise into a war. We are going to find ourselves in a war zone. When you ask them [about it] nobody knows…I told them this is a matter of life and death.

“I asked them if there was a meeting and they said everything was closed for coronavirus and they are shocked to have learned of this."

Tuilaepa said Falefa's Member of Parliament, Alaiasa Sepulona Moananu, should have explained the bills to the village.

But Alaiasa – when contacted by the Samoa Observer said the Government lawyers are preparing to visit villages to clarify the proposed laws.

He said he also met with the Falefa village council last Saturday and explained what the bills were, adding that he alerted the Village Council to the Special Parliamentary Committee hearings where they could raise their concerns.

The village visits by the Government lawyers would most likely begin in the town area and move out to the villages, the MP said.

Still, Tuilaepa Mary is not convinced.

She said the proposed laws will benefit Samoa’s wealthy and give them the edge to meddle in the affairs of villages, consequently disadvantaging ordinary families.

“For example, If I am a vulnerable person financially and I am the sa’o of the family, a sister of mine who has been gallivanting in America can easily come here and pay the village or the village mayor and do as they please,” she added.

“It is that easy so the village will get paid and the village mayor will receive gifts and money from people, but the vulnerable, the poor will be hurt.”

The Falefa chief also warned that there is a danger of a wealthy person using his or her wealth to pay a village mayor to receive a title and bypass a sa’o in the village.

“Some of them are very rich. They have the money and they will just go straight to the village, and pay the village and pay the village mayor to receive a matai title while the sa’o is bypassed, this is dangerous if it is passed.”

When the MP was asked why Falefa villagers were not alerted to the legislation, prior to their tabling in the Parliament in March, Alaiasa said he hopes the matai who is criticising him, is not the one who claims to be from Falefa but doesn’t contribute a monotaga or attend village council meetings.

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