La'auli hits back at Tuilaepa
Former Cabinet Minister and senior Member of Parliament, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao, has hit back at Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, saying he cannot sack him from the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).
During an interview with the Samoa Observer, La’auli accused the Prime Minister, who is also the leader of H.R.P.P., of “bullying” him by continuing to say he is no longer a member of the H.R.P.P.
The former Cabinet Minister was responding to comments from the Prime Minister who said there are currently 46 H.R.P.P. members since La’auli had left the party.
"He is no longer part of the political party,” Tuilaepa said.
But the senior M.P. for Gagaifomauga No. 3 said the Prime Minister had no authority to sack him from the political party.
“My constituency and I have the authority to decide whether I should leave the party or not, not him,” said La’auli.
“He does not have the authority to sack me from the party. I respect the position of the Prime Minister and his titles but he does not rule the party.”
The former Speaker of Parliament said Tuilaepa is behaving like a one-man authority.
“He continues to do this to me where he bullies me to the corner,” said La’auli.
“With due respect, he knows no boundaries when it comes to people he disrespects, from the former Head of State to the Deputy Prime Minister, church ministers, our Judges, lawyers and the general public.
“He has done this to me many times and to others but let me ask this, who is he to humiliate our people?”
Furthermore, La’auli reminded that his forefathers, including that of the Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, were founding members of the ruling H.R.P.P. Party.
“We worked hard to build the party with our sweat,” he said. “He should mind what he says to us, those that came yesterday should be mindful of those that came before them.
“This was not the motivation behind the establishment of the Human Rights Protection Party to have one person decide for all.”
H.R.P.P. General Secretary, Atoa Louis Tafunai, was contacted for a comment on La’auli’s situation.
Atoa declined to comment saying such decisions are made by the party’s executive.
H.R.P.P. Whip, Alai’asa Sepulona Moananu was also asked to confirm what happened to La’auli and the by-laws of the party.
Alai’asa said he would need to look into the by-laws again before he can make a statement.
The public feud between Tuilaepa and La’auli began in 2019 when the Senior M.P. voted against Constitution amendment bills that he claimed affected his constituency.
At the time Tuilaepa said the H.R.P.P. Committee had endorsed La’auli’s vote against the Constitution amendment by Government as his resignation.
“We have an agreement, a written agreement,” Tuilaepa told the media at the time.
“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.”
The Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio was asked to clarify what happens when an M.P. gets kicked out of a political party.
In response, Faimalo said the Parliamentarian can become an Independent M.P.
“You will only lose your seat if you resign from the party or hold yourself out as a representative or member of a political party or an organisation that has political aims and desire to take part in an election,” he said.