Iva, Saipipi support L.T.C bills, Parliamentary Committee still in Savai'i
The Special Parliamentary Committee conducting public consultations on three bills regarding the Land and Titles Court and the Judiciary continued its work in Savai'i for the second week.
The bills in question are the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, Lands and Titles Court Bill 2020, and Judicature Bill 2020.
The Special Parliamentary Committee was told that the bills would not return to Parliament for the third reading unless a Special Parliamentary Committee hears from villagers throughout the country.
The first week of consultations saw a variety of responses from the first few villages, with the majority of them making strong opposition against the proposed changes.
This was revealed by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, in an interview with the Samoa Observer last week.
He said that most submissions by the public to the Special Parliamentary Committee hearing in Savai’i, have opposed the Government’s Judicial reform bills.
However, a few villages have also shown their support for the bills.
Leauanae Afano, a senior matai from the village of Iva Savai'i said while they generally the spirit behind the bills, he said there were conflicting views among the matai in the village because "they did not understand the changes proposed by the bills."
"However, we now understand and have come up with the decision to support the bills," Leauanae told the Samoa Observer.
"It was difficult for all of us to agree on one side because many did not understand the changes proposed by the bills. But after we got to hear from the Committee, we made a positive submission that the village (of Iva) supports the changes."
Leauanae said there were a few things about the proposed changes that need to be revised.
"For example, we need to look at the area where the changes said the government will control how many matai a family should have. We have advised the Committee to look into that area and make some changes or leave it as it is.
"These (matai) titles are a very essential part of what makes us Samoan. It has always been up to the extended family to choose who to become a matai and who should lead and look after the family. It has kept the peace within families Samoa over the years.
"But for the most part (of the changes), we give them (bills) our support."
Leauanae said they were aware of the proposed changes put forth by the bills before parliament before they were asked to make a submission to the Special Parliamentary Committee.
"The topic has been discussed on the television and radio so we heard about it before we were asked to make submissions. We just needed clarifications on some of the issues or changes proposed as many of us did not fully understand it."
The village of Saipipi has also raised their hands to support the proposed changes.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer after the village made a submission to the Special Committee on Thursday, Tofa Neli Tanielu said it was not easy for the village to come up with one decision.
"It was hard to make a decision as there were conflicting views regarding the bills," he told Samoa Observer. "The fact that most of the matai in the village did not understand or had little knowledge about what was happening was the main issue for us."
Nevertheless, Tofa told the Samoa Observer that most of the matai from the village of Saipipi had a negative response to the bills before they met with the Special Parliamentary Committee.
However, after hearing the explanation from the Committee regarding the changes proposed by the bills, the village decided to make a positive submission and agree to the changes.
"There was a misunderstanding and a bit of confusion in the beginning because many did not fully understand the changes proposed by the bills.
"These are very sensitive matters and it's natural for our people to get upset and want to go against the changes. But the Committee cleared the air today and explained to the village why the changes are necessary so we all agreed to give our full support and agree with the proposed changes.
"We have already made our submissions before the Committee.
"Many villages have decided to oppose the bills but I guess it's because they do no understand the changes proposed by the bills.
"As the bible says, the village can be destroyed for lack of knowledge.
"But now that everything is as clear as crystal and the village understands the bills, we have given it our full support.
"The Committee have explained everything clearly and that is why we have given it our full support."