A.G. to draft law on permanent Sunday business closure

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has tasked the Attorney General’s Office to draft a law to permanently close all business activity on Sundays.

The instructions to the Attorney General’s Office were revealed during Tuilaepa's recent interview with the state broadcaster Radio 2AP.

Speaking during his interview, he said that there are "devilish ways" that have been legalised in other countries, which are activities that he claims led to God destroying the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“These are all clear in the bible but nowadays other countries have legalised businesses such as prostitution where men or women to sell their bodies for worldly pleasures to get money,” he said.

However, Tuilaepa added that these ways [prostitution] are prohibited in Samoa, especially in our Christian beliefs.

“This includes abortion which refers to females aborting their babies so parents would not know, but the moment that a woman is with child that is the time God has given her a soul and if it is taken away, you have become a murderer.

“Many countries have also legalised these ways but it is illegal under our laws.”

He then made reference to businesses operating on Sundays for profit or making money. 

“We are trying to get us back; for now we are using the orders under the coronavirus state of emergency.

Under the S.O.E. orders, all businesses close on Sunday except small shops and supermarkets but under restricted trading hours. 

Tuilaepa acknowledged calls for a return to supermarkets opening on Sunday, prior to the declaration of the S.O.E., but he is adamant all commercial activity should cease on Sunday.

“The Attorney General’s [Office] has already been told to prepare a law that will continue these things [closure of businesses operating on Sunday]," he said.

“But some have started to make noise saying what about the shopping done on Sunday, with anything that is done, there is always a hindrance, the answer is do it on Saturday.

“Let us go back to keeping the commandments from God. There are rights that we should adhere but there are also rights that are questionable on my mind that is not relevant to God’s commandments.”

The Prime Minister then warned that law breakers can capitalise on the situation and pointed to laws in various American states that gave members of the public the right to carry firearms.

“But what has happened is that the law breakers have used this to sneak in and say that it is their right," he said. “Like what is happening in America, where a person has a right to own gun at home and carry around for protection.

“But that is not permitted in our country unless there is proof you own a farm but if police find out that you have used it wrongly then they will take it away, it has to be licensed so that police know the gun is lawfully owned.”

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry C.E.O., Lemauga Hobart Vaai, has told the Samoa Observer that the S.O.E. orders targeting business operations on Sunday could be the last straw for commercial operators. 

Even market-going farmers, who are not Chamber members, have relayed their complaints. 

Lemauga said the Chamber had made a request for the Government to allow Sunday for normal business operations.

“But as everyone has heard [what] the [Prime Minister] said, the Government will not resume that normal Sunday practice,” he said.

The Prime Minister did not give a timeline on when the draft legislation is expected to be tabled in the Parliament or if relevant stakeholders such as the business community will be consulted for their views.

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