Historian questions free speech in H.R.P.P.
Renowned Samoan historian and author, Leasiolagi Dr. Malama Meleisea, has questioned the ruling Human Rights Protection Party's (H.R.P.P) policies on freedom of speech for its Members of Parliament.
The Samoa Observer sought the historian’s opinion following the resignation of the Former Speaker of the House and Cabinet Minister, La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polatiavao.
The veteran Parliamentarian for the Gagaifomauga No.3 constituency has been with the ruling party for over a decade, while his late father, Polataivao Fosi Schmidt, was a founding member of the H.R.P.P.
"Based on what I have read in and heard from the media, La'auli has decided to follow the advice of his constituency and, by doing so, he has apparently complied with [the] H.R.P..P. loyalty code - that is if a member disagrees with a party decision or stance on any issue, that member should resign," Leasiolagi said via email.
Leasiolagi is a Professorof Samoan Studies at the national university, has a PhD from Sydney's Macquarie University and has written several books on Samoan history. He said while he did not have enough first-hand knowledge of the M.P.’s motivation to leave to make “informed” comment on his exit itself, he said raised questions about H.R.P.P. policy.
He went on to say that La'auli's resignation raises a very serious concern about Government policies and the expression of freedom of speech.
"So while La'auli's resignation is in accordance with party process and policies, it is still, a very serious concern for me that difference of opinion appears not to be tolerated (and therefore freedom of expression) within the party that is supposed to respect and protect fundamental human rights," Leasiolagi said.
"I am even more concerned by the thought that this code of loyalty might be influencing somewhat, the way Government policies are being implemented by the executive arm of Government. I hope not. It's almost analogous to a village council banishing a person or a family for disagreeing with village council decisions."
La'auli announced his resignation from the ruling party on Independence Day following a decision made by the chiefs of his Constituency to leave the party.
La'auli’s resignation was welcomed by the Prime Minister and the leader of the H.R.P.P., Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.
Tuilaepa also said that the H.R.P.P. did not sack La’auli.
“If you came through the election as a member of the HRPP, once you reject its policies, it means you have sacked yourself,” Tuilaepa said during his weekly programme on 2AP state-owned radio.
“What happened, in this case, is that he wasn’t sacked by the HRPP, he sacked himself when he violated our agreements.”
He has also challenged the Gagaifomauga's M.P to a by-election test.
The Speaker of the House, Toleafoa Aiono Fa'afisi was contacted for a comment regarding the concerns raised by Leasiolagi Dr. Malama Meleisea.
However, he did not return a call by press time.
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