P.M. surprised by La'auli's resignation
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi says the decision by former Cabinet Minister, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, to resign from Parliament, was his own.
Speaking in Parliament after La’auli had exited the chamber following his verbal resignation, Tuilaepa revealed that he would have supported a motion by his Deputy, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, to issue La'auli with a formal warning against misleading Parliament.
But Tuilaepa said La'auli's resignation took him by surprise, especially since Members of Parliament were still discussing the report, and many of them had called for La'auli to be given a chance.
Tuilaepa reminded that the investigation by the Finance and Expenditure Committee, which was later referred to the Privilege and Ethics Committee, was prompted by comments made by La’auli himself.
“This started from matters raised by the Member against the Ministry of Police and Prisons,” said Tuilaepa.
“To me there was substance in the matter raised by the Member at the time. An investigation was warranted to find out the truth in all of this. The allegations needed to be confirmed in case the officers implicated would have their services terminated."
Tuilaepa pointed out that was the reason why the Finance and Expenditure Committee was tasked to look into the allegations.
He added that La’auli then requested to have the matter referred to the Privilege and Ethics Committee to avoid conflict of interest. This was also done.
Speaking about the motion moved by Deputy Prime Minister Fiame, Tuilaepa said it was the most sensible thing to do.
“I had thought the motion was very well thought out, that it accepts the findings from the Committee to give credit for their work,” he said.
“The Committee members are big fish from this Parliament that had made recommendation that is being debated in Parliament.
“My decision and position is to support the motion to warn the Member to refrain from making unfounded allegations and that was the decision I had in mind. The decision that the Legislative reaches is crucial for the future of this Parliament."
Furthermore, Tuilaepa said the investigation into remarks made by La’auli is not the first of its kind in Parliament.
He said it also happened sometimes in 1989 to 1990 where an M.P. made serious allegations of the member being the target of a conspiracy to murder him.
Tuilaepa said at the time the Chamber was debating the establishment of the Samoa Housing Corporation to allow the public who were unable to loan from banks to loan from the corporation.
He recalled that the M.P. from Anoamaa East at the time took the floor and made serious allegations directed by the Prime Minister.
A motion was moved for the Member to provide evidence to support the serious allegations he made in Parliament, he said.
According to Tuilaepa after four days when the M.P. was given the chance to prove his claims, he failed to provide anything in Parliament and he was later dismissed.
“With regards to statements made in Parliament, it's prudent in this time and age (that they are accurate) because the world is listening to our speeches,” he said.
“I am not important, I am just another Member of Parliament, but what is important is the integrity of this Parliament so that people do not condemn and disrespect it.
“The country is watching us, we are in Chamber and are decision makers and they judge us accordingly whether our words are based on love, based on mutual respect or based on justice…”
Speaking about La’auli, Tuilaepa reiterated that they do not have any personal differences.
He said the dispute between La’auli and Associate Minister, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga, was something that he tried to resolve.
But La'auli opted to resign from Cabinet then. Tuilaepa added that La'auli also wanted to resign from being a Member of Parliament at the time but he stopped him.
Lastly, Tuilaepa said Members can say what they want outside of the Chamber but allegations made during the sessions must be truthful.
“I apologise to Parliament, but the decision from the Member is his own and not anyone else,” he said.
“This is not the end of it, the sun will rise again. We leave it to God, he will comfort the Member."
The motion from Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa was seconded by Tuliaepa.
The Speaker of the House, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi accepted the motion as the decision from the Legislative to issue a stern warning to La’auli and for him to refrain from making unfounded remarks.