Twelve sign up for H.R.P.P., more candidates expected
A gathering of candidates intending to fly the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) banner in the upcoming General Elections yesterday gave members of the public a first real glimpse at who is putting their name in the hat.
Men dominated the candidates who registered on Tuesday at the Petesa Hall, with eleven men and one female. More candidates are expected to sign up in the coming weeks.
But yesterday's turn out was quite muted compared to the electric atmosphere during the same event in the lead up to the 2016 General Elections.
The candidates, new and old, were accompanied by their supporters.
Prime Minister and leader of H.R.P.P., Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, said 11 men and one woman had registered, including those contesting against current Members of Parliament.
Tuilaepa pointed to a list of independent candidates for H.R.P.P. on the wall showing the dominance of the party with 42 nominees already recorded on it not including current M.Ps.
He said current M.Ps have always taken the “first class seat” being given the first choice because of their service while the new candidates are runners up.
“The only difference [between new and old candidates] is their placement inside the party but when it comes to counting the votes they are all H.R.P.P. members,” he said.
The Prime Minister boasted about the difference between the ruling party and other parties whom he said are desperate for candidates.
“Once we publicise [registration] candidates turn up with their constituencies to show their support [for candidates],” he added.
“There is no need to search for them unlike other parties they try to persuade candidates. That was how it was from the beginning but it has since changed with a lot of support from the country on the political party that they can trust.”
The leader of the H.R.P.P. also congratulated new candidates who are going up against current Cabinet Ministers for their courage.
He said it is never easy to go against a Minister.
Its nine more months until the general election in April, and Tuilaepa said the registration process on Monday has also revealed some of current M.Ps wont be contesting again in 2021.
He could not name those that have decided not to contest but assured that the political party has candidates for all constituencies including those occupied by Independent M.Ps.
The M.P. for Aana Alofi No. 2, Ili Setefano Taateo was also mentioned by Tuilaepa who said the independent M.P. has expressed his intention to run under H.R.P.P. and was accepted.
About the Salega East seat occupied by Olo Fiti Vaai, he said, they have a candidate by the name of Tapuai that will be competing against the current M.P.
Asked if H.R.P.P. will take their registration to Savai’i, Tuilaepa said “that is the norm.”
He added there are always problems in the process where other candidates intend to roam around with the mindset that someone should carry them to get their registration done.
Looking to the general election, Tuilaepa said the government has implemented new laws to change this kind of mindset making it compulsory to register and compulsory vote.
He said this was evident during the recent by-election for Faasaleleaga no2 seat where a lot of people did not vote.
Furthermore, he said, these are some of the laws required amendment on the Constitution and would not have been passed if the H.R.P.P. did not have the numbers to make the changes.
The Prime Minister also used the opportunity to address concerns about Parliament having a one state party.
He said a lot of there are criticisms that a one state party is a bad thing but in Samoa’s case it is unlike those from overseas where force and weapon is used by government’s to stay in power.
“What happened [in the last general election] was the will of the country to support the party,” he said.
He said it was a milestone for Samoa and the government of the day had put in place its “home grown opposition” to oppose government.
While he agrees that there should be an opposition party, he pointed out, that the H.R.P.P. had established its own opposition with its own M.Ps debating with the government over issues.
He said this was the other reason why there were only one Associate Minister for each Minister and the remaining 19 members are to be oppositions of the government.
Tuilaepa concludes that no one wants to join a losing party and it is the hope of the ruling political party to return to government after the general election.