East and West views clash in Salega L.T.C. consultation

The Salega East constituency is holding firm on its opposition to changes to the Land and Titles Court [L.T.C.] while Salega West is supporting three bills that would drastically change Samoa's judicial system. 

During the last leg of the Special Parliamentary Committee's consultation on three proposed bills held in Savai’i last week, the respective villages affirmed their positions.

Salega East – which consists of the villages of Vaipua, Sagone and Fogasavaii – had strongly expressed opposition to the changes. 

According to a video posted by the Legislative Assembly Office from the consultation, the villages of Salega East appealed to the Government for more time to discuss the substantial changes. 

Tapuai Etuale of Sagone said their position is firm on the proposed changes to overhaul the judiciary system. 

Another senior matai of Fogasavaii, Ufie Muagututia Matautia said the village has unanimously agreed to reject the bills. 

Another matai of Vaipua, Loli Enele briefly declared the village’s objection. 

However, in the Salega West the villages of Fuailuga, Samata tai, Samata uta, Fogatuli and Fagafau have embraced the Government’s proposed amendments.

The bills are in their second reading stage before Parliament. Collectively, the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Land and Titles Court Bill 2020 and Judicature Bill 2020 would amend the constitution and establish an independent L.T.C. 

A matai from Fuailuga said they now clearly understand the three bills and claim that there are others who are trying to mislead villagers into opposing the bills. 

“We support 100 per cent of the changes from the Government with the proposed legislation,” said the matai. 

Similarly, matai from Samata tai and Samata uta said the village is in support of all the changes. 

Some of the changes in the bill include the limitation of matai Sao [paramount chiefs] to five and the requirement and the establishment of another Appellate Court giving it exclusive jurisdiction to matters pertaining to Samoan customs and usage. 

The village of Fogatuli from Salega West also voiced their support for the proposed changes. 

However, one of the matai said the village raised some concerns before the Committee and made recommendations for the Government to consider. 

The village of Fagafau said they do not oppose the changes and have given their support for the Government-sponsored legislation. 

The villages are some of the 50-plus villages in Savai'i that made submissions during the Parliamentary Committee consultation in the island.

The Parliamentary Committee will be commencing their consultation works in Upolu soon. 

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