New party issues manifesto, election challenge
Ten months ahead of next year’s general election the Tumua ma Puleono party has played its policy cards in full as they released a complete policy manifesto on Friday.
The party is the latest to announce its plans to stand against the incumbent Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), bringing the total registered opposition parties to six. Another, led by Laauli Leuatea Polataivao, has declared an intention to stand but is yet to formally register.
The party’s manifesto goes into unprecedented detail. It includes provisions such as drafting a law to bring criminal charges “in Parliament” against lawyers responsible for the Lands and Titles Registration Act of 2008 and the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020.
Opposition to a range of bills that would, collectively, create an autonomous Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.), independent from judicial review by the Supreme Court, motivated the newest opposition contender.
It was officially registered in March 2020.
Written in their manifesto, Tumua ma Puleono also known as “The Unconventionalist Party” stressed that such measures are necessary for ensuring the stability of Samoa from those who “mistake our unsophisticated families as fools.”
“The Constitution’s instructions are written out in simple language about the need to consult our Elders when customary lands are to be leased,” the Manifesto reads.
“The arrogance of these lawyers warrant[s] a lesson to be set in stone of the need to respect the rule of Constitutional law no matter how educated you think you are.
“They will be criminally charged with conspiracy against the Constitution and the People of Samoa, and disbarred and prohibited from practising law in Samoa ever.”
The six-page manifesto also stated their intention to alter the “structure of elections” to replace the “low standards” in Parliament.
Simply put, the Tumua and Puleono does not believe that the historically accepted requirements for standing for office – a matai (chiefly) title and eloquence – are any longer enough.
“How will such minds understand complicated laws drafted up by educated lawyers like the Lands and Titles Registration Act of 2008 (L.T.R.A.)? Did they rely on their own understanding in approving this law, or on explanations by draftees of this law?,” the manifesto reads.
Critics say the Lands and Titles Registration Act (L.T.R.A.) 2008 places the ownership of customary lands. But those who advocated the statute say that it was introduced to help protect and increase clarity for transaction for freehold land only.
The manifesto cites Members of Parliament from the H.R.P.P as examples of the declining standards for entry into Parliament.
“Tumua ma Puleono recognises the danger this practice poses on the future of [the] nation and our children if we continue to keep this accepted low standard in choosing who our Government policymakers shall be,” the Party wrote Manifesto.
“These are representatives who pass laws that end up regulating the lives of our families at home with little understanding of their meanings and effect.
“These H.R.P.P. Members in Parliament, who created a law to change our Tu ma Aganuu by limiting the number of Saos a family can have, is an example of the danger we are pointing out, of how low our standard is for qualification to be in Parliament. “
Tumua and Pule say they will respond to the decline in quality of candidates by requiring that their candidates must publicly announce their intentions and plans on creating businesses, youth employment, education, healthcare and even making Samoa Airways profitable.
“It is unconventional to Samoa, but not to the outside world. We want to change the structure of these elections,” Tumua and Pule said.
“We want to begin this type of approach hoping that it will eventually be accepted to replace the low standard we have now, of choosing eloquent public speakers as the main qualification criteria.”
Separately, the Tumua ma Puleono also argued the need to limit the terms of the Prime Minister and Parliamentarians.
“This is the subject that we believe will separate progressive thinkers from those who believe this privilege belongs only to them and their families. This is an additional troubling trend emerging out of our Nation in choosing Representatives,” the party manifesto reads.
“There are these families who pass these positions down to their descendants as if they inherited them by birth. We, as the Nation, will not inherit the best minds out of this kind of political scheme.”
Tumua ma Pule officially brings the number of contenders in the political ring to six. But if the former Speaker La’auli follows through on his intention to form a new political grouping, that number will rise to seven, making the 2021 election one of the most contested in decades.
The Secretary and spokesman for the newly formed party, John Peterson, said discussions on forming the new party had been held for several months.
The party is yet to reveal any names of candidates involved in the party. It is currently seeking a Chairman and leader.
The five other registered and contesting for seats in the General Elections are H.R.P.P., Tautua Samoa, Samoa First Political Party (S.F.P.P.), Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.) and the Sovereign Independent Samoa Party (S.I.S.).
Tumua ma Puleono released its manifesto via email on Friday. Attempts to contact party representatives for interview and further comment were not successful as of press time.