Matautu village offers support to proposed changes
The village of Matautu has backed reforms being proposed by the Government for the Judiciary and the Land and Titles Court as a Special Parliamentary Committee continues its consultations in Upolu.
The Committee has been tasked to consult the public on the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, Lands and Titles Court Bill 2020, and Judicature Bill 2020- before it presents a report to Parliament for the third reading.
Matautu was the second village to meet with the Committee on Tuesday.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, high chief, Pupuali'i Senio Pupuali'i, confirmed the village's support for the proposed changes.
However, there are a few things Pupuali'i said that the Committee needs to revise before submitting a report to Parliament.
For instance, he pointed to the issue of communal rights.
"Communal right fits perfectly for our village," he said.
"In our village Matautu-uta and Matautu-tai we have people from all around Samoa staying and living there. Most of them are not matai from the village. But then they break village rules and regulations, because they do all sorts of bad behavior especially the youths. So when we (village) council fine them for bad behaviors they don't accept it.
"For our village, we already drafted a village regulation that guides the behavior of the villagers and for the well-being of the village.
"As you know the fa'amatai (matai system) was Samoa's court back in the days. They make laws to guide the village.
"Back in the days, the matai made the laws for the family, the lawyer, the policeman, doctor and pastor of each families.
"These were the roles and responsibilities of a matai within a family. They make laws, make sure that the family and village follow these laws and act as peacemakers. And that is why we want to highlight the communal rights. That is very important."
However, that does not mean they are frowning upon individual rights, said Pupuali'i.
"But that does not mean we do not support the emphasise on individual rights, we do support individual rights as well. We support the bills."
Nevertheless, Pupuali'i said the Committee needs to remove a certain part of the changes which proposes giving the government the power and ability to choose the number of matai sa'o (High Chief) a family can have.
"To me personally, the only reason why that part can convince me to say yes to that particular part, is to avoid giving out high ranking titles to so many people," said Pupuali'i.
"For instance, the title Tofilau. Tofilau is a very important title and one of the highest ranking titles in Samoa. But now we have so many people holding that very important title. So if one title holder does something wrong, it will bring shame and disgrace to such an important title. That's the only reason why I agree to control the number of matai sa'o a family can have.
"However, I do not agree that it should be controlled by the Government. That is not for them to decide or choose.
"Leave it to the families to decide who they want to be their high chief. For example, I hold the title Pupuali'i, so I am the matai sa'o of my family. There is no one else but me, my family can decide after I'm gone who is next in line or who will carry on the title. The government has no right to tell families who is next.
That's all we can say for now, but we have agreed to support the bills. We will wait after the explanations from the Committee, then we will make other recommendations.
"Other than that, we are supporting the bills."
The Committee met with five different villages on Tuesday.