Faleula, A’ele villages support L.T.C. changes

Declarations of support for Government-sponsored legislation to restructure the Land and Titles Court and the judiciary grew on Monday.

The villages of Faleula and A’ele raised their hands in support of three bills which are currently before the Legislative Assembly after meeting the Special Parliamentary Committee that is currently holding public consultations.

The Committee continues is seeking views from villagers in Upolu for the third week running on the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, the Land and Titles Court Bill 2020 and the Judicature Bill 2020. 

Holding its public consultation at the St. Therese Resort on Monday, the village of Faleula was the first village to meet with the Committee. They were welcomed by veteran Parliamentarian and Committee Chair, Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana-Gidlow.

The Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, was among the matai of the village of Faleula who made their submissions to the Committee. 

Faleaula made a recommendation to the Committee to review a proposed change to limit the number of matai sa’o (paramount chief) a family can have to just five. 

“We should just leave it to the families to decide,” Loau told the Samoa Observer after making their submissions. 

“That was the recommendation we made to the Committee and we asked them to review that part, and the Committee has also explained why they included that in the bills to try and control the number of matai sa’o within families. 

“However, there are other areas that we need to consider, our culture and customs are part of who we are as Samoans, so we have to be careful.”

Highlighting the importance of communal rights was the other recommendation the village of Faleula made, Loau added. 

“Individual rights are important,” said Loau. 

“But [...]  there should be a balance [with communal rights] and we need to make sure that we take the other seriously and [not] look down on the other. We should emphasise both communal and individual rights to reflect our customs and culture.”

Other than that, the village of Faleaula have accepted all the other proposed judicial changes. 

The bills are at the second-reading stage of Parliament and would create an autonomous Land and Titles Court independent of judicial review by the Supreme Court. 

“We have given our support for the three bills,” Loau said.

The village of A’ele followed Faleula with its representatives led by Seufalemau Tasi Fiamatai throwing their support behind the bills currently before Parliament. 

They were welcomed by Gatoloai, who spoke on the purpose of consultations. 

“The Committee has been asked to gather the views of the villages in Samoa regarding the three bills before Parliament, before we make a report to Parliament for a third reading,” Gatoloai explained. 

“The reviews we will make will be based on the submissions made by all the villages to the Committee.”

Gatoloai also introduced the Committee to the village of A’ele. 

In making their submission, Seufalemau said they were happy to finally hear “the other side of the story” regarding the changes proposed by the three bills. 

“We have heard so many different stories about the impacts of the changes proposed by the bills,” Seufalemau said. 

“The three bills have made a lot of noise ever since the inceptions of these bills and we did not know which one to believe."

However, Seufalemau said they are now happy to know that these changes are only for the benefit of the people.

"It's good to finally know and understand the purpose and the real issue behind these changes. Changes are good as they are necessary for the time and era we now live in."

He also used the opportunity to thank the Government for continuing to formulate new policies and legislation for the betterment of this country. 

"Kudos on the Government and the Parliament for suggesting these changes," said Seuifalemau. 

"We have decided to support the proposed changes."

Public consultations continue.


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