Olo objects to P.M.'s "leader of House" label

Member of Parliament for Salega East, Olo Fiti Vaai, has objected to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi being called the leader of Parliament. He said that his authority should stop with the ruling Human Rights Protection Party, but not in Parliament.

The veteran opposition M.P. also reminded the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole'afoa Faafisi, is the rightful leader of Parliament. 

Speaking when Parliament reconvened on Tuesday, Olo reminded Tuilaepa that he is just another ordinary Member of Parliament who is the leader of the H.R.P.P.

Olo made the comment in response to Prime Minister Tuilaepa's decision to remind Parliament about his role as the "leader of the House" in connection ti questions about the principle of separation of powers.

Tuilaepa said there are some Members of Parliament who do not understand the meaning of the term leader of the House. He made reference to a former Speaker and a former Cabinet Minister whom he said did not understand the Standing Orders. He did not name anyone.

Tuilaepa said although Parliament and the Government are seperate branches of democracy, there are areas where they intertwine. Which is where he comes in as the leader of the House.

He dismissed questions about him controlling proceedings in Parliament.

“Those [claims] are based on unfounded views that do not completely understand the separation of power and the independence of the three arms of power,” he said. 

He pointed out that there is a connection between the three branches of a democratic government.

The Prime Minister said one of the Government has the funding that allows two other branches, Judiciary and Parliament, to function. 

Secondly, he said, that state also provides the protection for the safety of the country from those that break the laws created by Parliament.

When Olo took the floor, he said he was the M.P. who often questioned the leader of the House label.

“Honourable Speaker, the reason why I question him is because it’s clear under Standing Orders that he [Tuilaepa] is the leader of the House,” he said.  “He is the leader of the governing party but he is not the leader [of parliament]…” 

Outside Parliament, Olo said the definition of leader of the House under Standing Orders is clear that the Prime Minister is the leader of the party in parliament. 

“He doesn’t have a role in Parliament,” he added. 

“He is the leader of the political party and that role stops in that circle and he is not the leader of the Parliament. 

“The Speaker is the leader of Parliament and he makes those decisions.” 

Furthermore, Olo said it is important for people to understand the definition of leader of the House being referred to the Prime Minister and that parliament should be independent. 

He said the Prime Minister is just like any other M.P. in parliament and the Speaker should give every M.P. the same opportunity given to the Prime Minister in chamber. 

Speaker Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi had told Olo in parliament that the only person that interprets Standing Orders is him and not the M.P. 

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