F.A.S.T. luring candidates: La'auli

The new Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi [F.A.S.T.] political party has lured 10 candidates away from other opposition parties months away from the general election, its leader says. 

The former Member of Parliament and Chairman of F.A.S.T., La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, confirmed the 10 candidates had switched to represent their banner, which he said they did of their own choosing. 

Some of those candidates that have now registered under F.A.S.T. had contested under the Human Rights Protection Party [H.R.P.P.] and Tautua Samoa Party in previous elections. 

“I can confirm that is happening [candidates switching parties] and it was out of their own freewill,” La’auli told the Samoa Observer in an interview. 

“Our only advice to them is to properly resign from those parties, we do not want to be in a position where we are accused of forcibly taking their candidates. 

“It would also be nice if you can ask those candidates why they decided to move so you can hear it from them directly and their reasons.” 

F.A.S.T. is one of seven political parties that have officially registered with the Office of the Electoral Commissioner to contest next year’s General Election.

The ruling H.R.P.P. was the first party to have publicly announced its candidates registration for the April 2021 General Election. 

The party leader and Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi said there are 101 candidates for the ruling party including current sitting Parliamentarians. 

There are currently 45 H.R.P.P. members in the Legislative Assembly after La’auli and M.P. for Urban West, Faumuina Wayne Fong became Independent when they left the party. 

La’auli subsequently exited Parliament following the declaring of his seat vacant. A by-election for the Gagaifomauga No. 3 seat will be held this week. 

Recently, Tuilaepa said what makes the H.R.P.P. different from other political parties is they do not go out their way to force candidates to join them unlike other parties. 

He added that most of the candidates for the party are very good people including those that have served the Government for many years and held high positions. 

But La’auli disputed the claims from the Prime Minister. 

The former Cabinet Minister said if what Tuilaepa is saying is true then the H.R.P.P. would not be publicly advertising for candidates on radio and television. 

“He is saying that they do not go out to find candidates or force them but why are they making radio and T.V. announcements about [candidate] registration,” said La’auli. 

“It's like they are begging for candidates and that does not go in line with what he is publicly announcing. 

“For us, we don’t have a policy to announce candidates' registrations. They [candidates] just turn up.” 

La’auli said the party even had to turn away some candidates because they already had candidates ready to contest those constituencies.

The former Minister said the Prime Minister always boasts about their party’s  candidates having a high calibre but he said their methods for selection were different. 

“We want candidates who are honest and have the heart for our people and that is the most important qualification we are looking for,” he said. 

“They might have lawyers and wealthy people on their side but we have candidates who might not be wealthy and well educated but we have those that have foresight, wisdom and heart to serve our people.” 

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