Tumua ma Puleono "still going", not cancelled
Tumua ma Puleono co-founder and Secretary, John Malaeolevavau Peterson has shut down rumours that the Tumua ma Puleono Party has been cancelled, asserting that they are still in the political race for next year's poll.
The party was registered with the Electoral Office in May and have garnered candidates quietly preparing for the 2021 General Elections.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Mr. Peterson said they have three "potential candidates" willing to contest seats in parliament.
"We're still going, but we're not as prolific as the other ones," he said.
"We are still on our original role in educating people in some aspects of what is going on in Samoa regarding constitutional [changes], for example, the three bills [in question]."
The three bills which have recently generated opposition nationwide are the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Judicature Bill 2020 and Land and Titles Court Bill 2020.
Mr. Peterson, said discussions on forming the new party had been held for several months until the three proposed amendments were introduced that the members of the party knew it was time to spring into action.
In terms of attracting candidates, Tumua ma Puleono said staying loyal to the concept of an unconventional party, the political party are seeking out underdogs to be in the election run.
"We've said from the beginning that we are unconventional and so [the party] is led by untitled men for now. If everyone becomes a chief and no untitled men, [...] so we're mostly looking at attracting the unseen, [and] the unheard, the underdogs, so to speak," he said.
"The women especially, as well as the humble you know, the man who stays at his wife's family (faiava), the security guard, the dishwasher and all that."
Currently, there are three active members of the party. The others are co-founder and senior adviser, Elisapeta Solialofi David and political activist and business adviser, Annie Malia Bartley-Brunt.
In July, the Tumua ma Puleono party played its policy cards in full as they released a complete policy manifesto.
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.
The party’s manifesto goes into unprecedented detail. It also 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.
Tumua and Pule also 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.
Separately, the Tumua ma Puleono also argued the need to limit the terms of the Prime Minister and Parliamentarians.
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.