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Tiavea worried at matai sa'o limit, yet to decide position

The village of Ti'avea is yet to make a decision on three bills proposing changes to Samoa’s Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) and the judiciary.

Representatives from the village including the Paramount Chief, Tolu Iakopo, met with the Special Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday but have to return next week as the village has asked for more time to consult their people.

Tolu told the Samoa Observer that only four chiefs were able to attend the meeting with the Committee including the village mayor, and the village is yet to meet to discuss the three bills before arriving on a position.

"We have decided to dedicate our next Monday to these bills, we will be meeting the rest of the village to discuss what we had discussed with the Committee," he said.

"The other two bills we have accepted but one of them we had not because we don't agree with the provision that limits the number of chiefs. And we had told them why we don't want this provision."

Section 13 of the Land and Titles Bill 2020 provides that to maintain the integrity of the institution of the matai sa’o [paramount chief], only five matai sa’o for a family may be registered at any one time. 

Despite assurances by the Committee, Tolu said the village of Ti'avea has requested more time to deliberate on the bills at hand.

"We worry for our families and the matai sa'o and possible differences. We requested for time to talk to our villages and in response the Committee said not to worry as many villages have done the same thing as they have also not liked that particular provision."

The Parliamentary Committee is chaired by veteran Parliamentarian, Afamasaga Gatoloaifaana Gidlow.

Tiavea was among four villages who were meant to meet with the Committee which was based at the Saleaumua Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) Church hall. The other villages include Samusu, Amaile and Saleaumua. 

Public consultations on Upolu have been ongoing since returning from Savai’i in July.

The three bills in question include the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, the Land and Titles Bill 2020 and the Judicature Bill 2020. Together they would, if passed, create an autonomous L.T.C. which would not be subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court.

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