Tautua Samoa commends Fiame
The Tautua Samoa Party has commended outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa for her “bravery” in speaking out against a proposed Lands and Titles Court (L.T.C.) overhaul.
“The Sa’ofa’apito’s resignation initiated from discontentment and concern over the three controversial bills to make Land and Titles Court autonomous [and] is applauded,” said the Party leader Luagalau Dr. Afualo Salele.
“This speaks volume and it is a sign that the current administration should reconsider the proposed bills that seek to overhaul the judiciary.”
He said Fiame would be more than welcome within the party’s ranks.
The three pieces of legislation that drew criticism from Fiame included the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, L.T.C. Bill 2020 and Judicature Bill 2020.
On Friday Fiame, who has been in Parliament since 1985, resigned from her position as Deputy Prime Minister saying her opposition to the bills made her position in Cabinet no longer tenable.
“And the truth is if I cannot support the legislation I have to tender my resignation,” she told the Samoa Observer.
Her resignation came two days after she had described the bills as not “well prepared.” She said she would vote against the bills in Parliament if her constituency’s concerns were not addressed.
"In our view, and in my view as a Member of Parliament, the bills have not been well prepared," Fiame said.
"There are too many gaps, and many uncertainties which may cause some conflicts."
If the bills, currently at their second-reading stage, are passed in Parliament, the L.T.C. will become an independent body with its own High Court, creating a new fourth branch of Government.
Fiame said the amount of authority bestowed by the bills to the proposed independent Lands and Titles Court was concerning.
She said the conditions for those seeking recourse through the L.T.C. and the independence of the court’s judges and officers needed to be made clear.
The leader of the Tautua Party said they have been against the proposed L.T.C. bills since they were first introduced in Parliament.
“Not only does it put customary lands at risk, families will also be ripped apart as a result of limiting the number of high chief titles to five for each family,” Afualo said.
“We strongly oppose this. Why would a law touch the heart of families and descendants of Samoa? It is going to be the reason for many conflicts as only five may not satisfy all sides of a family.”
He said the country is divided because of these bills and the Government should choose its next steps wisely.
“These bills will only create more rifts between those who support and those that do not support it and given the election is near we don’t need this kind of event,” Afualo said.
“We don’t want to see division among our people and it may present danger for us, therefore it is time for the government to withdraw these measures.”