P.M. considers crackdown on rebel M.P.s
The Prime Minister is considering closing “loopholes” in legislation designed to stop M.P.s from crossing the floor of Parliament to stop M.P.s from leaving their parties.
The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, spoke of the weaknesses in legislation designed to promote party loyalty during his weekly programme with Radio 2AP on Thursday evening.
Tuilaepa said the Government is considering amending legislation to make sure party M.P.s remain loyal to their parties for a full Parliamentary term.
Tuilaepa was speaking about the resignation of former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, from Cabinet and the ruling Human Rights Protections Party (H.R.P.P.).
"Fiame was there when we designed the legislation," Tuilaepa said.
"It was done so we (can) maintain the unity and peace within the government of Samoa.
"It has kept the peace and unity within the party and government for so many years.
"However, tensions started to rise when people who could not achieve what they wanted to get in the beginning decided to leave."
A classic example of that, said Tuilaepa, was the Former Speaker of the House, La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt who split with the H.R.P.P. following disagreements about legislation including the Electoral Act.
"He left because he wasn't honest with his duties as a Cabinet Minister. He only focused on running his businesses,” Tuilaepa alleged.
"We do not need these kinds of people in government. I pray that we don't have anymore people such as those in the Cabinet.
"These things happen a lot in other countries.
"But the legislation was designed to maintain good governance and unity within the government of Samoa. For example, if you entered Parliament as a member for [the Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.), you should remain as a member of S.N.D.P. until that Parliamentary term ends.
"Why? Because it is not cheap and nice when you go out and do campaigns and tell your constituency that you are a member of the S.N.D.P. political party and when the voters vote for you because they support S.N.D.P..
"But then once you are not given a Ministerial portfolio, then you start playing dirty games and decide to leave and join Tautua.
"The most honorable thing to do is to go back and ask your constituency whether they accept your actions or not.
"If you go back and have a by-election and get elected once again, that means the constituency has given you their blessing.
"That is how it should be done."
The loophole in existing legislation, according to Tuilaepa, is that it does not prevent an M.P. from leaving the political party under the banner of which they were elected.
"There is a loophole in the legislation that prevents members from crossing the floor or leaving parties. Because the legislation was designed with the mentality that all people are honest.
"But as we have seen, we have people who have decided to leave the party, and while they already have a party that they want to join, they just walk around claiming they are Independent M.P.s.
"That is the loophole of that legislation.
"So we are now looking at restricting that from happening.
"The most honorable thing to do and how it should be is, once you decide to leave a party, you are no longer an M.P., which means you will have to go back to do a by-election.
"The other thing is, seeing people resign from Parliament out of their will, and then return to Parliament after a by-election.
"There is a big error there and it needs to be corrected as it is not nice to see that you resigned out of your own will, and then return back after a by-election."
Tuilaepa went on to say that what Fiame did "is wrong” and alleged she had been consorting with opposition parties long before her resignation last week.
"Faumuina already made an announcement that he wants to join a party that is led by a woman. I knew back then that it was all part of their plans,” he said.
"That's why I challenged them in one of my programmes where I asked their so-called female leader to be brave and courageous and step forward. Stand up and lead the party and come and face me.
"That is such an embarrassment, in my opinion. Fiame stood like she was righteous, while Olo, La'auli and Faumunia were out there making these announcements that they have a female leader.
"We knew three months ago that she (Fiame) is a founding member. What does it mean by a founding member? It means, she has been there from the beginning.
"We knew from the announcements made by Olo and Faumuina.
"I feel sorry for Fiame because she is not respected by the members of her so-called party. They were the ones who sent photos of her to us during their meetings.
"There is no loyalty in that."