Olo questions P.M., claims decision unconstitutional

Member of Parliament for Salega East, Olo Fiti Vaai, has questioned Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi's decision not to appoint a Deputy Prime Minister in the wake of Fiame Naomi Mata'afa's resignation.

Olo has also accused the Prime Minister of violating the Constitution, which he claimed demands that the position be filled at all times. 

The Member of Parliament made the claim during an interview with the Samoa Observer where he proceeded to remind Tuilaepa that no one is above the law.

The position of the Deputy Prime Minister became vacant when veteran Member of Parliament for Lotofaga, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, resigned two weeks ago.

In the Constitution under article 32 b.a), it states that the Head of State shall acting on the advice of the Prime Minister appoint one of the Ministers appointed under sub-clause (b) to be Deputy Prime Minister. 

Mindful of the Constitution, Olo said the ruling Government and the Prime Minister are breaking yet again another law by insisting he will take on both roles until after the General Election in 2021. 

“The Constitution is clear on the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister," Olo said. "The Prime Minister needs to be reminded that he doesn’t own Cabinet. Cabinet belongs to the country and he is only the leader of Cabinet. 

“The people own Cabinet and in the Constitution, it stipulates clauses that governs the work of the Executive and what they should do, Tuilaepa needs to obey the Supreme Law.”

Olo pointed out that while the Prime Minister is the leader of the Government in power, it does not mean what he wants will overrule the Constitution. He said it appears that the Prime Minister has breached the Constitution and feels he is superior than the rule of law. 

“The whole country is watching and this can only be described as being communist country being run without any law,” said the M.P. 

“This is our Constitution and everyone including the Executive and himself have to obey it.” 

Attempts have been made to get a comment from the the Prime Minister and the Government through Press Secretariat. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa told TV3 last week that he will not be appointing anyone as his Deputy. 

He said there are only a few remaining months in this parliamentary sitting and with the coronavirus pandemic impact the appointment of a deputy is not urgent. 

“So I have decided to take on the Ministry [of Natural Resources and Environment] because when Fiame is overseas, I am the one who oversees it,” he said. 

“And whichever Minister travels, I always take on the role, that is my founding role.” 

However, Olo believes that the reason why the Prime Minister wont appoint a new Deputy is because he does see any of his Ministers or members in the H.R.P.P. fit for the position. 

“It seems to me that there is no one in there that is qualified for the position other than its predecessor Fiame,” he said. 

“The way I look at it all of them are qualified to occupy the seat but maybe he feels that they are not reliable. 

“One other reason could be because he does not want to appoint someone and that might cause tension in the party and push others to leave too.”

Furthermore, the M.P. added that the Head of State under the Constitution is required to make the appointment upon advice from the Prime Minister. 

He said the Head of State has a role to play to follow up on the appointment as required under the Constitution. 

Olo also used the opportunity to respond to claims from H.R.P.P. Whip, Alai’asa Sepulona Moananu that not having a deputy appointed will save taxpayers funds. 

“This will be a huge cost saving for the government, especially now we’re in the middle of the pandemic, we need all the available funds we can save for our preparations for the coronavirus,” Alai’asa said. 

“These are some of the issues we considered prior to the resolution the Prime Minister will take on the portfolio that Fiame Naomi Mata'afa once held.”

 But Olo said the strategy was dirty politics when the H.R.P.P. is clearing breaching the Supreme Law of the country. 

He added that had the Government want to save funds they would think twice about spending $500,000 on tent bills and other supplies that were never went through the tender process. 

While the Prime Minister defended the $500,000 claiming common sense Olo reminded that there is no such law called common sense. 

“There are provisions under the Public Management Act and Public Act that says that anything that reaches $500,000 has to go through tender,” said Olo. 

“They didn’t follow that and yet broke that law and the way they are behaving is as if they own Cabinet when it belongs to the country. 

“What is the point of having these laws that are supposed to govern their work when they don’t follow it.” 

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