P.M. Tuilaepa blasts Fiame, Samoa Law Society

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has attacked his former deputy and the Samoa Law Society over the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) Bills pending in the Parliament.

Speaking on his weekly TV3 programme, Tuilaepa criticised the call by former Deputy P.M. and Member of Parliament for Lotofaga, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa for the public to vote against the Government over the L.T.C. Bills and her warning that the proposed legislative changes will be met with backlash.

He also questioned the call by the Samoa Law Society (S.L.S.) for the three bills to be withdrawn from the Parliament.

“Who are they to make demands,” asked Tuilaepa, who then described it as “rude and outright wrong.”

The Prime Minister then claimed that awareness on the bills in the rural areas by the S.L.S. made it difficult for the Special Parliamentary Committee to effect its mandate to explain the bills to the people.

“In the end, what happened was that more than 80 per cent of the public finally understood and accepted the proposed measure," he said. "But the 15 percent of the people rejecting the bill, are disputing their villages and are against it and so this means the entire country is all for the three bills.” 

He further claimed that the S.L.S. failed in its attempt to “lead people astray from the bills.” 

Last Wednesday, the S.L.S. met with the Special Parliamentary Committee for the second time and they reiterated their position on five main points.

The S.L.S. submitted that they felt that it would be extremely dangerous for the country if the Judicature Bill 2020, Lands and Titles Bill 2020 and the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020 are passed and asked for the legislation to be withdrawn. 

The issues they highlighted included the removal of the ability of people who go before the L.T.C. to enforce fundamental human rights as protected under the Constitution.

The S.L.S. also expressed concern about the removal of the L.T.C. from the supervisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as well as impact that the bills upon their enactment would have on the separation of powers as protected under the Constitution.

"The main concerns by the Law Society is that the democratic principles that are protected under the Constitution will be affected and diluted as a result of the clear passage of these three bills," said the S.L.S. President Leiataualesa Komisi Koria. 

Their appearance before the Committee last week represented the end of their work in presenting and voicing their concerns.

On his former deputy P.M., Tuilaepa said he had high hopes that Fiame would have foresight, given she had been learning from him for many years, but she was “brainwashed.” 

“[Fiame] was one step away from being the Prime Minister, she is after all one of the longest serving members of the party," he said. 

“And if anything had happened to me, she would have been given the highest respect by the party for her 20-plus years of service.”

Last week, the former deputy P.M. said the proposed changes to the L.T.C. will be met with backlash. 

“It may be after the fact but people need to be asking the questions of Government, of its motivations and why they are putting this up and why now,” Fiame said. “I want [constituents] to vote against the Government in the next election because of these bills.

“This should demonstrate to the country that their rights have been put at risk, especially with regards to lands and titles.”

Fiame said the proponents of the Bills have been playing a “culture card” to win favour with the community even though they will not elevate Samoan culture as promised. 

"The language has been very divisive and this very counter to the spirit of the Constitutional convention,” she said. “That process was about unity and bringing a country together. Why would we in 2020 unpick that and put in lines of division? That baffles me and leads me to question the motivations of these Bills.

“I think people need to recognise these bills for what they are […] they want to pull something out that will draw the country to continue to support H.R.P.P.”

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