Why Fiame’s decision makes sense
So there you have it Samoa. A day away from the end of the official nomination period for the 2021 General Election candidates, the most asked question about Fiame Naomi Mata’afa’s allegiance has finally been answered.
Since her resignation from Cabinet and the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), the next step for the former Deputy Prime Minister Fiame has been the subject of much debate, discussion and speculation.
These speculations heightened with the arrival of the nomination period with people guessing which way Fiame was going to go.
On one hand, there were people who suggested she was going to declare her allegiance to the new Fa’atuatua I le Atua Samoa (F.A.S.T.) party by registering for them, giving them a huge boost in terms experience and credibility.
But there were also people who didn’t think that particular theory was going to work.
Given the pressure Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi had been applying on Fiame to come clean about her connections to F.A.S.T. leader, La’auli Leuatea Schmidt and the new party, Fiame would have known better. Registering as a F.A.S.T. candidate now would have validated everything Prime Minister Tuilaepa had been saying about Fiame and F.A.S.T.
That aside, there are bigger issues at play, especially her position on the controversial L.T.C Bills, which up until now, she has constantly claimed as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Which is why her decision to register as an independent candidate ahead of next year’s election is hardly surprising and makes a lot of sense.
So in response to growing speculations about her next step, Fiame issued a statement on Tuesday night which reflected her vision, sound mind and clarity of thought.
“I decided to register as an Independent for the major reason to protect my constituency’s seat and for me to continue to serve as my constituency’s voice in Parliament until the end of the Parliamentary term,” she said.
“Last month, I resigned from Cabinet as I could not support the 3 Bills currently processing through Parliament as it is my view that they will destabilize our country’s justice system, undermine the rule of law and these legislations will have serious consequences for us all.
“It is my wish to make a meaningful contribution when the 3 Bills are debated in Parliament for the final third readings and until Parliament is dissolved in January 2021.”
Now this is what separates Fiame from the rest. Instead of getting caught up with the emotions and the personalities, she has stuck to the issues and has determined what is best for the country. She had obviously done her homework especially into the implications of her decision on the L.T.C. Bills and what it could mean when the Special Parliamentary Committee tables their report for discussion and the third reading next month.
Two other Members of Parliament who have already declared their allegiance to F.A.S.T., Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong, could well be forced to vacate their seats any day now. It means the small voice in Parliament to argue against an all-powerful H.R.P.P. majority would become even smaller.
Which is not what the country needs when it comes to the crusade against the L.T.C. bills. We accept that for Fiame, La’auli and everyone fighting against the bills that it’s an uphill battle.
But this is why strategic thinking and careful maneuvering is needed so that the small voice of reason is strengthened instead of diminishing.
When it comes to these L.T.C bills, there is a lot at stake. We are talking about measina including lands, titles, families, language, fundamental rights and freedoms, Constitutional rights, concept of separation of powers and a lot, lot more. These are bigger than Tuilaepa, the government, Fiame, F.A.S.T. or anyone else.
In declaring that she is an independent candidate, Fiame has set a wonderful example about placing the issues first and foremost before her own personal interest and glory. Many people would love her if she declared her allegiance with F.A.S.T. now but many more would respect her for staying the course and keeping her focus on what matters. It’s something other political parties and politicians should emulate.
Now does that mean she will not join F.A.S.T. in the future?
“I have also informed my constituency that I do endorse the Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi – F.A.S.T. Party and what it stands for,” she said. “My constituency has expressed its support for my position.”
That says a lot, doesn’t it? And Tuilaepa will no doubt pick up on it.
But we’ll just have to wait and see next April, before the new Members of Parliament take their oaths.
There are some exciting times ahead. Stay tuned!