Redrawn electoral map inspires Parliament bid

A matai (chief) from the village of Apia, Vaea Ivana Eli, says he is contesting next April's election because he feels people's voices are no longer heard by the Government. 

Vaea is particularly concerned about the recent amendments to the Electoral Act, which redefined the boundaries for many traditional constituencies, including Vaimauga. 

The candidate is no stranger to elections; he previously ran for office in 2011 under the Tautua Samoa Party. 

A founding member of the party, Vaea will be challenging the Minister of Justice Courts and Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, for the Vaimauga 4 seat. 

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, the 48-year-old father said that he would only run in the election if he has a good reason to do so. 

His reason for running in 2011 was his concern in giving the matai sao (high chief) the authority to lease customary lands. 

Recalling the past, Vaea said it bothered him because a whole generation could lose their rights and access to customary lands if its being leased for 20 to 50 years. 

“This time the voices of the people are no longer heard,” he said. “The way the country is being run is done on what our leaders want and feel but they don’t bother asking you and me of how we feel about it before they execute their plans. 

“What they feel is good they will go ahead without asking the villages of their views or any consultation.” 

An example used by Vaea is the division of new boundaries for the Vaimauga constituencies whereby the village of Apia is allocated in Vaimauga IV. 

And how the villages of Leone, Vaisigano, Ma’agao and Lelata have now been pushed under the Vaimauga III electoral constituency. 

“People living in those villages of Vaisigano, Ma’agao and Lelata are my family and sub-villages of Apia none of them will vote for me because of the division,” he said. 

“Where is the justification of the division of these boundaries. 

“Are concerns about these are not being heard…they just went ahead without asking the families and seeking villagers of how their thoughts and how this will affect them.” 

Vaea said his concerns about the electoral law and his belief that the people’s voices and concerns are not heard has motivated him to run again. 

He is the I.T. Manager of the Samoa Commercial Bank and married with five children. 

 

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