Olo accuses Electoral Office of being "unfair"
A former independent Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, has accused the Office of the Electoral Commissioner of making what he described as "unfair" decisions about candidates’ eligibility, particularly concerning their Police records.
Olo also accused the Office of turning a blind eye to candidates who have been convicted of crimes while it was very quick to write to the Speaker after he and fellow independent M.P., Faumuina Wayne Fong, registered to run for the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party.
That resulted in the M.P.s’ Parliamentary seats being vacated under anti-party switching laws.
"It is very unfair to see other representatives with criminal offences, severe ones, remain in their seats in Parliament as the Office of the Electoral Commissioner looks on and does nothing," said Olo, who was recently made the deputy leader of F.A.S.T.
"All these things should have been looked into by [the] Commissioner, and [reported] to the Speaker."
A comment was sought from the Faimalomatumua but a reply was not received by press time on Monday.
But Olo pointed to the Associate Minister of Finance, Mulipola Laki Leiataua. He questioned how he was able to contest the 2016 General Election when he had a conviction for a traffic offence and was allowed to remain in Parliament.
Faimalomatumua was only appointed to the position of Electoral Commissioner in August 2016. The 2016 election and nomination process was held in April.
"What makes me most sad about the Commissioner's decisions is that they are allowing a convicted person to sit in Parliament and yet they have taken us out, and we have not committed an offence," he said.
"That's embarrassing for him due to his unfair decisions being made. His decisions are biased. When it comes to the H.R.P.P. [Human Rights Protection Party], he doesn't do anything, but when it comes to us, he makes quick decisions."
Olo claimed laws are made to target those who are not H.R.P.P. Members of Parliament.
"What needs to be done is that the Electoral Commissioner and the Speaker of the House need to make a decision regarding these Members of Parliament who are implicated in these cases," he alleged.
"They need to be removed from Parliament. Not only are they not registering for the next election, but their convictions also speak for themselves."
Olo also called for all the Government funds spent on their salaries to be recovered from the first paycheques.
"These are the official ways and the proper way of doing things. All decisions need to be fair across all Members," he said.
"Or is it because they only want those who have been convicted to sit in Parliament?"
A "minor" traffic offence conviction in 2013, for which H.R.P.P. candidate I’a Sa’u Kaisara says he was fined $400 for driving into a hedge without causing any injuries resulted in his nomination for the Lefaga and Faleaseela seat being rejected.
Other M.P.s who have served in Parliament before Faimalomatumua’s appointment include parliamentarians with records for theft and even murder committed overseas.
A total of 20 petitions have been launched against the nomination of candidates since more than 200 were announced to have successfully passed the nomination process finished last month.
Some candidates whose eligibility is being challenged have been contacted by the Samoa Observer and asked if their Police records had incidents not detected earlier in the nomination process. All have declined to comment.
Similarly, the Ministry of Police has been criticised for not updating their records being submitted to the Electoral Office for the Commissioner's decision.
Attempts to get a comment from Mulipola Laki, who is not on the list of candidates for next year's election, was unsuccessful.