Faumuina and Olo legal challenge yet to be filed

Faumuina Wayne Fong and Olo Fiti Vaai are yet to file their legal challenge against the Speaker's decision to vacate their seat, Faumuina confirmed.

According to the pair, they have received a total of three letters from the Speaker of the House and the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.

The first letter from the Speaker, Toleafoa Faafisi Leaupepe, notified them that their seats have been made vacant following their registration under the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T) party.

The second letter from the Legislative Clerk, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, invited Olo and Faumuina to the next Parliamentary sitting scheduled for 17 November 2020.

On Thursday morning, they received another letter from the Clerk, stated that he has decided to accept the decision by the Speaker of the House and notified them that they cannot participate in the upcoming Parliamentary proceedings.

Speaking during their weekly EFKS TV programme on Thursday, Faumuina said the Office of the Legislative Assembly are not following proper processes to remove a Member of Parliament, when they commit an offense.

Faumuina compared their case to two other Members of Parliament who are Associate Ministers and are still sitting in their seats despite being convicted felons.

"These two have been charged and convicted under the law in court, yet they still sit in Parliament. Two of them are Associate Ministers and we're now waiting for when the Electoral Commissioner to write to the Speaker of the House notifying him of these matters," he said.

"They have also breached Standing Orders; if one is proven guilty of a crime involving jail time, they need to be taken out. [The Legislative Assembly have now taken us out, while we have not been convicted of anything].

"In another sense, it is right they are in there because the matter should be raised in Parliament so charged can be made and then referred to the Court."

Faumuina also noted that if their F.A.S.T. registration for the 2021 General Election is now in effect, then the lack of registration from other Members of Parliament not running in the upcoming election should also take effect.

"They have not pledged to a party, not pledged to run in the election and still sitting in there, when the law has taken effect. Come out along with us and cease your salary payments," he said.

"Come out and we will come to the field beyond the Fono House, so we can straighten out this process. They are taking the rushed road."

Faumuina did not name the two Associate Ministers he was referring to, but held up the confirmation of his 2015 traffic offense conviction for one of them, saying it "affected a life" as shown by court documents.

"This was from 2015, he should be in jail, but he is in the Parliament and taking work contracts," he said.

Tiatia did not respond to questions from the Samoa Observer about the matter. But he was quoted by the State-owned Savali newspaper stating that the Speaker’s ruling was based on a breach of Standing Orders and other related legislations by the two Members of Parliament.

Olo, who was the M.P. for Salega East and Faumuina for Urban West seat, were recently served with an order from the Speaker that declared their seats vacant.

Tiatia claimed the same ruling was also applied to former M.Ps such as Vaai Papu Solia, Palusalue Fa’apo II and Associate Minister Lealailepule Rimoni Aiagi in the 2006 – 2011 Parliamentary term. 

He said the members had their seats vacated and were returned through a by-election in 2010 when they declared candidacy nominations for the Tautua Samoa party in 2011 General Election. 

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