F.A.S.T. to ease candidate nomination restrictions
The Fa’atuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party plans to remove residency and monotaga (service) requirement for election candidates, arguing they are open to abuse by village officials.
A copy of the party’s election manifesto obtained by the Samoa Observer reveals the party’s plans to remove restrictions on the regime for the candidate nomination process.
Speaking to the party faithful on Friday, party founder La'auli Leuatea Schmidt said current residency requirements are being used to discourage people from standing for office.
La’auli said the party will scrap the current requirement that candidates reside in Samoa for three years prior to the election.
La’auli said that should the party win the 2021 election, “opening” these requirements will be high on their agenda.
“When something happens to families overseas, it is the duty of the paramount chief of a Samoan family to attend the family obligation (faalavelave),” La’auli said.
“And because of this travelling for family faalavelave, wedding and funerals, upon their return, they cannot run in the election. Their days in Samoa do not meet the requirement.
“Give them the chance to complete their registration if they haven’t, they cannot put that on the people, that is not the Government’s role; this is one of the laws we will repeal.
“And it leads to being given the runaround from the village mayor. Excuse the language, but it is because the village mayor and woman representative are paid by the Government.”
A three years monotaga (or service) requirement to the village in which the candidate is standing is also in the party’s sights for liberalisation.
After more than 200 people signed up to stand for election last month, some 20 petitions have been launched about the eligibility of candidates, many centred on whether candidates have fulfilled monotaga requirements.
During the election process, some candidates complained that they were being refused to be endorsed by local village mayors for, they alleged, political reasons.
A F.A.S.T. a campaign rally held last week on Friday drew hundreds of the party’s supporters to the E.F.K.S. Hall.
Under the eligibility requirements for a candidate to run in General Elections is outlined in the Electoral Act 2019, which includes being a citizen of Samoa, a registered voter of a constituency, and a registered matai title for the Constituency the person intends to represent.
The potential candidate should have also rendered a monotaga within a village in a constituency intended to run as a candidate for three consecutive years and has resided in Samoa for a minimum of three years.
At the event La’auli promised to allow Samoans overseas to cast ballots in General Elections, saying it is their right given their large contribution into the economy through remittances each year.
“The truth is, the might of God’s love is shown through the money they send every day, every week, every month and every year,” he said.
“$600 million is their contribution into this economy yearly and yet the Government says they are people who have wandered too much (tafao vale) and doing nothing (ka’a),” he said.
Speaking to overseas Samoans, La’auli assured them that their contribution will not go unnoticed as the F.A.S.T. will push to recognize their rights to vote for the leaders of Samoa, should they win the 2021 General Election.
“The money they send weekly is never below $10 million, and then we see, where does it go?,” he said.”
“This is the money that goes into raising families, developing churches and our Government. And who is benefiting from this?”
This comes after the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi assured that the Government will not entertain absentee voting for overseas-based Samoans.
In October, speaking on his weekly radio programme on 2AP, Tuilaepa also ruled out introducing overseas ballots for citizens residing abroad in the future.
F.A.S.T. leader La'auli also announced the party intends to scrap the law that enables the Office of the Electoral Commission to slap eligible voters who failed to register with $2000.
F.A.S.T. launched in July this year, and has garnered 48 candidates registered to run under their flag, plus 6 members running as independent candidates.