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Party leader raring to debate P.M. on L.T.C. Bills

The leader of Sovereign Independent Samoa (S.I.S.) Political Party is raring for the public debate next week with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi at the National University of Samoa campus.

Fesola’i Logomalieimatagi Tepa-Toloa told the Samoa Observer said she is looking forward to the event, however, an NUS administration official says President and Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Alec Ekeroma is yet to confirm it. 

Mandy Skelton-Keil, who is the secretary to Professor Ekeroma, told the Samoa Observer the debate has yet to be confirmed by the university's head.

Skelton-Keil said the request is with the Vice Chancellor and awaits confirmation from Tuilaepa. 

At the centre of the debate are the suite of three bills that propose an overhaul of the Lands and Titles Court (L.T.C.), the judiciary and the Constitution.

It has been scheduled for 11am Wednesday 18 November, Fesola’i said in a S.I.S. statement sent to the Samoa Observer on Wednesday.

The S.I.S. leader, based in Falesiu, said she has written to Tuilaepa twice and he has responded to both of her letters.

“I have written to him and he has responded publicly again to say that he has received my letter and he shall be attending to the debate. I got so excited so I went to see him personally to thank him,” Fesola’i said. 

In the S.I.S. challenge letter of 14 October 2020, she said the debate is scheduled for 18 November, 2020. 

“I have organized with the N.U.S. venue as it is also educational in its nature,” added Fesola’i.

In the Prime Minister’s first letter she was advised to take her arguments to the Parliamentary Committee and that debates are “palagi stuff.”

“I have received two letters from the Prime Minister saying that I should take my arguments to the Parliamentary Committee and that debates are palagi stuff and we have our own Fa’aSamoa way. I had responded that it is his opinion and opinions are one’s own right,” said Fesola’i.

“However I pointed out to him that human rights, which is the banner that he flies, is also a foreign concept and a controversial one at that. Passing my arguments to the Parliamentary Committee of course would be after the debate so they can ponder on them.”

In the second letter, Tuilaepa encouraged the S.I.S. leader to pull through in the elections, she said.

“The second letter he sent me was that he was encouraging me to pull through in the elections. I thanked him for his concern but the battle of pulling through would not be mine but God whom I serve,” Fesola’i said.

She says it is “great privilege” to rise up and meet the challenge by the P.M. and leader of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party.

“It is a great privilege for me…it means a lot to me as this is a gap that can bring down the three proposed bills that shall drive the last nail [into the coffin] and alienate all customary land from the people of Samoa,” she said.

“The Prime Minister in his interview session in September 2020 on television states that if anyone can show him that these three bills are corrupt and harmful to the people of Samoa then not only he wants to throw it out but to also stamp (soli pala) his feet on them until these three bills are tattered, and destroyed.”

Fesola’i is against the bills and seeks to: restore the measina or values of Samoa; restore the integrity of the Constitution; return customary land to its rightful place under the faamatai system and prevent the government from committing the “great wrong to its Constitution, people and land.”

“Our people and the Law Society had gone to such great lengths in trying to curb and stop the progress of these three bills to no avail. Government has instead chosen a Parliamentary Committee to do the work of the Law Commission to propagate the Government agenda which I personally feel is so wrong,” she said. 

The presentation of the bills “were so one sided and corrupted with the giving out of money,” Fesola’i claims.

She said a formal agreement outlining the terms of the debate has been drafted. The agreement has been signed by Fesola’i and one witness. It requires the signatures of Tuilaepa and Attorney General Savalenoa Mareva Betham Annandale.

The agreement stipulates that if the Prime Minister wins by points or by default (in the event of a no-show by Fesola’i), “the three bills shall be awarded to him without any more intervention from S.I.S.."

If S.I.S. wins, by points or by default (in the event Tuilaepa is a no-show), the bills shall be shelved forever and the P.M. must pay Fesola’i ST$200,000. 

“I had advised that I would understand if the A.G. assists the P.M. and would either sit [or] stand next to him during the debate. If in the event I lose – at least I tried, for it is better to try and fail instead of never trying,” said Fesola’i. 

It is not clear where the debate will be held at the N.U.S. campus and who will moderate the event.

The media has been invited to cover the debate.

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