Opposition to L.T.C. overhaul drives Siumu candidate

A burning passion to protect Samoa from what he views as an unconstitutional overhaul of the nation’s judiciary has motivated Atuatasi Katifa Tu'u'u Faletoese-Bryce to contest next year’s election. 

She will be running under the flag of the new Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party.

Atuatasi said she was unhappy with the way a Special Parliamentary Committee gathering feedback on the bills proposing changes to the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) represented the views of her village. 

Despite some of the villagers' rejection of the bills, Siumu was canvassed to be in full support of the bills when that was not true, she said.

"I believe that the three bills will have an adverse impact on Samoa," said Atuatasi. 

"I first look within myself, my family, and its effects, and then the constituency and Samoa as a whole, and this is what I want to advocate against as a candidate of Siumu."

The three bills in question are the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, the Lands and Titles Court Bill 2020, and the Judicature Bill 2020. Together, they will create an entirely autonomous Court which is not subject to review by the Supreme Court.    

Atuatasi is adamant that not all of Siumu is in support of these three bills.

She was also unhappy with the approach taken by the Parliamentary Committee as they went into the villages saying they should not have gone through churches.

The Parliamentary Committee, chaired by veteran Member of Parliament, Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana-Gidlow, hosted their consultations in the open village church halls throughout their consultation period.

"I'm concerned also because they should not have gone through the churches. Each village has a traditional venue (maota fono) for village [matters]. In my humble opinion, this is where these matters should have been discussed," said Atuatasi.

"This is where such delicate matters should have been voiced especially when such changes affect the lives of the nation."

And although the three bills had inspired her the urge to contest the election, Atuatasi said it was the former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa's resignation that ultimately prompted her to nominate. 

Atuatasi said Fiame's resignation gave her the confidence to pursue the seat of Siumu with the belief that it is the year for the women to stand up.

And, like Fiame, politics runs in the blood of Atuatasi. 

Her maternal grandfather was one of two representatives from Siumu in the Constitutional Convention in 1960, Mano Togamau.

And her father, Tu'u'u Faletoese is a former Speaker of the House, from 1979 to 1981, along with her paternal uncle was also in Parliament at the same time.

Atuatasi is the only woman and one of six candidates racing to the seat of Siumu, including the constituency’s incumbent Member of Parliament, Faalogo Iosefa Sopi.

She said that she had always been a big fan of the independent voices in Parliament, including La’auli Polataivao Schmidt, Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong.

But with the birth of a new political party, her decision on which political party to join was made easy.

"F.A.S.T.'s ongoing goal to collectively protect our families, nation and culture, is what I believe should always be a priority; a good chance for the nation," Atuatasi said. 

"There is only one who deserves our faith and to be made our shelter, it is God, and with that as the compass of this political party, I believe it is what's best for our nation, best for our families and best for me."

The party’s platform includes a commitment to shelve the L.T.C. bills. 

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