Former Members of Parliament fight "illegal removal"

A petition has been filed before the Supreme Court to challenge what has been described as an "illegal" decision by the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole'afoa Fa'afisi, to vacate the seats of Salega East and Urban West in Parliament.

The seats were held by former Members of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong, who have pledged their allegiance to the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) for next year's General Election.

In confirming the filing of the challenge, former independent M.P. Olo said senior lawyer, Mauga Precious Chang, will argue on their behalf.

Olo maintained that the decision by the Speaker has resulted in their "illegal removal" from Parliament.

Faumuina also criticized the Office of the Legislative’s claim that they cannot be given their payoffs because Parliament has not been dissolved yet.

“They ceased our pay on November 9," said Faumuina. "We contacted them about it and they said they have ceased it because we are no longer in Parliament,” he said.

“And we told the Speaker, that if this is the case, they need to get our pay off. We called the Legislative office again today [Thursday] and they appeased with us saying we can only get it next year.”

Parliament is scheduled to dissolve on 9 January 2021.

“This means, there are things that are fast tracked while there are those which are dragged. They have fast tracked our removal for a decision that should only be effective next year, and slowed down the rest for next year,” Faumuina continued.

They also criticised the Speaker of the House saying he did not tell the whole story while declaring their seats vacant in Parliament on Tuesday.

They also clarified that their constituencies never agreed to have their Members of Parliament forcibly removed.

“This is something I want to correct regarding the Speaker’s announcement on that day,” Olo said.

Olo and Faumuina maintain their stances that they were “illegally removed” from their constituencies’ seats.

On Tuesday, Leaupepe said the two M.P.’s seats were vacated in line with Parliament’s standing orders.

“We met and they informed me officially that their decision was endorsed by their respective Constituencies,” the Speaker said.

Faumuina said in the meeting mentioned by the Speaker, he and Olo clearly articulated and submitted their letters outlining their “strong objection” over the decision.

“The process of removing us from Parliament should have been done in Parliament, and yet, when we listened in on Tuesday, it seemed like it was his own decision, and failed to mention our objection,” he said.

According to Faumuina, he and Olo were told to pick up a stamped and signed copy of their letter to the Speaker, however, weeks later, is it yet to happen.

“Now we are running after the Office of the Speaker for our stamped copies because we need them because it is a part of our petition in Court,” he said. “And the secretary tells us that she will get back to us because the Speaker has taken our file home? I don’t know why he has taken our files home, why not leave it with the other Members’ files.”

He added that the Speaker has been “dodgy” and his mind “unsettled” on what to do.

It was not possible to get a comment from the Speaker or his office before press time.

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