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Speaker cops criticism over Parliament tension

A former Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, has criticised the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa'afisi's handling of a heated argument in Parliament on Tuesday, which led to a near confrontation between two senior Members of Parliament.  

Olo blamed the Speaker's inability to control Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi's behaviour, which in turn lowered the standard of Parliamentary debate and could discourage future politicians.

The former Member of Parliament for Salega East made the comments after the Prime Minister Tuilaepa's heated exchange in Parliament with Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party leader, Laauli Polataivao Schmidt.

"Such behaviour isn't a good example for the children of Samoa as it may also be an intimidation for the potential and upcoming Parliamentarians who wish to enter Parliament," said Olo.

He said in his 15 years in Parliament, it appears that Speaker is losing control of Parliament.

"This has never happened before. The previous Speaker of the House, we could not tell whether he was nervous about his decisions or not, unlike right now; excuse me, your honour, Speaker of the House, but there are those who observe," Olo said during a weekly programme on EFKS TV2.

"Right now, before the Speaker makes a decision, he firstly looks at the Leader of the House, and when the Speaker of the House does not make a decision, the Leader would stand to tell the Speaker to make one.

"As you, all saw [on Tuesday], the Leader of the House was commanding his honour, the Speaker of the House. It is inappropriate behaviour."

Olo, along with former Member of Parliament for Urban West, Faumuina Wayne Fong, were not present in the most recent Parliamentary sitting that resulted in the shouting clash.

The two former M.P.s were removed from their after falling foul of anti-party switching laws when they announced their intent to contest the next election for F.A.S.T. The two are challenging the decision before the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, they have called upon the Speaker of the House to step down and stop allowing Tuilaepa to be the Leader of the House and to control the Speaker.

Faumuina said maybe it is because Tuilaepa knows that Toleafoa has been feeling under the weather that has led him to treat him in the manner in which he does. 

Faumuina said that as the Leader of the House the Prime Minister should not be able to exert control over the Speaker of the House.

The Leader of the House is the leader of the party in Government. 

It was not possible to get a comment from Speaker Leaupepe at press time.

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