P.M. ridicules former Head of State

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has ridiculed the former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, saying something is wrong with him, he is old and he needs professional help.

“If he [Tui Atua] continues to speak publicly on [current] issues it will not be good for him from the public perspective," Tuilaepa said. "It’s apparent that he needs professional help to determine what is wrong with him.

“He’s retired and should remain retired, but I wonder why his speech was printed in the Samoa Observer knowing very well there is something wrong (with it).”

The Prime Minister made the comments on his media programme in response to an address given by Tui Atua at Vaiola College’s graduation where he raised concerns about the alienation of customary lands and the need for a referendum on three bills before Parliament, proposing major changes to the Courts and the Constitution.

But Tuilaepa laughed at Tui Atua, saying there is no need for a referendum. He has also rubbished claims by the former Head of State that customary land across the nation is threatened by the proposals. 

Speaking to the theme “Be Bold, be brave and make a change” Tui Atua said Vaiola’s graduation topic could not be more applicable to developments in Samoa today. 

“We face a number of critical issues, like the coronavirus pandemic and measles; damage to the environment due to climate change, technology and its challenges and others,” Tui Atua said.

“But I think that it is better to identify a focus in order to achieve clarity.  For this purpose, I have opted to concentrate on the title and ownership of customary land.”

Referring to three bills seeking to overhaul the Judiciary, Land and Titles Court and the Constitution, Tui Atua called for a popular vote. 

The three bills are scheduled to come before Parliament for debate on Tuesday. 

“The Government asserts that it has 80 per cent support of the people for the three bill amendments,” the former Head of State said. 

“If this is so, why do they find it so hard to abide by the insistence in Section 102 and Section 109 to refer the issue of customary land alienation to a referendum that must be supported by two-thirds majority of the eligible voters?”

Those remarks drew the Prime Minister’s ire. 

“It raises the question: what is a referendum?,” Tuilaepa said. 

“The only time that a referendum should be conducted is if the Government considers legalising the selling of customary lands, but there is nothing [of that sort] under the [proposed] laws; and so there will be no referendum”.

He added that someone is “advising the old man” in reference to the former Head of State.

Earlier on Tuilaepa said when he’s tasked to give a farewell speech for graduations and prize giving, he must consider the purpose for why he was selected to give the address. 

The Prime Minister said he considers three things: the next educational level which some in the audience will pursue; those who did not pass; and those who are ending their schooling to seek jobs.

“These are issues that I have to consider and prepare my statements accordingly and to encourage them to look towards the future and yet Tui Atua politicised the opportunity as the keynote address and spoke about issues that students do not understand,” the Prime Minister said. 

“[Tui Atua] spoke about the customary lands and the [controversial] three lands and title bills [pending in Parliament].

“I have already issued a challenge to the lawyers and anyone, to bring any evidence the bills will allow the sale of customary land. 

“To date, no Judge or lawyer has come forth because there is nothing. It is clear under Article 102 of the Constitution that it is forbidden to mortgage or sell any customary lands.

“And up to this day, no customary land has been sold”. 

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