Let’s embrace spirit of Christmas, Speaker welcomes Olo and Faumuina
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi, has welcomed back to Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong, calling on all Members of Parliament to embrace forgiveness and the spirit of Christmas.
Olo, the M.P. for Salega East and Faumuina, the M.P. for Urban West, returned to the Maota Fono at Ti’afau on Tuesday morning after the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the Speaker to declare their seats vacant.
Speaking in Parliament on a rainy morning when proceedings started late, Leaupepe greeted the Members and extended them a warm welcome back to the chamber.
He acknowledged the decision by the Supreme Court, which he said is an important pillar of the branches of a democratic system.
Speaker Leaupepe said there were obviously different interpretations of the law in relation to what had transpired during the past three weeks but it was something he was not keen to discuss.
He insisted however that his decision was to protect the integrity of Parliament in accordance with Standing Orders.
Nonetheless, he noted that it was more important to move forward.
“Only God knows the truth,” he said, noting that it’s Christmas and it’s the season to forgive and embrace each other.
“Let us embrace the spirit of Christmas, forgive and move forward,” Leaupepe said.
He did not allow any comments from the floor about the matter.
He then ordered the House to proceed with day’s Order paper starting with the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, tabling the Supplementary Budget.
On Monday, the acting Chief Justice, Her Honour Niava Mata Tuatagaloa, Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke and Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala – Warren ruled that the Speaker’s decision to remove Olo and Faumuina was invalid and unlawful.
“The first respondent’s motion to declare the applicants seats vacated is declined for the reasons given,” the Supreme Court ruling said.
Speaking outside of the Court house, Olo said the Speaker's decision was unlawful and it is the reason they challenged it in Court.
“The law is very clear that it is the Speaker’s responsibility to refer the matter to Court if there are objection from the members,” Olo said.
“If we had not brought the matter to the Court, the country would be in the dark about the legality of this matter. What this has shown is that they are not abiding by the laws especially the Speaker of the House.”
Faumuina on the other hand was a grateful man.
“The outcome is not something to brag about, it is the decision from above (God),” he said. “Maybe at a later time [will make comment] but for now we accepted the decision.”
The Members were removed over their decision to register for the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party for next year's General Election.