New laws demand inquiry, S.I.S. leader says

The leader of the Sovereign Independent Samoa (S.I.S.) party, Fesolai Logomalieimatagi Tepa-Toloa, has accused Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi of playing “hide and seek” and called for an inquiry following Parliament’s passing of the Land and Titles Court Bills.

Making reference to her challenge to the Prime Minister for a public debate on the L.T.C. Bills, which Tuilaepa did not take up, Fesolai said his views on the recently enacted laws were biased and he continued to evade scrutiny.

"Every time the Prime Minister speaks about the bills they are one-sided, it's like hide and seek," she said. 

"After he says that then the Samoa Law Society comes on to voice concerns, just like hide and seek," she said.

"This is why I wanted this debate to happen so he can look at us while we express our concerns, a chance to see eye to eye and to also refer to these bills, now laws. We need to continuously refer to the bills, because every time they speak, it's all opinions, not facts."

Fesola'i said she was saddened with the Parliament’s passing of the three bills, although there is still a light at the end of the tunnel, she claims.

"I have hope that there needs to be a Commission of inquiry to investigate everything the country and the lawyers have expressed their concerns over, and everything I have been talking about," she said. "Because what we are portraying aren't picked from thin air, they come from these laws and there are so many changes introduced by these laws that warrants its withdrawal."

The suite of bills – the Judicature bill 2020, Lands and Titles Bill 2020 and Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020 – were passed by the Parliament on Tuesday when 46 Members of Parliament voted in favour of the three bills.

 Fesolai believes the enacting of the controversial laws will have a “boomerang effect” on the country. 

"These should have been shelved but it is what they wanted to happen," she said. "And like many things that are done untruthfully, it has a boomerang effect, it will come back. So the hope right now is for a commission of inquiry to happen, and for the Prime Minister to step down while it takes its course."

Exclaiming that she does not believe a single word the Government continues to utter about the L.T.C. bills not alienating Samoa's customary lands, Fesolai claims that the worst part of the Government's defense is that the Attorney General is standing firm with the same belief.

"That's the worst thing for a lawyer is knowing that what she is endorsing is wrong and yet still stands by it," she added.

“Because once our sense of right from wrong is overridden, we are no better than animals. We do not know what must be done as humans."

Fesola'i believes that the Special Parliamentary Committee’s consultation report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday only reflects the lack of knowledge amongst the people, in relation to the changes brought forth by the three pieces of legislation.

"Beyond these laws, the people are greatly affected," she said.

The S.I.S. leader further claimed that the enacted laws are a stepping stone to Samoa's customary lands becoming alienated and getting turned into freehold land, on top of the stewardship of lands usually under village chiefs and councils being turned over to the Government. 

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