Village disappointed with how M.P. voted

The Falealupo village spokesperson and high chief has expressed disappointment that their Member of Parliament did not vote against the three Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) bills.

Early this year the village of Falealupo made a submission to the Special Parliamentary Committee indicating their objection to the Judicature Bill 2020, Lands and Titles Bill 2020, and the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020 which were passed into law by the Parliament on Tuesday.

The village’s M.P. A'e'au Peniamina Le'avai voted in favour of the three bills, which has not gone down well with the village’s spokesperson and high chief Fuiono Tenina Crichton. 

Fuiono said they are disappointed due to the fact that the village’s representative has always been in the opposition and not the Government, and the village had decided to oppose the changes proposed by the suit of legislation.

"We just found out this morning (Thursday) that our tofi (representative) did not vote against the changes," Fuiono told the Samoa Observer. 

"First of all, Falealupo has always been on the opposition side of the Government. It's sad to hear and see that the three bills have been passed by the Government. 

"We cannot do much about it now, because what's done is done. What's sad to me is the realisation that our Member of Parliament, A'eau Peniamina Le'avai, did not stand up and vote against the bills.

"Only four Members of Parliament voted against these bills, but he is aware that our constituency rejected the bills. 

"He knows that we (Falealupo) had met after so many times to discuss the bills and we came to the conclusion to stand together and object to the changes proposed by the bills. He is our voice in Parliament.

"To think that he neglected our voice makes me sad."

When contacted for comment by the Samoa Observer, A'eau scoffed at the comments made by the village's spokesperson and high chief.

"That is his own opinion," A'eau said. "That's not the opinion of the whole village and constituency. That's what Fuiono and a few matai believe in because they don't understand the changes."

The veteran M.P. did not want to go into detail on why he voted for the changes despite the position taken by his village. 

And he emphasised that he has a fair understanding of the legislation that was passed on Tuesday and his decision to vote for the bills represents the voice and opinion of the majority of Falealupo.

"I am the official member of parliament, and my opinion is valid in Parliament,” he added.

And for the record the position of the village on the recently enacted laws is unlikely to change, even after A'e'au has thrown his support behind them.

"Just because he (A'e'au) did not vote against the bills, does not mean we now support these acts," Fuiono added.

"We are still against those changes. That's not going to change just because our M.P. failed to deliver our constituency's opinion. 

"As I told you before, our objection to the changes derives from our concern and love for our younger generations. The changes proposed by the new law is a threat to our customary lands. The changes were not needed in the first place.

"And as I mentioned earlier, once this village and constituency come up with a decision, nothing and no one can change it.

"That decision was not easy to make. It was made up after the village and constituency met a few times, it was a decision that was not made in one night."

Furthermore, Fuiono said A'e'au could have supported the three bills because his daughter is contesting the next election under the H.R.P.P. banner. 

"I think he didn't vote against the bills because his daughter (Leota Tima Le'avai) is running under the H.R.P.P. flag in the upcoming election. 

"This is sad because he should stand for his people, the people who voted for him."

Despite the bills’ passing, he believes there is still a chance to get the new laws annulled by the Parliament, and that is to vote for change in the Government. 

"The solution is for us to vote for change in the upcoming election. That is the best solution to this issue. 

“I strongly believe that those who do not support these changes made to our Constitution and Judiciary should vote for change. 

“If we change the government, we can forget about these changes as they threatened our culture and way of life."

Nonetheless Fuiono, who is also an election candidate from Falealupo in the 2021 election, commended veteran M.P. A'e'au for his service to the constituency for so many years.

"I feel sorry for our M.P. he's getting old and he's served our constituency for such a long time. He had done so many good things for our constituency."

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