Members give Parliament until Friday to pay salaries
Two Members of Parliament, who went to Court and successfully overturned the Parliament Speaker’s decision to declare their seats vacant, could seek legal redress but this time for unpaid salaries.
The M.P. for Salega East Olo Fiti Vaai and Urban West M.P., Faumuina Wayne Fong – who returned to the Parliament in December after a successful legal challenge against the Speaker – have given the Speaker and the Legislative Assembly until Friday to pay or face more court action.
The Supreme Court ruled in December that the Speaker, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi’s motion to void the seat of the members, was in breach of the Constitution and therefore invalid and unlawful and ordered their reinstatement.
Speaker Leaupepe had moved the motion to void the seats of Olo and Faumuina following their decision to register as candidates under the Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party.
But since the decision was delivered in December the two Members of Parliament have expressed disappointment at not receiving their salaries, which ceased when their seats in the Legislative Assembly were vacated.
The M.P. for Urban West claimed that when they followed up on their back pay after the Court ruling they were told that they needed a Court order before it could be processed.
He argued that when their seats were unlawfully voided the Legislative Assembly did not present a Court order to justify the Speaker’s action.
For the two months since the motion was moved to vacate their seats, Faumuina estimated that the total back pay plus allowance he should receive totals $12,000.
“We will have to go back to Court so we can get the salary that we are entitled to but have not received,” he said. “We had thought about pardoning the costs [from the case] because we are thinking about the taxpayers but they are pushing us to really go there and file for another claim.”
According to Faumuina, the decision of the Court to reinstate them in the Parliament was well publicised and received by everyone including those in the Parliament and its administration. The Court had awarded costs of $1500 each to the two Members of Parliament to be paid by the Speaker after the proceedings.
According to Olo if they did not receive their back pay by Friday they will file a claim against the Speaker of Parliament.
This time, he said, they will seek damages for the losses incurred when their seats were wrongfully vacated as well as damages to their reputation.
In addition, the Salega East M.P. said the refusal by the Legislative Assembly to pay their salary is a clear indication that they have not accepted the decision of the Court.
“We know who is behind all of this and we only ask that you humble yourself and follow the laws of regulations,” he added. “This is the kind of dirty politics that they are playing by forcing people to pay expensive costs by going through Court rather than paying your entitlements.”
Attempts by the Samoa Observer to obtain comments from the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei were unsuccessful.