A serious Constitutional crisis in our country. Part III
By Nanai Malonuu Lealaiauloto Nofoaiga
As previously disclosed in the second part of this conversation, there are four steps of the small investigation that I have taken about the serious Constitutional crisis in our country.
We have gone through step one, two and three in the second part of this conversation.
So there is one more left to be covered which is Step 4. Wrapping up of the small investigation that I have taken with Step 4 is also an accomplishment of transparency and accountability. In other words, freedom of speech is transparency and accountability.
That is the proof of accusations that I have made on the Media against our government regarding the Cabinet Handbook 2011. Enabling freedom of speech on the Media can always deliver transparency and accountability for protection of both government and our country.
So my last deliverance upon transparency and accountability through Step 4 to wrap up this conversation is about “Cabinet contradictions and Parliament contradictions.”
According to what I discovered in step 4, there are so many mixed layers of contradictions in Cabinet and in Parliament linking up to each other.
And because of that situation, I have found it very hard to split and reallocate lots of different cases of contradictions so that they can be reduced and combined into small specific cases in order to make things easily to understand.
I was able to put together four specific cases and they are Inconsistencies in enforcement of the laws, Contradiction between Standing Orders for Parliament and Cabinet Handbook 2011, Unfair treatment of public criticisms / public complaints / public opinions and Unfair judgment about our freedom.
1. Inconsistencies in enforcement of the laws.
It is understandable that all the people of Samoa are required by the Supreme law (Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa) to follow the rules of law starting from the Supreme law. As it stands right now, there are three main laws in Parliament outfitted with specific different processes about how the Parliament follows the rules of law. Firstly is “Standing Orders for Parliament.” Secondly is “Legislative Assembly Powers and Privileges Ordinance 1960” and the last one is “Cabinet Handbook 2011.”
According to the Government Structure 1.4 in the Cabinet Handbook 2011, the “enforcement” of the laws of Samoa is a responsibility of the Prime Minister and Ministers of Cabinet. Government Structure 1.4 – “The Executive comprises the Head of State and the executive Government of which the Prime Minister is head, supported by Cabinet of Ministers. The executive Government is responsible for the day to day management of the State, including the enforcement of the laws of Samoa.”
The “Legislative Assembly Powers and Privileges Ordinance 1960” regulate powers and privileges of Members of Parliament. So there is a limit of powers and privileges for Members of Parliament. The Members of Parliament cannot expand their powers and privileges beyond measures set by the law. Apart from that, this same law can show us more processes about observance and enforcement of the law by Members of Parliament plus consequences for not following the processes.
The “Standing Orders for Parliament” clearly laid down in part 15, the foundation of the Code of ethics for Members of Parliament including Ministers and other Officeholders. The foundation contains Statement of Intent, guidance / standard Principles for duties and responsibilities, Special Requirements for Ministers / Other Officeholders and Sanctions. This code of ethics is a very, very important piece of solid information for current Members of Parliament as well as the people of our country who are preparing to run for Parliament in the next election.
It is very, very important because it carries the weight of our Constitution and it is the key to the real success of any led government when its leader and members always follow and enforce the Code of Parliamentary Ethics. The following are all details of the “Code of Parliamentary Ethics” for information.
STATEMENT OF INTENT
It is the personal responsibility of every Member of Parliament to maintain the highest standards of ethical behaviour to protect and maintain integrity of Parliament and to make every endeavour to uphold the principles of the Constitution.
The following principles are intended to provide guidance to, and standards against which each Member of Parliament, individually and collectively should discharge their duties and responsibilities.
(1) Loyalty to the nation and its people:
Every member shall uphold the contents of the Oath of Allegiance at all time and maintain the dignity and integrity of the Independent State of Samoa; its institutions and its people.
(2) Respect for the Law:
Every member shall uphold the laws of Samoa and safeguard the principles contained in the Constitution.
(3) Respect for all Persons:
Every member shall treat other members, the public and officials with respect and dignity, honestly, fairly; and acting with integrity at all times.
(4) Proper Exercise of Power:
Every member shall:
(a) Arrange their private affairs;
(b) Use any and all information obtained from their public office; and
(c) Exercise any influence or authority obtained from Public Office, only to advance the public interest and where any potential and actual conflict of interest arises whether in the member’s private, financial, pecuniary or any interest the member shall be required to declare that interest and take any steps to remove the conflict or withdraw from the particular process of transaction.
Special Requirements for Ministers and Other Officeholders:
Every member who holds parliamentary office of any kind is required to adhere strictly to the principles outlined above and shall not under any circumstances undertake any decision or exert influence in any form whatsoever in respect of a matter in which the member will derive personal gain or benefit.
Breaches of this Code maybe dealt with by the Privileges and Ethics Committee or as determined by Parliament.
Noticing from the code of ethics as quoted above, the Parliament has been ordered to respect the law and to make every endeavour to uphold and to safeguard the principles contained in the Constitution. The order is very clear and it is a very powerful order for Members of Parliament about our Constitution. Which means our Constitution is the highlight of the Code of Parliamentary Ethics. Apart from that, there is another special weight added on the top of that but it is for Ministers and other Officeholders.
That sounds to me, the Prime Minister and Ministers of Cabinet, they should have followed the Constitution as well as the Standing Orders for Parliament in the first place when they prepare Cabinet procedures for the Cabinet Handbook 2011. That might be the exact spot where they have made the problem worse because I believe, they were already aware about the situation of non compliance given the time frame of the existences of the L.T.R.A 2008 and Cabinet Handbook 2011.
Therefore they know what they have been doing and they know what they are going to accomplish. The readers may recall details of that situation already provided in my previous letters. Some details of that situation are covered again in the next discussion of another case about more contradictions right after this discussion about other contradictions.
So, if Members of Parliament are required to follow and enforce the law according to the “Code of Parliamentary Ethics” in the “Standing orders for Parliament” and according to the “Government Structure 1.4” in the “Cabinet Handbook 2011,” then the Prime Minister and Ministers of Cabinet, they do have an obligation of following the laws of Samoa and the enforcement of the laws of Samoa starting with themselves and from the “Supreme law,” the “Constitution of the independent State of Samoa.”
However, it appears according to the evidences as listed below of what they have accomplished and their inappropriate behaviours, the Prime Minister and Ministers of Cabinet, they themselves have failed to follow and enforce the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa.
They did that same thing with the “Standing orders for Parliament,” the “Legislative Assembly Powers and Privileges Ordinance 1960” and other laws of our country.
List of evidences: Cabinet Handbook 2011, L.T.R.A 2008, C.L.A.C 2013, New tax law to tax Church Ministers, Alienation of Customary land Bill 2017, Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018, Unpleasant incident at Court of Justice as reported on news by Samoa Observer 26 April 2018 (Minister of Justice denies removing Court files claim) The Prime Minister’s illegal and un-Constitutional attempts to abolish the declaration on the cover of the Constitution [Samoa is founded on God] as well as the declaration on the preamble which acknowledges [God’s Sovereignty, national sovereignty, the state of Samoa being an Independent nation, Christianity and Samoan customs and traditions] Suppressing of OPC reports and Financial Reports of our country and Obstruction of Justice.
When the Prime Minister and the Cabinet introduces the Bill to tax Church Ministers, the Church members from different Churches and Church Ministers of the Methodist Church and the E.F.K.S. opposed the Bill. They rejected the Bill because it is un-Constitutional.
They are following the Constitution and the Bible. The Parliament did not listen and as a result the Parliament passed the Bill into law.
The introduction of the new tax law to tax Church Ministers did not change the initial position of the E.F.K.S. Church of going against that law and they officially prove their position with a letter to the Parliament. According to the Prime Minister’s response, he said, “no one is above the law” – Samoa Observer 31 March 2018 (C.C.C.S. Church opposes the Govt.). Because of the fact that I am the other opponent of the new tax law and I am also a defender of the truth so I took the words of the Prime Minister [no one is above the law] very seriously and then wait for the right time to share about it on the Media.
To me, he should never point the finger at others using those words unless he comes up first with proper evidences to prove that the new tax law to tax Church Ministers is Constitutional and is also based on Christian principles. It is a Constitutional matter and it is also a Biblical matter. To clarify my point, everyone knows, the Prime Minister did not do the right thing of following the processes according to the law to properly process criticisms and complaints against them before the Parliament passes the Bill into law in order to confirm the real truth. It is a must for both Cabinet and Parliament to consider criticisms and complaints against them and order an inquiry accordingly to investigate the Bill, the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers.
There is more about that situation Mr. Editor. Remember the procedures in Cabinet Handbook 2011 for making of policy proposals for Bills? The information collected for policy proposals must be based on facts and truth. However they did not follow their own procedures that they have created for making of policy proposals when they collect informations for the new tax Bill to tax Church Ministers. They have rejected the Constitution, the Standing Orders for Parliament, the Bible, the Methodist Church and the E.F.K.S Church.
And that’s not all. If they put together a Bill like the new tax Bill that is not based on facts and truth intentionally, they could still be possibly got away from it because they are protected by other Cabinet procedures such as the “Collective Responsibility” and “Secrecy of proceedings.” I can tell by the look of those things, the Government has departed from the law. They go beyond the scope of their powers and privileges and expand their powers illegally and un-Constitutionally and then create un-Constitutional procedures and laws from there. That is call absolute freedom.
There are a lot of confusions Mr. Editor. So it is about problems after problems after problems after problems. They have poisoned the well that the Founding Fathers intended for us to drink from. That’s why I have said in the beginning; there are so many mixed layers of contradictions in Cabinet and in Parliament linking up to each other. Therefore the words [no one is above the law] are suitable and appropriate only for the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Parliament.
They are the ones who denied the truth by rejecting our Constitution and the commandments of God in the Bible. They did not fulfill their obligation of following the Supreme law and enforce the Supreme law upon themselves. Also, they did not follow and enforce Standing Orders for Parliament of making every endeavour to uphold and to safeguard the principles contained in the Constitution.
In addition, if the Prime Minister was serious and honest about his words of [no one is above the law] then where are the OPC reports and Financial Reports of our country? Why did they let all the people identified in those reports to get away from corruptions they have committed? That is not a power or privilege according to the law. It is obstruction of justice and it is another recipe of corruption. In order for them to serve the purpose of the laws of our country they must follow and enforce the law at the same time equally upon themselves and everyone else. Enforce the law and let Prosecutors place the criminals before the Judiciary.
Moreover, how about the new case regarding the removal of Court files from the Justice Department that involved the Minister of Justice and the C.E.O? To fulfil the obligation of enforcement of the law, the government must respond to that case immediately. So why was it taking too long for the Parliament to order an investigation? The Judges and the Attorney General should also step in and defend our Justice and the integrity of our Parliament and put all the people involved under investigation if the Parliament itself is not doing anything about it. There is no privilege here and there is no place of politics in our Justice system and our Constitution.
If Fepulea’i Attila Ropati was not in trouble at the time of the incident, Fepulea’i would have stepped up and straighten up the Minister of Justice and the C.E.O. straight away. Based on a different case of which the same Minister of Justice has involved with and he was sorted by Fepulea’i, therefore, Fepulea’i to me is the only public servant in the Public Service can stand up against politics. He understands about the difference between the law and politics. The inappropriate behaviors of the same Minister has been floating around in our Justice Department for a while now but it is unacceptable. That is not the first time so he is unfit to hold office.
According to the Cabinet Handbook 2011 (Judiciary 1.5) “The Judiciary interprets the law, ensures that the rule of law prevails and is the guardian of the Constitution as the supreme law of Samoa. The Chief Justice is the judicial and administrative head of the Judiciary.”
If that is the truth about Judiciary as in the “Judiciary 1.5” as quoted above, so how could the Prime Minister expects the Judiciary to ensure that the rule of law prevails when the Prime Minister himself and his Cabinet Ministers did not follow the laws and did not enforce the laws upon themselves? How could he let the Judiciary deals with interpretation of un-Constitutional laws that are not based on facts and truth in our Justice system? How can the Judiciary guard the Constitution when the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Parliament are all doing the opposite of their procedures to the Constitution?
Remember that all Members of Parliament are required by law; the “Standing Orders for Parliament” under the “Code of Parliamentary Ethics” to make every endeavour to uphold the principles of the Constitution and to safeguard the principles contained in the Constitution but look at the things that they have been doing to our Constitution? Look at the impact of their inappropriate actions on our Justice system?
The things that they have been doing do not show any signs of making every endeavour to uphold the principles of the Constitution or any signs of safeguarding the principles contained in the Constitution. Just signs of making every endeavour to destroy and to change the Constitution in order to meet their political interests. To be continued.