Laauli disputes P.M.'s H.R.P.P. treasurer claims

Gagaifomauga No. 3 Member of Parliament, Laauli Leuatea Schmidt held his ground against the Prime Minister's claims, saying he was never a treasurer for the ruling party, Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).

Laauli, the leader of the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party shouted across the floor to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, "stop lying". But Tuilaepa continued saying the whole party can attest to his claims.

The loud exchange followed an issue raised by Salega M.P. and F.A.S.T. candidate, Olo Fiti Vaai in regards to funds that are given out to political parties for development purposes.

According to Tuilaepa, the funds have long been part of the government’s process and despite “treasonous” attempts to remove H.R.P.P. from power in the 90s, then Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana continued the policy for parties, dependent on the number of members.

“There were funds to help opposition, from the time of Tupua. But then the opposition fell apart, because of internal conflicts and issues with their Leader.”

And while speaking about what H.R.P.P had done with the development funds, Tuilaepa claimed that Laauli was a former Treasurer of the ruling party.

“Our treasurer at one time, who was Laauli, said we had to erect a protective fence and I stopped it. Build it with what? He could see the money H.R.P.P. had at that time,” he said. 

“There is also a staff, but the reason I did not want to do that, is because he would have just brought his contractors,” Tuilaepa said.

Laauli interrupted saying he was not a treasurer for the H.R.P.P.

Despite advice from the Speaker to let the P.M. finish, Laauli said “[Tuilaepa] is still deceiving the public.”

Tuilaepa continued saying “this is true, I am speaking the truth, because the whole group are witnesses.”

“The party can attest to it. So Mr. Speaker, you can see the works, even the lease, we pay $8000 a year, but where is the money that were given to the others?” asked Tuilaepa.

“As soon as we give them money, they dispersed it amongst themselves. 

“So who are you speaking to? The government money was used well. But what about the rest of you who also received money? Whose pocket has the money?

“Mr. Speaker, that is the matter of fact, these monies are given out from Government to help push the political parties within this Parliament. And why; because it is the Government’s wish to see more political parties, and so that we do not rely on business owners.”

He noted that there is an impact Government decisions when political parties rely on funds raised from the business community. 

Tuilaepa then crtiticised F.A.S.T. for raising funds through church denominations’ assistance calling the move, “disrespectful.”

“What has happened now? Some church ministers have given you their money. What does that mean? If you do stand as Government, you will listen to one denomination only,” said Tuilaepa. 

“Now even the Ministers money from tithing (alofa), you have gone rudely for it too to be used in political matters.

“Oh I am shocked. I am shocked to see such things; you see, for as long as the HRPP has been established, 41 years, it has never done such a thing. Why? We respect the denominations and their leaders.

“But I’m shocked how rude you can be for you to do this. Especially, even visitors from overseas, you have disrespected in the same way. Mr. Speaker, this is very disgraceful.”

Tuilaepa then thanked Olo for raising the subject, as it has given him the chance to clarify the matter.

“Olo, you are another person who is well known for twisting words,” he said. “Come into the right path.” 

 

Laauli stood up again to clarify that he was not the treasurer at the time, saying it was Faumuina Tiatia Liuga who co-signed the HRPP bank account with Tuilaepa and Papalii Niko Lee Hang.

“What I did was do everything to equip Petesa (H.R.P.P. headquarters); that was my job. But never touched any money,” said Laauli.

Pointing to Tuilaepa across the floor, Laauli said, “You controlled the money”

Tuilaepa took the floor again saying Papalii was also questioned as to why Laauli was allowed to get a hold of the accounts.

“Every time I asked [Papalii] why he handed the bank book over to that boy, it’s caused a problem to our finances, but he told me, he had wanted to take over but the books were poorly kept, some transaction do not have receipts and explanations of money spent,” he said.

“Mr. Speaker, that’s what happened. How can you lie when the men are looking at you?”

Laauli interjected in a loud voice telling Tuilaepa not to lie to the country.

“The country is listening. Stop lying. When did I touch any money? Do not mislead the people with your lies,” Laauli said, furiously.

Tuilaepa interrupted saying, “You know what they say; the truth hurts.”

“You, standing up each time, angrily; only proves my point,” he said.

As Laauli stood up to counter the P.M.’s claims the Deputy Speaker, Nafoitoa Talaimanu Keti, announced that he will end the matter. 

“Mr. Speaker, Samoa is listening. End the matter, and then end the PM’s claims, because he is lying. When the documents are recovered to find who [was] the H.R.P.P. treasurer, it was not me,” said Laauli.

“Papalii Niko Lee Hang is the most recent and Faumuina Liuga. [Tuilaepa’s] words are wrong.”

Laauli shouted, “It’s a lie” as he sat down.

Faumuina later took the floor to confirm the Prime Minister’s claims.

“I was the treasurer for the HRPP for ten years. And in those ten years, not once were the financial reports removed,” he said.

“So when I handed in my resignation as the treasurer of the party, there was a lot of money in our accounts and reports had already been prepared.

“But I was surprised when the Prime Minister and our treasurer that was expected to replace me said that the accounts were overdrawn. And then I told them, I gave you the account with a lot of money, so I do not know who […] but there was also a time when Laauli urged me to fix our fence.

“But I told him; let us take it into the party to discuss because it will be expensive.”

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