Parliament's dignity must be restored: former M.P.
A former M.P. seeking to return to Parliament in alliance with the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party has told voters they will restore “dignity” to the nation’s Parliament.
Valasi To'omaga Tafito, who is the leader of the Samoa National Democratic Party, which is in a formal coalition arrangement with F.A.S.T. is seeking election to the seat of Vaisigano No. 2.
Valasi addressed hundreds of voters at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) at Lu'ua on Thursday evening at a F.A.S.T. roadshow.
The former M.P., who was in opposition between 1996 to 2006 lamented what he said were declining standards of behaviour in Parliament.
Valasi said Samoa's Parliament has become "a figure of fun", not only with the kind of language used in parliamentary sessions, but through Members of Parliament’s behaviour.
"Gone are the days when Samoa's Parliament was the most respected council in the country," Valasi said.
“It lacks dignity and is no longer respected and honourable.
"This is something that was raised by other matai (chiefs) in the other constituencies we already visited. The childish behavior we constantly see during parliament meetings is inappropriate."
The candidate remembered the "honourable days of Samoa's Parliament" during the term of then Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana:
"I remember vividly when Tofilau Eti Alesana was the Prime Minister of Samoa. The opposition side was very strong at the time,” he said.
"Those were very interesting times and no matter how difficult an issue was, the leaders of both the ruling party and the opposition side, there was that sense of respect amongst the members.
"That is why it was highly respected and honorable. Because the leaders and members back then knew the boundaries and had that deep knowledge and oratory instilled in them.
"The interesting part to me was that most of the Members of Parliament back then did not have high qualifications. Some never made it to the top universities, but they were very knowledgeable."
But that has changed over the years, Valasi said, who said the Legislative Assembly had now been marred by a "lack of respect and dignity".
"Respect is something that you earn, if you want to be respected, you have to respect others. If you give us your blessings and trust to lead our country, we promise that we will restore dignity and respect in the chamber,” he said.
The message from the aspiring politician received support from many constituents of Fa'asaleleaga No. 4 who were in attendance at Thursday’s rally.
One high chief from Faga, Tupa'i Folau Samoa, agreed with the sentiments expressed by Valasi that Samoa's current Parliament lacks dignity.
"I used to be a strong supporter of the ruling H.R.P.P. party," Tupa'i said.
"But I saw with my two eyes that there [was] a lot of dirty politics happening inside that party.
"What's happening now is most of the new Members of Parliament don't respect the other Members. We can tell by the way they speak and the way they behave in Parliament.
"There is a lack of respect among the Members, and that is very sad to see. I get frustrated every time I listen and watch parliament, because of the language used in Parliament.
"That's why people have lost their respect for the leaders of this country."
Tupa'i then called on the voters of Savai'i and Upolu to vote for change.