‘They’re barking up wrong tree’

Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has rubbished claims from former Cabinet Minister, Le Tagaloa Dr. Pita Alailima about the government abusing its powers.

The Tautua Samoa Party candidate whose candidacy has since been disqualified by the Supreme Court had accused the government of behaving like a dictatorship. 

Referring to Remuneration Act 2003, Le Tagaloa said the government’s decision to continue to pay the salaries of the Associate Ministers after Parliament has been dissolved is illegal.

But Tuilaepa disagrees.

“There’s a well known legal principle that goes, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”,” the Prime Minister responded during an interview with the government-owned Savali Newspaper.

“In other words, it’s obvious Le Tagaloa is singing a tune he knows nothing about.  But his ignorance doesn’t mean we should allow him to make a fool of himself.  So the merciful thing to do is to bring him, and anyone else who might be lost, out of the darkness and in to the light.”

According to the Prime Minister, Le Tagaloa’s reference to the Remuneration Act 2003 is silly.

“I don’t know who’s giving him legal advice, but I can tell you that this is just plain wrong,” he said. “The Constitutional mandate for government to continue after the dissolution of Parliament, albeit in a caretaker capacity, can be found under Article 33(1).  

“As the Executive Government, Cabinet Ministers are bound to continue in their duties based on Article 33(3)(a), while Associate Ministers are expected to continue in their roles under Section 3 of the Parliamentary Undersecretary Act 1988. 

“The only difference I can see in being a caretaker government, is that Cabinet’s to-do list is a tiny bit lighter seeing as we cannot enact Acts of Parliament except to facilitate minor policies and subsidiary legislations.  So this is why I have extra time to correct Le Tagaloa and brush up on my Constitutional reading.”

Tuilaepa referred to Le Tagaloa as a ‘has been’ who no longer has the support of his constituents.

“His own constituents are fed up with his kind of leadership,” he said.

“The supporting role of Associate Ministers is central to ensuring each Cabinet Minister continues to fulfil his or her duties.  This is clearly provided for and legislated in the Parliamentary Undersecretary Act 1988. 

It seems to me that this a simple issue, and the only reason it’s a problem for Le Tagaloa is because he is overcomplicating it.

“It’s indicative in his comments that he has no idea what he’s talking about.  He’s not a lawyer.  Perhaps if he was, he would know better than to comment on these political events.” 

Le Tagaloa, according to Tuilaepa, was a Member of Parliament who was well known for shooting from the hip.  

“There is a saying that once you are a hip shooter, you remain a hip shooter for the rest of your life.”

The Prime Minister also touched on the allegations from the Tautua Samoa Party involving the former Minister of Finance. 

“Like the issue of remuneration and so many others, they are barking up the wrong tree. The issue of collective responsibility relates to decision-making in Cabinet. 

“What they pointed out, to put it simply, was extremely stupid and not in accordance with the Constitution.  Even the procedures of law were completely ignored. 

“The Courts saw through the Opposition’s ruse and granted Government’s strikeout motion.   The bush lawyer who enacted the action should have known that the kind of action they tried to bring against government was a waste of time and wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.”

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