Chair mum on inquiry

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 28 July 2016, 12:00AM

The Chairman of the Special Parliamentary Committee investigating the work of Judges of the Land and Titles Court is remaining tightlipped about the progress of the Inquiry.

When the Samoa Observer asked Member of Parliament for Vaisigano No. 1, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, for an update yesterday, he said he could not comment.

“I wish I could (speak about the progress) but my lips are sealed and my feet are locked,” Lopao’o said.

“I am not allowed to say anything about the Commission under (Parliament’s) Standing Orders and if I do I would be committing an offense.”

Lopao’o was asked about how many members of the public have expressed interest to make submissions before the Commission, which started on Monday. 

He declined to comment. 

Asked if it’s true that the Judges of the Land and Titles Court have objected to the Inquiry, he also declined.

But Lopao’o said the schedule for people making submissions is “full until the end of the month. We are working up to 10 o’clock at night to hear submissions.”

The Chairman added that the Committee would be going to Savai’i next week to hear from members of the public there.

The Committee is due to table its findings before Parliament by October this year. The Ministry of Justice is expected to respond n November before the report is discussed during the December sitting.     

Yesterday, while the Commission members may have been restricted from talking about the Inquiry, some members of the public were more than happy to share what they told the Inquiry.

Among witnesses at Tuana’imato yesterday to speak about the “pain and heartaches” of decisions made by the Land and Titles Court were descendants of the Fualau title from Lotofaga. 

Fualau Sililo Fualau together with his supporters Sauiao Atonio Fualau and Lagaia Masi Levi fronted the Commission yesterday.

Fualau Sililo claims that his father, the late Fualau Paulo, was given the title in 1951 and had passed away in 2007. 

According to Fualau decisions from certain judges of the Land and Titles Court have cut their affiliation and connection to the title that is rightfully theirs. 

“The decision from the Judges has hurt me and our descendants,” said the 68-year-old grandfather. 

“If we do not fight for it today our children will be denied their roots and identity…our forefather was bestowed the title and therefore we too have a say and rights to hold the title but it’s been taken away over bias and erroneous decisions that has changed our (family) foundation.” 

Fualau added that such “dirty decisions” have hurt his family.

“My children and their children will have nothing if we don’t do something about it…the conflicts from the Judge that did our case was quite obvious and it’s why our appeal was denied. But God has his ways and the truth will be revealed through this (Commission).”

Another matai Lagaia said attempts by the family to appeal the matter were denied by a certain Judge. 

He pointed out that testament of their “blood line connection” is held by his relatives who are still living and carrying the title and name of their forefathers. 

“I am glad that the Prime Minister has called for the Commission,” said Lagaia. 

“Our country is grieving over decisions made by the Judges that has robbed them of their roots and damaged the foundation of villages and families.”

Another group of matai who presented their submission before the Inquiry yesterday were from the village of Falefa. 

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 28 July 2016, 12:00AM

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