Why should the accused MP resign?

By The Editorial Board 17 February 2024, 10:00AM

Resign. That is what former Associate Minister of Police and M.P. for Salega No.1, Fepuleai Faimata Sua should do. Even if he is innocent until proven guilty, this would be a dignified and honourable step on his part to show that his constituency expects a high standard of behaviour on his part.

He should have done that when he flew to Pago Pago without a visa and wanted to force his authority in a different sovereign nation by flashing his diplomatic passport.

If he stands down and he is proven not guilty, then by all means he can return to the house through another by-election. That would be the process in any democratic country that is transparent and accountable.

The member of parliament and former associate minister became the latest person to be charged by the police in connection to allegations of conspiracy and fabrication of evidence.

He is charged with one count of fabricating evidence and one count of conspiracy to defeat the course of justice.

According to the Police Commissioner, Auapaau Logoitino Filipo, the charges are related to the case of Sam [Sua] and are a result of a complaint lodged by Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi.

Fepuleai was released on bail on the condition that he surrender his travel documents and signs at the Police Station twice a week.

He is scheduled to appear before the Court on 27 February.

The Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi or the FAST Party is the ruling party. They have a duty to the people of this country to call this member of parliament before their disciplinary committee and also refer him to the Speaker.

The Parliament should also have discussions with the former associate minister and a possibility of a disciplinary hearing. It feels that the former associate minister is not being held accountable for the trip he has made to American Samoa. He was fired from his ministerial post, but that is not enough because there is an act done here that was an abuse of power.

His district council would meet up and because of the close ties, they would surely say that they would let the court decide and then they would do something.

Members of parliaments are leaders and role models and they should set examples.

Earlier this year, a New Zealand MP resigned following multiple allegations of shoplifting. Golriz Ghahraman, of the Green Party, was alleged to have stolen three times from two clothing stores - one in Auckland and the other in Wellington.

"I have let down a lot of people and I am very sorry," she said when she stepped down. To date, no charges have been laid against her but she did the right thing.

The 42-year-old, who has not been charged with any crime, said in a statement her actions had "fallen short" of the high standards of behaviour the public expected from elected representatives.

The voters expect their leaders to have high standards of behaviour not only in New Zealand but also here.

In 2017, Australian Health Minister Sussan Ley resigned after using a taxpayer-funded trip to purchase an apartment on Queensland's Gold Coast.

"Australians are entitled to expect that politicians spend taxpayers' money carefully, ensuring at all times that their work expenditure represents an efficient, effective and ethical use of public resources," Australia’s Prime Minister back then, Malcolm Turnbull had said.

In her resignation statement, Ms. Ley maintained she had not broken any rules, "not just regarding entitlements but most importantly the ministerial code of conduct".

However, she said the saga had become a distraction for the government.

"Whilst I have attempted at all times to be meticulous with rules and standards, I accept community annoyance, even anger, with politicians' entitlements demands a response," she said.

In November 2022, a senior member of the British government announced his resignation after mounting allegations that he bullied colleagues.

Gavin Williamson announced his resignation as minister of state without portfolio in a letter posted on Twitter, four days after the Times of London published expletive-laden text messages he sent to another member of Parliament.

In 2018, Australia’s National Party MP Andrew Broad resigned from his junior frontbench role after a magazine reported allegations of inappropriate conduct during official government travel.

Also last year, Victorian state Labor MP Will Fowles resigned from the parliamentary Labor Party amid assault allegations.

The argument that will come is that this is neither Australia or New Zealand, however, this is an elected official, someone whom the people voted in. There should be standards because people deserve to have leaders of the highest standards.

The future leaders will follow the standards and examples that are set by the leaders now. 

By The Editorial Board 17 February 2024, 10:00AM
Samoa Observer

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