The Human Rights Protection Party's undoing

It was only a matter of time before the complicity of the Human Rights Protection Party in Samoa’s two-months-running constitutional crisis was exposed.

And it had to take a former Cabinet Minister in a previous H.R.P.P. Government to unpack all that is wrong today with one of Samoa’s oldest political parties, and its failure to get its leader and caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi to act in accordance with Samoa’s Constitution and the rule of law.

Former politician Va’ai Papu Vailupe – who was a Cabinet Minister between 1995 and 2001 and is the son of former Prime Minister the late Va’ai Kolone – told the Samoa Observer in a story entitled “H.R.P.P. reputation ruined: former Minister” in the 13 June 2021 edition of the Sunday Samoan that the party his father helped co-found had tarnished its reputation by refusing to accept the 9 April 2021 general election results.

“You see, the good name and reputation of the H.R.P.P. has been damaged because of their actions and what they’re doing,” he said.

“They’ve completely destroyed the solid foundation of the H.R.P.P. and their values. 

“Most of those who are inside the party now, don’t feel any love towards the party as they are there for their own benefit.

“They do not care about the damage their actions have done not only to the party but also to the people of Samoa.

“Their childish and foolish attitudes are quite sad.”

The scathing assessment by the former H.R.P.P. Cabinet Minister confirms the earlier concerns the Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Samoa, Alapati Lui Mataeliga had about the party’s current membership.

Alapati – in a mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral at Mulivai a fortnight ago that the caretaker Prime Minister also attended – expressed his disappointment that the H.R.P.P. members are unfazed that Tuilaepa continues to be unaccountable to no one including the party.

“Quite shocking that you all know Tuilaepa does not listen to anyone but you all continue down this stupid path anyway,” said His Eminence. 

But it has become obvious in recent years that the current H.R.P.P. members don’t care about the long-term consequences of Tuilaepa’s decisions and they let him – wearing both hats as party leader and Prime Minister – run the country haphazardly, even if his decisions were detrimental to the welfare of the people.

So why hasn’t anyone within the party stood up to the country’s longest serving leader and one of the world’s longest serving Prime Ministers?

It is anyone’s guess why the 42-year-old party didn’t evolve over time to put in place ‘checks and balances’ mechanisms, which would have enabled legally registered party members to censure party leaders and even push for their removal.

And without the H.R.P.P. holding him accountable, Tuilaepa has run amok and bulldozed anti-democratic and draconian legislation that now threaten the foundations of this nation, such as the December 2020-enacted Land and Titles Laws that restructured the judiciary despite widespread public opposition.

His refusal to accept the 9 April 2021 general election results and the win of the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party, consequently throwing the nation into a two-month crisis, tragically showed how he was 'saving his best' for the last.

And the veteran politician knows that no one in the H.R.P.P. has the courage to stand up to him, despite his continued promotion of falsehoods including his various interpretations of the Courts’ judgements.

And his views continue to be cheered on by his party lieutenant and deputy, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo who appears to have created his own false reality, and declared that the current caretaker Government “is recognised under the Constitution.”

Yes, the very same Constitution that their H.R.P.P.appointed Speaker (of the last Parliament) Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi and various others breached when they locked the Parliament on 24 May 2021, in contravention of explicit Supreme Court orders for it to be opened so the XVII Legislative Assembly can convene.

So what has Fonotoe got to say about that very act on that fateful day and as a lawyer himself is he now encouraging the public to breach and trivialise Supreme Court orders if the actions of his party’s appointees are any indication?

In fact, looking at recent statements from both Tuilaepa and Fonotoe the messaging appears to be consistent: “the H.R.P.P. is following the rule of law and the Government is recognised under the Constitution.”

Shockingly, we can think of similar tactics that were used in the lead-up to and during World War II by Adolf Hitler’s Minister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who said, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as truth.”

So former H.R.P.P. Cabinet Minister Va’ai could be right after all: it is not the Human Rights Protection Party but the Human Rights Rejection Party.

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