Samoa Observer

Resigning "never" an option, says suspended M.P.s

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Resigning "never" an option, says suspended M.P.s

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 20 October 2022, 10:10AM

Suspended parliamentarian Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi is considering his options, including heading back to the Court, but resigning from office is out of the question.

Holding a media conference on Wednesday, a day after Samoa’s Legislative Assembly suspended him and Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) secretary Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi for two years, the former prime minister said going back to the Supreme Court cannot be ruled out and despite their absence from the floor they will continue to scrutinise the Government.

"We may be out (from parliament) but it will not stop us from fighting for what is right," Tuilaepa said. 

"This will not detain us from speaking up and carrying out our duties as Opposition Members and we will continue to question and express our views on decisions made by the ruling government."

When asked if they will resign from office due to their 24-months absence from the House, the suspended Lepa MP replied with a flat “no”.

"Why would we resign? If we resign it will make it look like we did something wrong and we are admitting it. 

“But we know we did not do anything wrong and we will not resign."

Tuilaepa said he and his party colleague M.P. will "leave it to God and will continue to pray for God's provision of strength and knowledge.”  

"It's unfortunate that we have been deprived from doing our jobs as Members of Parliament being the voices of our people in parliament. 

"Our constituencies will not have a voice in parliament for two years and we will not get paid in two years. 

The six-month suspension they placed on us before wasn't enough for them, they had to add more time and extend our suspension but that will not stop us."

Tuilaepa is of the view that having them banned from the parliament was a "strategy" orchestrated by the Government from the start.

"From the beginning since they took over, that's what they have been trying to do...have us removed from parliament,” the suspended veteran politician said. 

“Starting from the time when they refused to have us sworn-in until now, they have tried everything to make sure that we will not sit in parliament and question the decisions and legislations they come up with."

Speaking about the speeches in parliament before the Legislative Assembly went through an unprecedented secret ballot to decide the fate of the two members on Tuesday night, Tuilaepa said he didn’t like the remarks made by speakers from the Government bench. 

"The comments were harsh as if me and Lealailepule had committed a serious crime," he said.

"They wanted us to go down on our knees and apologise to them and show them that we are sorry for what he had done. 

“Why would we apologise when we did not do anything wrong? We only apologise to God which is what we had done, but never to them. 

“That's what they wanted us to do and they expected us to kneel and bow down to them then they would forgive us. 

"But I did not want them to have pity on us and forgive us because of that. We don't want their pity and their sympathy. 

“What we want is for them to do the right thing, uphold the rule of law they keep making reference to and follow parliament's Standing Orders. 

"I want to be accepted back because what we are fighting for is righteous, not because of love and pity."

Tuilaepa also added that the suspension the House has slapped on himself and Lealailepule will not affect how they carry out their duties as elected members of parliament. 

"Yes we will not have a voice in parliament and we will not be paid, but we will still do our job and serve our people, we will keep fighting for what is right."

The secret ballot held in the parliament on Tuesday was Tuilaepa and Lealailepule’s last hope to overthrow the recommendation by the parliament's Privileges and Ethics Committee for their suspension on Tuesday evening. At the conclusion of the session on Tuesday, a majority 29 Members of Parliament voted for the Opposition Leader and his party secretary to be suspended until October 2024.

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 20 October 2022, 10:10AM
Samoa Observer

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