La’auli stands his ground

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i 04 February 2019, 12:00AM

The former Speaker of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polata’ivao, is standing his ground against moves being made to remove him from the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).

“I did not resign and I will not resign,” he said. “I stand by my Constitutional rights and I will not deviate from that knowing this is the right thing to do.” 

The Gagaifomauga No. 3 Member of Parliament made his position known during a press conference at the Maota o Samoa yesterday. 

It was the first time he has responded since Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi announced that he had taken La’auli’s vote against Government’s Electoral Constituencies Bill last week as his resignation from the party.

Tuilaepa said he had written to La’auli but would not say whether he has terminated La’auli’s membership in the H.R.P.P.

Yesterday, La’auli confirmed that he had received the letter from the Prime Minister and he would respond to Tuilaepa accordingly.

But he expressed disappointment in the way things have unfolded, describing the move to force his resignation as the way of a “one-man authority.”  

 “I am a servant of Gagaifoimauga No. 3 and I was elected by my constituency,” Laauli said. “I voted against the Government’s Electoral Constituencies Bill in Parliament mainly due to the fact that my District will be greatly affected by this bill.” 

La’auli made it clear that he will not resign. 

“I was elected by my District with the directive that I serve in the H.R.P.P. Our constituency is a founding member of the political party.” 

Asked to comment on claims by Tuilaepa that he has violated H.R.P.P. bylaws, La’auli said as a Member of Parliament, he has rights to vote where he feels best represent the interests of his constituency.

 “I have been a Speaker of the House for more than ten years and under the Constitution of Samoa, one must obey his constituency. I feel for my District and I will not go against their wishes. 

“And with all due respect to the bylaws of the H.R.P.P., it has its limitation and that is within the party.” 

He said the bylaws might have been applicable in the past when there was an official opposition party. But at the moment, there is none which means all H.R.P.P. members who are not part of Cabinet are unofficially opposition M.P.s.

“I will always vote against any bill that will affect the rights of my constituents; their safety and their prosperity, I will not sit idle, I will stand to protect those who voted for me, the same people who founded the H.R.P.P.,” said La’auli. 

The M.P. reiterated that bylaws of any political party has its limitations.

“However once you are in the Chamber of Parliament one must utilize common sense when addressing your views as a member of the H.R.P.P. You can’t let go of the fact that you are once and for all a member of the H.R.P.P.

“I have voted against bills in the past and that has not changed my status as a member of H.R.P.P.” 

Asked whether the handling of his case is democracy as preached by the H.R.P.P., Laauli said: “That is my view, we sing about democracy…. well you be the judge of what has happened. 

Pressed if this was not “dictatorship” in his view, he said: “That is quite a strong word but I will say this is a one-man authority (pule to’atasi).”

As of now, La’auli maintains he did the right.

“I am more concerned about the rights of my people,” he said. 

 “I am the fifth M.P. from my district that has pledged service to the H.R.P.P. and it has not been easy, being a founding member of the H.R.P.P. 

“But when there are issues that need to be addressed, I am obligated to point out these loop holes.

“What I did was a true testament of exercising my rights as a Member of Parliament.”

It was not possible to get a comment from Prime Minister Tuilaepa yesterday.

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i 04 February 2019, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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