New political party places emphasis on freedom of speech, opinion

Samoa has a new political party: the Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.).

The President of S.N.D.P., Vui Seigafolava Masinamua, confirmed that the party has been registered, making it the fourth political party in Samoa.

The new S.N.D.P. joins the Human Rights Protection Party, the former opposition party Tautua Samoa and the Samoa First Party.

The S.N.D.P. is a recreation of the old opposition party, the Samoa National Development Party. 

Questions sent to the Electoral Commissioner were not responded to by press time. 

But Vui told the Samoa Observer the remake of the political party, with 'Development' being replaced with 'Democratic', speaks to the need for democracy in Samoa. 

Vui was a founding member of the then main opposition party in Samoa between 1988 and 2003.

The ruling H.RP.P. currently dominates the legislature and occupies 47 seats out of 50 in total.    

Vui feels that while Samoa no longer needs the 'development' the old opposition party stood for; it is now spoiling for a different kind of fight. 

“Our ancestors fought for our freedom but we no longer have that freedom of expression, freedom of speech,” said the President. 

“Once someone tries to speak up they are prosecuted. It is that democracy that our party is fighting for and a priority.” 

Asked if he was making reference to a particular case, Vui said he was speaking in general terms about the current Parliament.

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He explained in the past debates airing the opposing views of Members of Parliament on topics and issues had been edifying to listen to.

“An opinion is always an opinion and those opinions are supported by facts,” said the President. 

“But what is happening now they respond by prosecuting you. 

“In Parliament members should be free to share their opinion and question responsible Cabinet Ministers. 

“However, we have seen that the Ministers don’t respond to questions but instead the Prime Minister takes the floor and that should not be the case.” 

Vui added that Parliament appears to be controlled by a “remote” and the S.N.D.P. party wants to counter this. 

He said Parliament should answer to the people of Samoa and not the other way around. 

The S.N.D.P. is set to be officially launched next month. 

During last Parliament sitting in June, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, cautioned H.R.P.P. members against inciting criticism of government developments. 

Tuilaepa made the comments during discussion for the 2019/2020 budget. 

He had rebuked the M.P. for Apia Urban West, Faumuina Wayne Fong, for suggesting that the budget was unbalanced.

Tuilaepa told Parliament that Cabinet Ministers are not fools and they cannot just sit back and not respond to speeches that incite anti-government sentiments.

“The Member is not prevented from expressing his views,” Tuilaepa said.

“We are the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) that stands to protect people’s human rights.

“But we are not fools and Cabinet (Ministers are) listening. There are speeches that appear to be clear from the start but it stirs things as it comes to the end and the Member is the one who is inciting things.”

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