Former Head of State responds to P.M.
The former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, has responded to claims that Samoa’s forefathers did not understand the Constitution by emphasising individual rights above Samoan culture.
That claim was made by the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegao’I, when he addressed mounting concerns about the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, Land and Titles Court 2020 and Judicature Bill 2020.
But the Tama A Aiga, whose ancestor sat on the Constitutional Convention, said claims from Tuilaepa are painful and “not cheap”.
Speaking at his residence in Tuaefu on Friday, Tui Atua. said comments from Tuilaepa were unfounded and unsupported by the Constitution. The Prime Minister had alleged the nation’s founding documents had not placed due emphasis on Samoan culture.
“Maybe Tuilaepa spoke casually about our ancestors because his parents were not part of the Constitutional Convention,” he said.
“But for us whose parents were involved in the Constitutional Convention, these claims are not cheap. They are seriously painful.
“I pity Tumua ma Pule, Aiga ile Tai ma le Va’a o Fonoti, Aiga ma o latou Tama, Tama ma o latou Aiga; and all our ancestors who were part of the Constitutional Convention.”
In addition, Tui Atua said he pitied “our parents who are no longer safe with our words”.
He asked where the Constitutional Convention had supported Tuilaepa’s claim that Samoa’s ancestors do not understand the supreme law of the land.
He said nowhere in the Constitution is a statement made that individual rights had supremacy over decisions made in the village.
“This Constitution is not by an individual: it is by the common consensus of our people,” said Tui Atua.
“This is what they wanted, to protect themselves because what is happening now is politics.
“Politics is you are taking pots of money and jobs to people and you are trying to create a consensus that gives you the majority so you would be able to say this is the majority of the opinion so therefore that should dictate how it is .”
Tui Atua spoke about the ‘fai su’ava’i and ‘fu’e suavai’ - or, in his translation, people who, by turns, prepared and took the food.
He said the relationship between those who prepare the food and take it was a contrast between the vision of the nation’s elders with Samoa’s present day population.
In contrast with the comments by the Prime Minister about Samoa's forefathers, Tui Atua said people should be mindful and remember those that came before them.
About the proposed changes to establish an independent Land and Titles Court, the former Head of States said if the Government genuinely wants to address the problem it will not find peace with the current approach.
“There is a big problem [in L.T.C.] and maybe the Prime Minister is saying this is the way to do it but I’m telling you whatever system you have you need jurisprudence that is an essential part of the Judicature bill,” he said.
Speaking about the Commission of Inquiry into the Land and Titles Court held in 2016, Tui Atua said that 80 per cent of the people who gave evidence alleged corruption and ignorance of the Judge in the decisions delivered.
The 80 per cent figure he cited referred to the number of cases that were ruled on by the L.T.C. and which were appealed by the parties involved.
Tui Atua also said claims from the were clearly misguided despite being responsible for appointment of the Judges who presided over the 80 per cent decisions that were appealed.
He pointed out the Government has not responded to those claims revealed by the Commission of Inquiry and had instead pushed the blame on the Constitutional Convention.
He said if the Government was going to dig up the graves of those in the past it should begin with the graves of those who had died from last year’s nationwide measles outbreak.
“When difficult times arrive we look at the signs,” he said.
“This is common for the Prime Minister when a crisis strikes: he blames others.
“Why was there no Commission of Inquiry into the children that died from the measles…?”