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Savai'i consultation wraps up with 50-plus submissions

Some 50-plus villages in Savai’i have appeared before a Special Parliamentary Committee and made submissions on three bills to overhaul the judiciary, as the Committee wraps up its hearings on the island.

The consultations on the Government-sponsored legislation Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Land and Titles Court Bill 2020 and Judicature Bill 2020 began mid-May this year and has attracted a lot of attention and led to discussions on the merits of the bills amongst villagers on the big island. 

The Legislative Assembly Clerk, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, said provisions under the L.T.C. Bill that limits the number of matai Sao to five was the main amendment opposed by the villages. 

“The faamatai system is quite strong in Savaii and you can understand the concerns of this particular provision,” he said. 

“Other villagers were concerned about the lengthy procedure of delivering decisions [in L.T.C.] and the timeframe to file a petition against bestowment of matai titles.” 

Tiatia said the Parliamentary Committee is looking into compiling recommendations to address issues raised about the matai titles bestowment. 

He confirmed there is an estimate of over 50 villages in Savai’i that appeared before the Special Parliamentary Committee, which will resume its work in Upolu soon. 

Recently, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi emphasised the important role of the Parliamentary Committee and the public consultation aspect of the bills. 

He said this is an open opportunity for the country to offer their advice and recommendations on what needs to be changed to strengthen the law making process. 

"This means once they return from Savai'i, they will review the opinions expressed in Savai'i and the bills are to be revised," he said.

Tuilaepa added that most of the concerns seem to be about the limiting of matai sa'o for each family to five. 

But such things are "easy to alter", he said. "This is why consultations are important. This is where it shows how wrong the announcements have been from those who do not understand and those trying to deceive (the country). 

"They think [the bill] has been finalised, but no, it means they do not understand the processing of a law since 1962. What saddens me is that it seems many other chiefs have been misled too."

According to the Legislative Assembly Clerk, the Committee will be meeting this week to arrange its consultation works in Upolu, which will likely start in the Vaimauga and Faleata constituency. 

He said the consultations are likely to be held at the Tooa Salamasina Hall in Sogi due to its convenience and space to accommodate villages. After the urban area, the Committee will go out to the rural area starting from the Anoamaa district heading to Vaa Fonoti, Aleipata ato Falealili and to Siumu. 

The Legislative Assembly Office will circulate a programme for the consultation in Upolu once it is finalised. 

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