Choice made on issues not offers: Tuala

The Gagaemauga1 independent Member of Parliament that came through victor in the General Election, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio says his political party choice was based on issues, not on any offers of positions or rewards. 

Tuala was welcomed with open arms and cheers from the Fa’atuatua ile Atua ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party on Wednesday evening as he walked into its Maota Samoa complex in Vaitele. 

Tuala was presented with a red shirt to match those worn by all the successful Members of Parliament from the party. 

F.A.S.T.'s leader Fiame Naomi Mata’afa acknowledged the support from Gageamauga 1 and Tuala welcoming him to the party where they will sail together from here on.  

About his decision to pledge his allegiance to F.A.S.T., Tuala said it was not a question of what was offered to him but on the key policies he felt strongly about. 

“My decision was made based on the issues as mentioned,” he said during a press conference.   

As an independent, Tuala was advocating on several issues including an overhaul of the controversial Land and Titles Court laws amongst other legislation and foreign policy on China.   

He made those discussions and intentions clear during his earlier meetings with the Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi and F.A.S.T. leader Fiame Naomi Mata’afa. 

“I wanted to understand what both parties' foreign policies on China [were] because if I am unclear about it [then] so is the whole country,” he said. 

“We are seeing some of the new changes happening in our country concerning Chinese and I do not oppose them but I want to understand Samoa’s relationship and policy on China. I believe I am in the dark about it and so is the country.” 

About his decision to join F.A.S.T. Tuala said it was clear after his meeting with the Prime Minister that his negotiation terms were not agreed upon. 

One of those conditions he made clear to Tuilaepa is for him to step down as a leader saying that one of the things that the people are crying out for is change. 

“I had sought his view on stepping down from the position as Prime Minister and the call from the country for a change but it was not accepted,” he said. 

“He [would] continue on his tenure as the Prime Minister even if I decide to join the H.R.P.P. 

“The other important issue is reviewing the three [pieces of legislation overhauling the Land and Titles Court and judiciary] that Fiame and Samoa Law Society advocated against.

“I felt that I needed to advocate on this while I had the opportunity and I had asked the Prime Minister if there [would] be a chance to review the legislation and returning the supervisory role back to the Supreme Court.” 

Tuala the Prime Minister in return offered to continue with the laws as they existed now but with the prospect of making future changes - something he was not content with. 

Other laws he raised concerns about were the taxing of the church ministers and division of electoral territorial boundaries.

In arriving at his conclusion, the independent M.P. that has registered with F.A.S.T. said his constituency’s decision and his “was made together with God”. 

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