Court "severely undermines" constitution: Tuilaepa

By Soli Wilson 21 May 2021, 9:00PM

The caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, said the constitution has been “severely undermined” by the court after it overturned an order to add an extra woman M.P. to Parliament.  

But Tuilaepa said the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) celebrated with a dance party on Friday following the failure of a legal challenge to the Court of Appeal.

The decision from the Court of Appeal said Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tuuau would not be able to sit in Parliament when it convenes, after a motion to stay the execution of her dismissal was rejected today in the Court of Appeal.

She had initially been appointed after the election to notionally fulfil a mandate requiring 10 per cent of elected M.P.s are women. 

The caretaker P.M. said the new era is that judges of the Supreme Court cannot divide properly and the new Parliament will be the subject of mockery for primary school children who know that five divided by 51, multiplied by 10 is not 10 per cent.

On Monday, a unanimous verdict reached by a panel of justices of the Supreme Court on Monday overrules the appointment of Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau to Parliament giving the Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party a Parliamentary majority.

Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai handed down the decision together with Justice Vui Clarence Nelson and Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa.

“Firstly the Judges’ conclusions were inconsistent. [Justice] Vui said there should be six, while [Justice] Lesatele and [Justice] Niava said there should be five,” said Tuilaepa.

“What has happened is that after discussing their opinions on why it should be either five or six, their discussions suddenly led to whether maybe the verdict was going to be delivered too late; leaving the five or six deliberation in TKO.

“There was no decision made on which is the truth after all their debates. They left what was most important whilst they made a decision based on delayed worries when it was right on time.

“This is why we filed an application to put that court decision on the side until the appeal, since we also filed for an appeal.

“Yet the verdict handed down today has said to uphold the decision of the Supreme Court saying that the Supreme Court’s ruling must not be changed; we are appealing this again.”

Tuilaepa said these are the necessary processes that need to be taken for the purposes of clearing up any confusion, for the sake of having clear records to save future generations from the same dilemma.

And with the first XVII Parliament to convene on Monday, the nation’s caretaker leader questioned how that will be done when the 10 per cent quota of women is not met.

Tuilaepa said that the percentage of having only five women in a Parliament of 51 only amounts to 9.8 per cent. 

“It has not gotten to 9.9 per cent, and then 10 per cent: what is this situation?” he said.

“The constitution [...] says women representatives in Parliament must not be below 10 per cent. 

"So now when we convene Parliament, that 10 per cent won’t be met.

“And that’s why we partied.

“When the news came, we had a dance party. The reason why we did this is that there is a new era in Samoa.

“The new era is, when you divide 5 by 51 [multiplied by 100], it is no longer 9.8 but 10.

“Children in Primary school are going to make fun of those who made this decision. Only one Judge got it right, it’s Justice Vui. Only him.”

Tuilaepa said this case had proven him wrong about Justice Vui’s arithmetic skills, saying he is most likely a St Joseph’s former student where students excel at maths. 

“What kind of Parliament will be convened when the Constitution is not being satisfied where it clearly outlines the 10 per cent?” he said.

“Only unconstitutional things are about to happen.”

Asked by a Government reporter if this means the constitution is being undermined, he said: “it’s not just undermined, it is severely undermined.”

She had been originally appointed due to a constitutional mandate that 10 per cent of sitting M.P.s be women. 

F.A.S.T. had previously had a one-seat majority in Parliament, leading 26 to 25 before the intervention by the Office of the Electoral Commissioner to add the extra appointment which had the parties tied. 

But since the court's intervention the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), will now be in the minority when Parliament convenes on Monday.

A few hours later the Head of State issued the writ for the State Opening of the XVIIth Parliament of Samoa on Monday, 24 May, 2021.

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Politics
By Soli Wilson 21 May 2021, 9:00PM
Samoa Observer

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