Judiciary sabotaging H.R.P.P., threatening: Tuilaepa

By Soli Wilson 03 July 2021, 3:00PM

The caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has alleged a Supreme Court order to convene Parliament by next Monday is an effort to stop his party’s administration in its tracks, saying the orders are uncalled for.

In a court ruling earlier this week the Fa’atuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party's ad-hoc swearing-in ceremony on 24 May held on the lawns of Parliament was deemed unconstitutional.

But as a means of moving past the power struggle that has gripped Samoa since April, it also ordered Parliament to convene within seven days from Monday. 

The court also raised the spectre of criminal prosecutions for contempt of court for anyone found to be standing in the way of its ruling but also that the F.A.S.T. party could be automatically sworn in should its instructions be ignored.

Speaking on Thursday on his weekly programme on state-owned radio, Tuilaepa alleged the decision was made deliberately. to avoid a stalemate of 26-26 between the two major parties and create a Parliament which would lead to a F.A.S.T. Government. 

“It seems to have been [a deliberate] act, in my view. Remember, I have been involved in politics for a long time, and from a political view as the leader of the current [caretaker] administration, it seems to be something to hinder the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.),” he said.

The H.R.P.P leader also questioned who the court's Orders are directed toward saying the court does not have the authority to make such demands.

“Who is this court Order meant for?” he asked.

“The judiciary does not demand [Parliament to convene] – this is stipulated under the Constitution – that is solely within the powers of the Head of State.

“I don’t know if they have forgotten but that is the gravity of this matter.”

Tuilaepa implied that the the judicial Orders amounted to an implicit threat against the Head of State.

“The words they have given are threats,” he said.

“I don’t know if the people who did this have forgotten that it is up to the Head of State, he is the sole authority that calls Parliament in Samoa’s Constitution.

“This is why we are thinking of making a humble request to the Court to review the tail of their decision.”

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai and Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma presided over the matter in question. 

He referred to the orders made by the court for Parliament to convene, following their ruling that the tent swearing-in was unlawful, as the “tail” of the decision.

“What’s extraordinary about this is, tails should only be raised when it is requested,” he said.

“A request is lodged on whether or not there is a tail before a tail is given.

“But for a tail to be provided without a question, this has caused a lot of doubt. It has really added on to a lot of doubt.”

A defiant Tuilaepa insists that Parliament can only be "properly constituted" after petitions, by-elections, and the invoking (if necessary) of a requirement that a minimum of six women M.P.s be present in Parliament, claiming it is the “tail” from the Appellate Courts decision.

But contrary to the caretaker Prime Minister's assertions, that is not what the clarification issued by the court said.

Its declaratory order instead clearly stated there was nothing stopping Parliament from convening and it will not be required to wait until all petitions and by-elections are finalised and a constitutional quota mandating a minimum number (six) of women are elected to Parliament. Instead, the court said it had provided no justifications at all for delaying the sitting of Parliament.

The clarification order issued last week was in response to the F.A.S.T. party’s seeking of clarification on the Court of Appeals decision that was handed down earlier in June.

Tuilaepa on Thursday condemned the move by F.A.S.T. saying it should have never been allowed.

He said that while the judiciary has its own reserve powers, Parliament and the Executive constituted of he and his Cabinet are also armed with their own respective powers, and he claimed one should not breach the other.

“You made your decision within your own piece of power you hold,” Tuilaepa said.

“You do not breach into the other two arms’ authorities, because if you do, that’s called you wanting to be the boss (fiapule).”

Tuilaepa also rejected an article from this newspaper published on Thursday’s edition, saying: “I don’t want to collide with the Court, I am courting the Court.”

“I am respecting the Court,” he said.

The front page story on Wednesday (“Caretaker P.M., court set on collision course”) covered his clear defiance following the handing down of the decision for Parliament to convene, accusing the court of overreaching its powers and seeking to limit his own. Tuilaepa said that one arm of Government should not seek to assert its authority over another, "like Hitler".

He criticised the grammar of the article and suggested for the writer to be taught better English.

“The correct translation of my words are as follows: The three branches of the independent state of Samoa, namely, the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive, must respect one another,” he said.

“And no one branch should extend its power over another, Hitler style, especially when it comes to Parliament, the Supreme lawmaking authority of the State, for the simple reason, its members are elected representatives of the people of Samoa.”

He added that those in the Judiciary are sworn in by the Head of State and therefore must be aware of the limits of their powers.

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By Soli Wilson 03 July 2021, 3:00PM
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