Protest H.R.P.P.'s opposition strategy
The Human Rights Protection Party's (H.R.P.P.) leaders told a thousand-plus supporters on Monday that their role as an opposition had begun with protests and would not stop until “constitutional” Government was restored to Samoa.
The minority party claims that only the Head of State may call for Parliament to sit under the supreme law of Samoa. But a series of court judgments have found his power is explicitly constrained by the constitution. And by failing to convene Parliament within 45 days after the election he explicitly breached the provisions of the constitution.
A large crowd gathered at the Fiame Mata’afa Faumuina Mulinuu II (FMFMII) building early in the morning in preparation to protest what they claim to be the "disintegration" of the Constitution.
H.R.P.P.’s Monday march marks the fourth peaceful march to take place in the span of three months, following the 9 April 2021 general election.
Protestors of all ages walked two kilometres from the FMFMII building to Malae o Tiafau, despite sporadic downpours and sang traditional songs in unison to rally against the judiciary's decision to install the new Government.
People held up posters with messages calling to "Uphold the Constitution" and "Constitutional Government not Judicial Government" as they waved Samoan flags in the air.
The National Church Council (N.C.C.) Secretary and church Minister Reverend Ma’auga Motu blessed the gathering prior to welcoming remarks delivered by M.P.-elect, Alaiasa Sepulona Moananu.
Alai’asa listed that the march was to stand in solidarity to maintain the integrity of the Constitution and to stand in support of the Head of State’s constitutional powers which they believe has been breached by the Judiciary.
“It is Samoa’s belief that practices may change but our foundations remain,” he said.
“No one can change the Supreme Law of Samoa; it cannot be changed by one or by international agreements that cannot change the Constitution of this country because it is what guides any Samoan alive as well as unborn generations.
“There may be a time when our Committee and Leader call upon you all again for future events; our opposition has started, we will not rest anymore, from now onto the next five years,” Alai’asa stated.
H.R.P.P. leader, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, greeted the large crowd and said the event was to voice the opinions of the “silent majority”.
“This is our sacred ground; where we witness the raising of our flag of independence and sing our national anthem of our freedom,” he said.
“Again and again we stand to pronounce our independence and the rule of law, enshrined in our constitution, the Constitution that was passed after months and months of debate by 165 leaders from our constituencies and our four leaders Tama Aiga.”
He spent a great amount of time at the rally speaking in English to avoid an unnamed “newspaper” from misconstruing his quotes to overseas countries. Many in the crowd nodded and shouted “very true,” in response.
“And because our Constitution has been violated, by none other than our Judiciary that was especially set up to protect the very constitution of Samoa that is supposed to enshrine the rule of law,” Tuilaepa continued in English.
“The Constitution has been brutally breached by the Judiciary; what can we do? What can we do?
“We have to take the question to our people where power lies. The very people who has the power to elect its leaders, to sit here in our Parliament, to pass our laws.
“The Parliament is the supreme law-making body of the country; we make the laws and direct the Judiciary to interpret the laws.
“The Judiciary is the protector of our Constitution, the laws that rule Samoa. And what has the judiciary done? Violate the Constitution of this country, that we fought for, for many years.
“They must follow what Parliament directs.”
Tuilaepa said the Parliamentary powers have been severely undermined by the Fa’atuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party. His statement was met by loud cheers from the crowd.
“They crawled to the Judiciary but this Parliament should never crawl to the judiciary,” he said.
“Why? Because the Parliament has the people’s power. Samoans do not deceive other Samoans.
“The Government of Samoa is sworn in by the Head of State, who has been adorned with the authority from the Constitution; he is the symbol of unity of our people.
“They come to us saying they have a new Government, but that Government was chosen unconstitutionally by corrupt Judges. A corrupt Court cannot make a just decision.
“The current Government is one that was chosen by a business couple, who now sit at the Government building. But who chose them? A business couple, for people such as them.”
Tuilaepa also used the opportunity to announce that there will also be a rally in Savaii on Thursday.
Amongst the cheering crowd was 82-year-old businessman, Ti’asamoa Fa’asavalu Feamaali’i, from Moata’a who said he is marching for the “party that has the people’s best interest at heart.”
“I wanted to come to join today because I will not be misled by others. As you can see I am very old, I have voted since Samoa became independent and I am here because I still believe in the former Administration and I am here to bear witness to the good work they have done for Samoa,” he said.
“I support the former Government, not because of anything but the work they have done for Samoa. Jobs talk.”
The same sentiments were shared by Teleiai Enosa from Samatau who said he will continue to support the H.R.P.P. as he says Samoa is a much better place than it was 40 years ago, due to the leadership of the former Administration.
The 69-year-old also lamented the way the new Government has transitioned into power, saying the changes brought about have been “unusual” for Samoa.
“Samoa is used to holding its Head of State in the highest regard, that’s what we are used to, but now what are we seeing? We are seeing so many unfortunate changes, including the rejection of the sacred authority of the Head of State,” he said.
“Why are we suddenly like this? This is why I am marching; I am absolutely against this spirit of disregarding the powers of the Head of State.”
Also from Samatau, 67-year-old, Iumai Teu said he is utterly against what he claims, the “breaching” of the Constitution as well as the “lack of recognition” for the Head of State.
“We’re not here to support for anything else but to safeguard powers of the Constitution and to ensure it is restored,” he said
Female supporters of the H.R.P.P. verbally abused this newspaper’s reporters as they marched by, threatening to hit the company vehicle parked in front of the Tofilau Eti Building in Mulinuu on Monday. Earlier in the morning, female supporters in front of the H.R.P.P. headquarters' gate at Mulinuu called out phrases such as “It’s the liars,” towards a passing Samoa Observer vehicle.
Reporters and photographers from this newspaper have been verbally abused, chased out and threatened at the H.R.P.P. headquarters multiple times before.
Buses full of civilians of all ages, from as far as Lepa disembarked in front of the Government building from 8 am.
Heavy police presence was seen at the ground floor of the building. The Samoa Observer understands it is to ensure that no unwanted disturbances take place for the new government that are now housed in the FMFMII.
The rally on Monday comes after the party's supporters participated in a vehicle convoy protest against the judiciary last Friday.