Committee seeks to suspend Tuilaepa and Leala indefinitely

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 24 May 2022, 10:56AM

The Parliamentary Privileges and Ethics Committee has recommended the Opposition leader and party secretary be suspended indefinitely from the House following the tabling of their findings Tuesday morning.

Opposition Leader and M.P. for Lepa, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi is currently in isolation after returning from overseas and could not attend the sitting. 

His deputy leader, Lauofo Fonotoe Pierrre sought the Speaker’s discretion to defer discussion on the matter, due to the absence of his leader and cited the need for a fair trial of his leader. 

However, the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) secretary and M.P. for Faleata No. 3 Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, while acknowledging the support from Lauofo, said the House should proceed with the report. 

Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa reminded the House that those who have been accused were already been given the opportunity to respond to the accusations. 

She added the findings highlighted in the report raises the question of privileges and under Standing Orders such matters should be prioritised on the House's business.   

The Speaker of the House, Papalii Lio Masipau agreed with the Prime Minister and ordered that discussions continue on the report and its findings.  

The recommendation was tabled by the Chairman of the Committee and Minister of Health, Valasi Tafito Selesele before the House and is currently being debated in the chamber. 

After deliberation by the Committee, Valasi said they found the M.P. for Lepa and the M.P. for Faleata No. 3 guilty of misconduct. 

The recommendation to suspend the members indefinitely means they will not be eligible to allowance or pay during their suspension. 

The Chairman cited the Members for breaching Standing Orders, Legislative Assembly Powers and Privileges Ordinance 1960 and parliamentary Oath of Allegiance. 

The complaint was filed by Deputy Prime Minister, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio who was also absent from the sitting after he contracted COVID-19. 

Prior to tabling the report, the Speaker had informed the House of a eleventh-hour decision by two Members of the committee who wanted to remove their signature from the report by the Parliamentary Privileges and Ethics Committee. 

He did not name the Members who had already signed the report, but on the morning when the report was to be tabled, they moved to remove their signatures. 

The Speaker told the House he will not accept the decision of the two Members, saying it appeared the Members took their involvement in the Committee and the integrity of the Parliament lightly. 

The Chairman of the Committee Valasi said he only heard of the reports in the morning about the two Members. 

He added Members who change their minds overnight should not be trusted. 

• This is a developing story...

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By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 24 May 2022, 10:56AM
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