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Samoa Parliament sidesteps Associate Minister’s conviction
01:14 am GMT+12, 18/11/2020, Samoa

 A heated exchange in parliament Tuesday between former Speaker and FAST Party leader, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polata’ivao and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, that the issue of a convicted Associate Minister was raised.
 
La’auli raised the conviction to make a point about the inconsistency of the Speakers decision to declare void the seats of Members of Parliament Faumuinā Leatinu’u Wayne Fong and Olo Fiti Vaai, “and yet nothing is done to the convicted MP who is also an Associate Minister,” La’auli pointed out.
 
Faumuinā and Olo’s seats were declared void after they registered under the Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi – FAST political party for next year’s general election.
 
The MPs said after their registrations, that it was their intention to run as FAST candidates in next year’s general election but their contracts as MPs do no run out until parliament is dissolved in January 2021.
In his defence, the Speaker said no Associate Minister has changed political parties and that any change of political parties can only be possible after this term ends in January 2021. This is the same argument Faumuinā and Olo are saying and why they are challenging the Speakers decision.
 
Speaker Toleafoa Faafisi explained his decision to declare the seats void in parliament Tuesday.
 
La’auli was the first to speak on the Meteorology, Geo-Science and Ozone Services Bill 2020 introduced by the PM. He tried to send a message of encouragement to the two MPs who have lost their seats when Tuilaepa interrupted saying the MP was out of order.
 
Despite the Speakers interventions to avoid a confrontation, Tuilaepa calling La’auli disrespectful by not following Parliament’s Standing Orders, escalated the exchange.
 
The PM continued interventions were to avoid La’auli from talking about the ousted MP’s. “The MP must speak on my Bill,” Tuilaepa asked the Speaker.
 
“I am not questioning the Speakers decision. All that I am trying to say is to offer a word of encouragement to these MPs who are no longer with us, as it is important to me,” said La’auli.
 
“It is not only you who feel for these MPs,” said the Speaker. “It’s not as if it is only you that feel for these MPs, but not us,” he said.
 
When La’auli insisted, the PM pointed out that the MP was a former Speaker “but he seems not to understand the Standing Orders and all he is doing is bringing lies into Parliament and he does not understand procedures.”
 
It was wen La’auli appealed to the Speaker by name, “Toleafoa, you are our protector in this House. Us the minority voice in parliament. But what are you doing about the PMs continued rudeness?” La’auli asked.
 
The PM again interrupted saying La’auli had no respect for the Speaker who hadn’t consented for him to speak.
 
Then La’auli addressed the PM directly. “Who are you to continue to disrespect my constituency?”
 
“Sit down,” Tuilaepa shouted at La’auli.
 
“You sit down,” La’auli shouted back with a finger pointed at Tuilaepa.
 
As the Speaker struggled to calm things down, he said it was not hard for him to ask the Sargent to remove the two members from the House.
 
Three other MPs wanted to speak but ignored by the Speaker who after a while, called the morning break.
 
Outside Parliament, La’auli said he was going to pursue the issue of the convicted MPs and repeated his disappointment at the inconsistency of the Speakers’ decisions and continued protection of the Prime Minister and his vulgar language.
 
Meanwhile, the ousted MPs Olo Fiti Va’ai and Faumuinā Leatinu’u Wayne Fong have challenged the Speakers decision in Court.

SOURCE: TALAMUA ONLINE NEWS/PACNEWS


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