Samoa Member of Parliament for Faleata No.3 Ale Vena Ale has raised major concerns relating to bribery and corrupt practices during election petitions after an election.
Ale Vena Ale made a suggestion that the Government should consider drawing the fine line on what is considered cultural practice and bribery during campaign periods for any election.
He made the points when he took the floor earlier this week during debates on the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act that were passed on Tuesday night.
The new changes to the Electoral Act are to address certain issues arising from recent Court decisions regarding eligibility for candidacy and to provide clarity for the administration required for elections and By-elections.
“One of the issues we have seen after the election and throughout the many petitions is that the boundary of what is considered cultural practice and bribery is not known,” said Ale.
“The concern for me is that there might be more election petitions to come after the by-elections in relation to similar matters such as bribery and treating which may arise after the by-elections.
“We don’t know where the line is and the boundaries for these things. When do we consider it cultural practice and when is it bribery?”
Ale then made reference to what he claimed were acts of bribery, leading up to the April elections, which later on had been ruled as a cultural practice by the courts.
Moreover, Ale said it was disappointing to see and hear of the settlements between two candidates during election petitions and the conditions of their settlements.
“They had to settle the issues by doing trades and offering a huge amount of money so they could come into an agreement.
“This in my view is a very dangerous and extreme way of dealing with these things, by trying to settle the cases with money.
“Honourable Speaker, I am not scared to talk about this issue as I know there were offers starting from $30,000(US$11,573), $50,000(US$19,284) all the way up to $100,000(US$38,568) just so the candidates could settle and come to an agreement.
“To me, this is the most corrupt and illegal practice in the arena of politics in this country.
“That is something the Government should look into.”
The Speaker of the House, Papali’i Li’o Ta’eu Masipau at this point interjected and reminded the MP to refrain from making claims without proof or evidence.
Ale then accepted the reminder from the Speaker and noted his approval of the new changes made to the Electoral Act.
The proposed amendments made to the Electoral Amendment Bill (No.2) 2021 put forward by the Government were passed on Tuesday night without alterations.
SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS