Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi inspecting the guard of honour as Head of State
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 20 APRIL 2018: The former Head of States Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi is too old to return to politics given his concerns and controversy over the Lands and Titles Registration Act that he signed into law in 2008.
The 80 year old former Prime Minister and longtime opposition leader says he is enjoying doing work around his home at Tuaefu.
Tui Atua called the media to make his point after the Prime Minister refuted his claim during a conference in New Zealand that he was pressured to sign the Act. Tui Atua also claimed that he was assured by the then Attorney General that ownership of customary lands will not be affected by the legislation that allows the long term lease of customary owned lands.
Ten years after assented the legislation, he told the media today that he signed the Act in 2008 after the then Attorney General addressed his concerns.
“I was assured by the Attorney General that the provisions of the LTR Bill would not impact in any way the people and the heirs – suli’s rights to their customary lands,” said Tui Atua.
He said he invited the Attorney General to his home to explain and clarify that the Bill would not affect customary lands in any way other than for suli.
Early this year, Tui Atua presented a paper at Auckland University where he said that he was pressured to sign the Act.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa in his radio program with Talamua Media contested Tui Atu’a claim saying that as the advisor to the Head of State, no such concerns were expressed to him by the Head of State.
Tui Atua did not want to debate the issue and insisted that he did not have much knowledge of the Act then, and because he was the one who signed the Act, people’s anger seemed to be directed at him and not the people those who designed the Act.
He also said as of today, a copy of the Attorney General’s assurance letter to him, which he believes is testimony of the concerns he raised then, could not be found anywhere.
With all the concerns, complaints and accusations against the Act, Tui Atua was asked if this was not the time to revive the Mau a Samoa movement.
He was also asked his intentions to return to politics but said he was 80 years old and is happy with what he is doing now, working around his house.
Tui Atua believes the customary land issue should be put back to the people in a referendum.
“If the people agree to support the LTRA, then I am happy because the people have spoken,” he said.