Opposition Leader says Speakers decision “unfounded”

Opposition Leader Palusalue Faapo 11 and Satapuala MP, Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA: Wednesday 22 August 2012: Leader of the Opposition Party, Palusalue Faapo 11 says the Speakers decision to by pass the Privileges Committee of Parliament and for the Attorney General to investigate the Satapuala MP Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster in the road blockage last Thursday, as “unfounded” (le fa’avaea).

Palusalue said that any decision made in Parliament is the “sole discretion of the Speaker who should have followed Parliament’s Standing Orders.”

The decision to pass the matter on to the Attorney General to investigate and lay charges was a motion by the Prime Minister in Ministerial Statement about the Satapuala issue.

After the Prime Minister speech which was tabled on a motion by the Minister of Telecommunications and seconded by the Deputy Prime Minister, Palusalue tried unsuccessfully to speak but was not allowed by the Speaker who ruled that there was no debate on the Ministerial Statement.

Palusalue however managed to voice his question “why the matter has been passed to the Attorney General and by passing the Privileges Committee whom he thought was the proper forum to address any issues regarding MPs and any questions about their behaviour.

Palusalue later told the media during a press conference that he knew the matter could not be debated as it was delivered as a Ministerial Statement by the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malilegaoi. However, he only wanted to remind the Speaker the Standing Orders where such matters are referred to a special Parliamentary Committee to investigate rather than handing it over to the criminal court.

“When an MP breached his parliamentary obligations and privileges or a disciplinary action is questioned, it is the duty of the Privileges Committee to look into it and decide on a verdict,” said Palusalue.

Parliament Speaker Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao told Talamua that Parliament ‘can not handle the matter because  both the Prime Minister and myself were victims of road block at Satapuala and dangerous weapons were also involved.”

He said the Opposition will have a chance to respond once the report is in.

Palusalue and Tautua Samoa agree with Tuilaepa that no one is above the law and agree with all that Tuilaepa spoke about in his ministerial statement.

“However, we do not agree with the way the matter is being handled,” said Palusalue who is concerned that criminal charges are likely.

Palusalue believed that Tuilaepa has resolved to this tactic knowing that he would not succeed if he tried to use the 2/3 of parliament to decide the MP’s fate in parliament.

“They tried it before when several Tautua MPs were banned from Parliament before, but the Court ruled against the ban.”

“Tautua will not be intimidated by any numbers,” said Aeau Peniamina, the Tautua Samoa Deputy leader.

Toeolesulusulu could not comment to the media’s queries saying that the matter is now before the law and he did not want to comment prior to the investigation.

Tautua Samoa MP’s believed that it was the village that should be investigated not the MP. They believe Toeolesulusulu is used as a scapegoat for the incident. They also believe that Tuilaepa should also be charged for the demeaning words he used against the matais and people of Satapuala (lafoga masoa i matai Satapuala).

Palusalue strongly believes that Tuilaepa has broken the same rules he claims others have broken.

“We are thinking about it and will decide on our future action,” Palusalue said.

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