APIA, SAMOA – 12 JUNE 2020: Member of Parliament for Salega East, Olo Fiti Vaai is accusing the Parliamentary Committee now hearing views and submissions from the public in Savaii, of misleading the people by promising that they will remove sections of the Bills to win over public support.
The Independent Opposition MP told Talamua that such action by the Committee breaches Parliament’s Standing Orders and belittles the integrity and independence of Parliament.
The Committee is holding public consultation on three controversial bills that include the Constitutional Amendment 2020 and the Lands and Titles Bill 2020 and is banning the mainstream media from covering the submissions inside the Committee session.
However the office of the Legislative Assembly has been allowed to film the sessions where selected views of those in support of the Bills are posted online.
“Olo has criticized the Office of the Legislative Assembly of spreading propaganda by the selective posting of videos of villages that support the Bills and not those with opposing views.”
According to Olo Fiti Vaai, the Committee sessions should have been open to the public and should be streamed live on TV and Radio for the public’s information.
The mainstream media only have access to talk to the villagers after they made their submissions to the Committee and do not capture the complete picture of what transpired in the closed sessions.
“The Office of the Legislative Assembly should be independent as they are the third pillar of Samoa’s democratic system and should not hold themselves out to be in support of the Bills which they had done,” he told Talamua.
In the Committees first week of work, the Committee Chairperson, Gatoloaifaana Ama Gidlow reported the HRPP Caucus that 90% of the submissions heard by the Committee that far were in support of the Bills.
MP Olo Fiti Vaai said under Parliaments Standing Orders, any Parliamentary Committee reports only to Parliament and it’s unbecoming to have such a Committee reporting elsewhere other than Parliament as it belittles the integrity and independence of Parliament.
“It’s why I say, Parliament must set up a special committee to investigate the actions and behaviour of this committee as it has breached its terms of reference under the Standing Orders,” Olo said.
Other that the Committee Chair who is a former Cabinet Minister, all the members are first time MPs of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party.