By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 09 NOVEMBER 2020: The former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa has urged voters that the power to accept or reject the 3 controversial Bills before parliament, is in their hands.
Fiame was the Guest Speaker at the launch of the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi – FAST political party last Friday.
“Talk to your Members of Parliament and tell them that you will not vote for them if they do not support withdrawing those Bills, and that is how you exercise that power,” said Fiamē.
“If you have love for our country and all of us, and to protect your rights under the law, each one of us has a part to play; express your views to withdraw these bills for further consultation as God has time,” she said.
The Parliamentary Committee has travelled around the country to hear views on the bills and Fiamē made it clear that she wished it was the country that makes the decision. But it is not as it is the MPs who will vote.
Fiamē resigned from Government in September as she could not support the Bills that she argued will destabilize Samoa’s judiciary and compromise the rule of law.
“Although there are three separate Bills, but their common purpose is to dismantle the independence of the Judiciary and compromise the rule of law; which is not a minor issue,” she told a receptive audience.
Fiamē also insisted that the independence and checks and balance between the three pillars of Samoa’s democracy have been gravely compromised.
The Executive has a firm hold on power. Parliament is controlled by HRPP – as a single party with 46 of 50 members of parliament. The Judiciary is the remaining check and the Bills purpose is to control the Judiciary.
“When that happens, we lose our protection under the law,” said Fiamē.
“E sopo loa le pule lea i le Fa’amasinoga, e ala atu i Pili nei e tolu, ua leai loa se puipuiga mo Samoa.”
Selling the customary card
Fiamē also pointed out that Government and the Parliamentary Committee have been promoting the message that these Bills will give prominence and recognition of Samoa’s customs and traditions. But also wrapped within the Bills is Government’s belief that our forefathers who were part of the Constitutional Convention – Fono Fa’avae and accepted the Constitution, did not understand the whiteman’s idea of individual and communal rights.
Are our cultural practices and traditions affected?
Fiamē pointed out that from the Head of State, Prime Minister, Cabinet, Parliament and the Judiciary, all these positions are held by matai Samoa.
“And yet they (Government) say our forefathers did not understand. Samoans who drafted and accepted the Constitution then trusted in God as the rule of law,” she said.
She noted that at the time, Samoa was at war just like all other countries but they accepted a Constitution based on law so all Samoans can live in peace and harmony.
“That Constitution is now at the brink of being dismantled by these 3 Bills,” warned Fiamē.
She insisted that Samoa must uphold the Constitution and law accepted by our forefathers in order for the country to remain in peace.
“Ia tausisi i tulafono na fa’ave e matua e maua ai le filemu.”
Remain as an Independent until Parliament is dissolved
A lot of questions have been asked about Fiamē’s political association after she resigned from Government.
She told the audience that she had registered as an Independent candidate for next year’s general election.
“But once Parliament is dissolved in January 2021, then I will be free to join a political party.”
She also explained the reason why she decided to remain an Independent, to protect the seat for her constituency given the law, so her constituency can still have a voice in Parliament going into the end of the parliamentary term.
“E ave le fa’amuamua ile tuafono ia mautinoa ia fa’aauau ona iai le leo o lo’u itumalo i totonu o le Palemene seia taape le Palemene.”