Caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in a press conference yesterday morning conveyed he, too, was shocked with the announcement of the additional Member of Parliament as declared and signed by the Head of State Tuimalealiifano Va’aleto’a Sualauvi II on Tuesday night.
Former Chair of the Parliamentary Finance Committee Aliimalemanu Moti Momoemausu Alofa Tuuau was declared a Member of Parliament on Tuesday night, boosting HRPP seats to 26.
Responding to questions from the media about the additional seat to make up the Temporary Special Measure (TSM) for women in Parliament, Tuilaepa said it could have also been a member of FAST.
“We are all shocked..” he said.
“Tatou te tete’i uma ā i le fa’ai’uga..”
“This extra seat could easily have been a FAST candidate, meaning they would have ended up with the extra seat,” said the caretaker Prime Minister.
“Se manū e sau o le sui a le FAST le nofoa fa’aopopo pe ana o se isi o latou sui tamaitai e telē le pasene”.
Tuilaepa said a fraction of a person cannot enter Parliament and that is why the recommendation by the Electoral Commissioner who is himself a credible lawyer, is the right decision.
“He has a good perspective and extensive understanding of Laws upon which this decision was based,” he said.
“E le mafai ona alu na’o se fasi faipule i totonu o le Palemene e tatau lava ona tagata atoa, ma o le mafua’aga lena lea e finau atu ai e tatau ona fa’aatoa le pasene lea o le 9.8 pasene.”
Caretaker Prime Minister reminded the country that this is not new. Samoa’s TSM was established after the 2011 general election when only two women won seats in Parliament.
Samoa’s TSM was first applied in 2016 when 4 women came through after elections.
4 out of the then 49 seats equated to 8.1% and Fa’aulusau Rosa Duffy-Stowers went down in history as Samoa’s 50th Member of Parliament and first woman to benefit from the TSM.
The additional seat ensures the 10% measure has been met, according to Tuilaepa.
Electoral Commissioner Responds
Responding to questions from Samoa Global News Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio said the “presently 5” as written in the Constitution refers to the 49 Seats that existed when this Amendment was passed in 2013.
“Now that there are 51 seats in Parliament, the explanatory memorandum that explains this change specifically states, that if the number of seats in Parliament increases, then the number of women representatives must also “automatically” increase”, explains the Electoral Commissioner.
The Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi party leader Fiame Naomi Mataafa has a different interpretation and says the Law is very clear and specifically states that the minimum number of women is 5, to remove any doubt”.
Fiame added, the intention of the TMS is to provide a floor and the only time the minimum number should be interpreted as 6, is if the Legislative Assembly of Samoa has a total of 60 seats.
FAST has filed a motion for declaratory orders to declare the activation of Article 44 (1A) as unlawful and unconstitutional. The motion is being heard before the Supreme Court of Samoa as this goes to press..