Letter to the Editor: Empowering Women to Enter Parliament

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HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION PARTY

PETESA – BEACH ROAD MULINU’U – 1st November 2022

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

The Rule of Law and the Empowering of Women to Enter Parliament Misconstrued

The results of the recent Snap Elections in Vanuatu produced an All-Male Members of Parliament.

These Election results once again stress the importance of the most powerful constitutional safeguard for the empowerment of women in Samoa to become members of our Parliament in any General Elections.

Our Constitutional provision for the 10% minimum of Women MPs’ calculated on the total seats in Parliament ensures forever and ever and ever again for the ill-informed that the women of Samoa shall always be represented in our Parliament.

This 10% becomes a powerful incentive for the fearless and educated female leaders to become candidates in any General Elections, in the sure knowledge that if a female candidate was not elected when the preliminary Election Results are read out immediately on polling day, there is always a second chance to be chosen under the 10% minimum provision for women MPs when the results are finally confirmed.

If the minimum 10% is reduced through death or other causes after being elected, the woman with the next highest percentage vote at the recent elections get automatically chosen without the need to have another bi-election.

If 10% or more women won their seats in the General Election, the 10% provision is not activated as the minimum number of women required by the Constitution is already satisfied.

The usage of the percentage vote basis in determining the ranking of the women vote is the most-fair way to treat all large and small districts the same.

A woman in a small district has therefore the same chance of selection as the woman in a District with a larger voter population

Note again only the minimum number for women only is legislated.

There is no maximum!

Thus, the whole 51 seats in Parliament can be held by women only, as the membership of Parliament was always open from the beginning to both women and men since 1962.

Samoa’s initiative for women is being studied for adoption by many democracies in the Pacific.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, at a recent meeting of Parliament stated that with the most recent admission of another female MP into Parliament, the complexity of the 10% provision has finally been clarified.

In fact, the formula is very simple, straight forward and not complex but the additional woman MP now has since raised the number of additional women MPs to 7 and therefore the constitutionality of this 7th member has given much food for thought.

Another latest reported decision by the PM to dismiss the President of the Land and Titles Court is unparalleled in our Democracy since we became independent.

Only Parliament can dismiss the President of the Land and Titles Court and the Chief Justice on a two-thirds majority.

The last Parliament had dealt already with this constitutional challenge and if it proceeds regardless, it means any Judge of the Court can be dismissed any time the Prime Minister ecides.

And costly litigation against Government can occur, should parties impacted by decisions made by the current President decides to take the Government to Court.

The independence of the Courts is now threatened by the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi party Government, and the FAST dominated Parliament, a clear abuse of power.

The offer of the post of President if vacated to another senior Judge of the Supreme Court discloses another ugly strategy.

While FAST can persuade easily a voter to vote for FAST, through an offer of moneys and employment, a senior Judge has more reasons to consider carefully.

The typical process used now by the PM and Cabinet of withholding the pay of those targeted for abuse to make them suffer and force them to surrender, is evil.

The manner of behavior by Fiame in recent times is becoming extremely serious to the independence of the Court and the stability of Samoa’s democracy.

It is a major worry by the Human Rights Protection Party.

It raises the question: Is the PM’s Health in every respect – ok?

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Leader of HRPP