Speaker Refuses HRPP Request for Head of State Swearing In

0
5091

The Speaker of the House Papalii Li’o Oloipola Taeu Masipau, has refused a request by the Human Rights Protection Party leader that the HRPP MPs yet to be sworn in, are done so “by a Speaker who has been sworn in by the Head of State”.

Hon Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi had suggested that Papali’i be re-sworn in by the Head of State Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, before the Speaker swears in MPs at the upcoming sitting of Parliament.

“Or if not, then we could be sworn in by the Head of State”, suggests Tuilaepa in laying out options for the Speaker to consider.

“As the Head of the Independent arm of Parliament, you would be the only Speaker to not be sworn in by a Head of State since Samoa’s Independence,” writes Tuilaepa.

“Surely you would agree and want to uphold the formalities that have been carried out since our Independence,” adds Tuilaepa who also tells Papalii that the Speaker’s position as an Independent arm of Government is sealed, “as no political party has the 2/3rds majority required to remove you from Office..”

Papalii Li’o being sworn in, 24 May 2021. Image: Jaleen Tupai, SGN.

Papalii has responded to Tuilaepa in a letter shared with all media on Monday afternoon.

The Speaker of the House reaffirms his position that Members of Parliament are sworn in by the Speaker of the House, and not the Head of State.

Papalii Lio reminds the former PM that he as Speaker of the House, and all FAST candidates were sworn-in at the tent ceremony on Monday 24th May, as confirmed by the Court of Appeal decision of 23 July 2021.

“In compliance with PART V (52) CONSITUTION OF THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF SAMOA, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Prime Minister and Cabinet as well as Members of Parliament of the Faatuatua Ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST Party) were sworn in thus having been recognized as the Government for the 5 years of the XVII Parliamentary term. This swearing in has been ruled on by the Court of Appeal on the 23 July 2021, to be legal. In this decision, the Court of Appeal recognized that the Meeting of the Legislative Assembly on the 24 May 2021 was legal”, writes the Speaker.

The Speaker writes that he agrees with the position taken by Prime Minister Fiame and takes offense that Tuilaepa has not yet accepted the legal swearing in of FAST members.

“You have received the views of the Honorable Prime Minister, and I as Speaker also share these views and I will not make a bias judgment. My sympathies are with the constituencies who have elected us as leaders of the country whose expectations are for us to work together yet this is not the case. To date, you have continued to oppose and will not accept our swearing-in, most importantly the decision of the Court of Appeal, which has led to the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi Party as Government. I have already stated and will reiterate that the Judgement of the Court, is law pursuant to Part XI(III) of the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa.”

Papalii then clarifies that Tuilaepa and all HRPP elected members, on the 14th of September, would be sworn in by himself, as Speaker of the House.

“The swearing in of your good self and members of the Human Rights Protection party is to be done by the Speaker in accordance with Part III (14)(1)(2) Standing Order of the Parliament of Samoa 2021”. 

Tuilaepa and the HRPP party have said that their respective Constituencies would be attending the Parliamentary sitting on the 14th of September, as would their families and supporters.

With seven by-elections to be held following petitions, 18 elected MPs of HRPP need to be sworn-in as members of Samoa’s XVIIth Parliament.

The Speaker’s Response in Verbatim:

06 September 2021 

Susuga Tuilaepa Auelua Fatialofa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi LeaderHuman Rights Protection Party PETESA, MULINUU 

Subject: Response to Letter dated 26 August 2021 & Letter dated 01 September 2021 

Afioga e

With respect, I tender my response to the two letters as above mentioned

Thank you for recognizing my position as Speaker of Parliament of the Independent State of Samoa

Generally, my view from reading the two letters, you recommend that the XVII Parliament be officially convened as due process: where the Speaker is to be sworn in by the Head of State, Members of Parliament to then be sworn in by the Speaker OR for you and the remaining members to be sworn in by the Head of State

I express gratitude for the recommendations given however I wish to present my view on the discussed matter. I acknowledge the number of years you have served our dear country as the Leader of the Government and Leader of the House and it is with this respect that I will assist particularly with regards to the LAW as I am sure you are very much aware of. 

In compliance with PART V (52) CONSITUTION OF THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF SAMOA, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Prime Minister and Cabinet as well as Members of Parliament of the Faatuatua Ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST Party) were sworn in thus having been recognized as the Government for the 5 years of the XVII Parliamentary term. This swearing in has been ruled on by the Court of Appeal on the 23 July 2021, to be legal. In this decision, the Court of Appeal recognized that the Meeting of the Legislative Assembly on the 24 May 2021 was legal

In accordance with PART XI (111) CONSTITUTION OF THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF SAMOA, the word Court of Appeal is defined. The word lawis also defined. In the interpretation of the word lawit includes the Judgment of a Court, thus should be abided and complied with by every citizen of Samoa

In accordance also with PART III (15) (2) STANDING ORDERS OF PARLIAMENT OF SAMOA, 2021, every Member shall uphold the law and safeguard the principles contained in the Constitution

Furthermore, in submission to PART III (14) (1) (2) STANDING ORDERS OF PARLIAMENT OF SAMOA, The Oath shall be administered before the Assembly by the Speaker to each member, who shall subscribe the same at the first appropriate opportunity after the member‘s election to the Assembly. No Member of Parliament shall sit or vote therein...until that Member has taken and subscribed the Oath of Allegiance.” 

I believe that you and your Party are fully aware of the laws that I have cited because these are the very laws that were amended and structured by your good self and the Human Rights Protection Party during your time in government

You have received the views of the Honorable Prime Minister, and I as Speaker also share these views and I will not make a bias judgment. My sympathies are with the constituencies who have elected us as leaders of the country whose expectations are for us to work together yet this is not the case. To date, you have continued to oppose and will not accept our swearingin, most importantly the decision of the Court of Appeal, which has led to the Faatuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi Party as Government. I have already stated and will reiterate that the Judgement of the Court, is law pursuant to Part XI(III) of the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa. The swearing in of your good self and members of the Human Rights Protection party is to be done by the Speaker in accordance with Part III (14)(1)(2) Standing Order of the Parliament of Samoa 2021

I pray that the Omnipotent above will bless you with understanding so that we may come together and work for the betterment of Samoa and her people, for the present and duration of this parliamentary term

I write this letter with due respect

Soifua ma ia manuia

Ma le faaaloalo lava

Hon. Papalii Lio Oloipola Taeu Masipau                           (Speaker) 

CC: Hon Fiame Naomi MataafaPrime Minister