Tuesday 27 July 2021 Apia Samoa. Outgoing Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi did not hold back his anger towards the Samoa Judiciary, saying their judgments, including the decision handed down last Friday 23 July by the Court of Appeal, were corrupt, unlawful and unconstitutional (piopio, solitulafono, solifaavae).
Tuilaepa was speaking during an oratory exchange with some matai from Savaii who had visited Petesa on Tuesday morning, at the exact same time Fiame Naomi Mataafa was holding her first Cabinet meeting as Prime Minister of Samoa.
Tuilaepa told the group of Savaii matai that HRPP was chosen by God, however, they have had to hand over the Government because the Court has failed to carry out their duties with integrity.
“They should look and read the Laws and make their decisions with integrity, otherwise only decisions lacking integrity are handed down”, he said angrily.
“E vaavaai iai maka, vaavaai iai maka, ma faikau ma malamalama. Fai ma le malalamala le Faamasinoga aua a fai pogisa loa, e ga o faaiuga piopio e sau ai”.
According to the outgoing Prime Minister, Parliament is the higher of the three pillars of Samoa’s Government, and the Court has failed to interpret the Laws directed by Parliament.
“They have failed to listen and obey Parliament, the Supreme law making body of this nation”.
“Ua le faalogo ma usitai i le Palemene..”
“These decisions are all unlawful, unconstitutional and lacking integrity, even the one handed down last Friday”, said Tuilaepa.
Hon Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi whose HRPP party has been in power for 40 years and himself Prime Minister for 23 years says his party has now moved out, and allowed FAST to move in because they refuse to take part in the situation of darkness that Samoa is now in, adding they also left because of what the international community would think of Samoa if they did not.
“But we will be looking to correct this illegal situation and put Samoa back to what it should be; and you, you should not let this linger (aua le tuufaua)”, he challenged the matai from the Big Island of Savaii, where FAST won 15 of the 20 parliamentary seats.
According to Tuilaepa, HRPP won the general election with 25 seats, while FAST came second with 24, while Independents came third with 2 seats.
“HRPP are God’s chosen, and we will not be afraid to speak that truth”, he said.
“O le HRPP na tofia e Le Atua ma e matou te le fefefe e tautala i le amiotonu”.
Last Friday a judgment handed down by the Court of Appeal declared the newly established FAST political party had the majority of 26 out of the 51 territorial constituents represented in Samoa’s Legislative Assembly.
Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese with Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa and Justice Tafaoimalo Tologata Leilani Tuala-Warren put an end to Samoa’s political crisis by declaring the swearing-in of 26 FAST MPs elected at the April 9th general election, as having satisfied all the requirements of the Constitution.
Their Honours further endorsed the venue of the swearing in, being under a tent outside a locked Parliament House.
“We consider the important purpose behind convening of Parliament should not be defeated by an inconvenient or unattractive or even undignified venue, because someone deliberately denied access to Parliament.”
The Court of Appeal further declared the Head of State did not carry out his Constitutional powers to convene Parliament within 45 days of a general election. The Court stated that the Heads of Government such as the Speaker, Chief Justice and Prime Minister whom the Head of State swears in, make their oaths to God and not to the Head of State. The Court concluded that the Head of State’s role is therefore ceremonial and if he fails to carry it out as he has done so this year, then someone else can do it to ensure Samoa has a functioning government following a general election. The Court declared Matafeo George Latu acting as a Notary Public as having satisfied this requirement on that day.
“For the avoidance of doubt this means that there has been lawful government in Samoa since 24 May 2021, and that lawful government is the FAST party which holds the majority of the seats in Parliament”, states the Court of Appeal decision.
“The Supreme Court is the guardian of the Constitution and will continue to protect and maintain the rule of law and democracy under the Supreme law”, reads the judgment.
However Tuilaepa told the matai present at Petesa during a traditional oratory exchange which has been widely publicised on social media, that a Government chosen by unlawful means, will once again, be removed by God.
“O le Malo na tofia i auala lē amiotonu, e toe aveese foi e Le Atua, e iai lava auala a Le Atua e faatino ai”.
He hit back saying the members of Samoa’s Judiciary acted like children (faakamaiki), and cannot deliver good decisions because they have no experience or depth of understanding (faaiuga faakamaiki, faamasigo e lē lava le poko masagi).
Tuilaepa said the Judgment of the Court of Appeal was unlawful, unconstitutional, childish and lacking integrity (pi’opi’o).
“Not only that, we have been removed because of the unjust judgments of the Court,” he said.
“Ua ave’esea i matou ona o fa’ai’uga lē amiotonu a le fa’amasinoga”.
“What kind of a decision endorses an undignified swearing in where a lawyer couple has been granted permission to carry out duties of the Head of State and the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly in a ceremony held under a tent,” he yelled.
Tuilaepa once again names Latu Law, the firm of naming partners Matafeo George Latu and former Samoa Attorney General Taulapapa Brenda Heather Latu, who were instrumental in carrying out the swearing-in ceremony on the afternoon of Monday 24th May 2021; the 45th day after Samoa’s general election.
The Court of Appeal judgement that ultimately ousted the Caretaker government reads, “The facts of this case are that when the Clerk did not answer his name because he had gone home, Ms Heather Latu formerly Samoa’s longest serving Attorney General was appointed the Acting Clerk. Ms Heather Latu then moved for the swearing in of Mr Papalii who had been moved by FAST to be the Speaker..”
Tuilaepa, however, has accused the Judiciary of being bias towards FAST, alleging Court decisions have been against the HRPP party in their other cases including petitions.
“I want to clarify that our MP’s have been victimised by the Court in it’s recent decisions, and also favouring the other party”, said Tuilaepa.
Tuilaepa accuses the Court of silencing some of their witnesses in Court proceedings for election petitions and alleges, as also stated in a formal HRPP complaint to the Judicial Service Commission, that the Court have colluded to oust the legally established Caretaker government.
“It’s so sad to see all these unconstitutional and corrupt decisions and judgments by the Court and it’s something that we will fight in the future to correct.”
He said HRPP will now work to re-establish the Head of State’s powers and bring Samoa “out of the darkness” it is now under.
“These decisions question the powers and God-given duties of the honourable Head of State of Samoa,” he said.
“O le a matou taumafai e toe fa’afo’i le Tulafono Fa’avae lea i le mea sa iai, lea ua fa’aleagaina i faiga pi’opi’o ma i’uga le fa’avaea nei mai le Fa’amasinoga.”
The meeting with matai who had come to offer their support to HRPP ended with a cultural exchange of food and money, and a song of encouragement the matai and taulelea had written for Tuilaepa and HRPP.