Associate Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Niuava Eti Malolo says the “changes” in the controversial Lands and Title bills with four different copies are not “typing errors”.
He made the claims in Parliament this morning during the deliberation of the Special Inquiry Parliamentary Committee report regarding the different copies of the bills that seek to revamp the Judiciary as a whole.
Chairman of the Committee, Deputy Speaker Mulipola Aloitafua Mulipola on Tuesday confirmed the issues raised by the Attorney General that there are four different versions of the two Acts, as reviewed referring to the Land and Titles Act 2020 and the Constitution Amendment Act 2020.
Niuava blamed the former Minister of the Office of the Legislative Assembly, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi for this oversight that led to the different copies.
Adding that if the bills had gone through the normal procedure the “changes” would have been flagged.
Member of Parliament Peseta Vaifou intervened and said the bills were passed near the end of their Parliamentary term and “there was not enough time” to bring forth changes back to Parliament.
This did not sit well with Niuava who questioned as to why the previous Government did not wait and allow these bills to go through the process “instead they rushed the passing of the bills, yet these bills have huge impact on the operation of the judiciary and lands and titles cases involving members of the public.
“This clearly shows the lack of accountability to Parliament, by rushing these measures to be approved without check and balance and following the process.
It’s an act of recklessness,” said the Associate Minister.
Adding that he accepts the recommendations by the Committee to take appropriate actions.
Chairman of the Committee Mulipola noted that after many months of public consultations, the Bills were still incomplete and that different versions of the Acts would lead to differences in interpretations.
According to the Special Committee’s report, their investigations uncovered that the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly (OCLA) did not follow the process of signing the Certificate of Amendment.
The Office used the Certificate of Amendment that was signed on the 5th of January 2021 to make the changes later on. Adding that the Committee found in its investigation that there were certain individuals who wanted to insert amendments that were not passed in Parliament.
The Committee recommended that this report be approved by the Parliament, the immediate disposal of these Acts; and also recommended those affected in the changing of these Acts unlawfully be referred to AG and Police for further investigation.