Committee’s recommendations is suitable given the gravity of the complaint: Chairman


Despite a plea from senior members of the Human Rights Protection Party, former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi and Party secretary Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi for a chance to serve, a secret ballot vote last night, resulted in their suspension for two years. 

This is in line with the recommendations of the Privileges and Ethics Committee. 

Chairman of the Privilege Committee, Minister of Health, Valasi Tafito Selesele motioned for the Assembly to approve the report of the Privilege and Ethics Committee on the Official Complaint by the Deputy Prime Minister against Tuilaepa and Leala, which was seconded and approved. 

The Chairman pointed out the Court’s ruling which resulted in the Privilege Committee revisiting this and the Committee’s intention is to provide a recommendation they believe is suitable given the gravity of the complaint. 

Valasi explained that in August the Court ruled that Tuilaepa and Leala’s rights were violated as their initial indefinite suspension was deliberated yet they were absent and this is in violation of the Constitution of Samoa. 

Furthermore, the court ruled that there should be a timeframe regarding the Member’s suspension, hence the Committee’s action to put a timeframe on the length of the suspension and this is to set precedence to ensure such issues will not happen again. 

Valasi said Tuilaepa and Leala were found guilty of contempt of court; therefore, the Committee’s recommendations were based on the offence and actions of the senior HRPP members. 

Valasi outlined the Privileges and Ethics Committee’s recommendations suspend Tuilaepa and Leala from the Assembly for a period of 24 months; cease their entitlements as Members of Parliament through the suspension period; allow them to address Parliament and they are prohibited to enter Parliament precincts, take part in any Parliamentary Committee. 

Valasi also pointed out that some of the MP’s did not sign off on the Committee Report as they were exercising their rights as Members of Parliament.

Former Prime Minister Tuilaepa took the floor and explained the court was their only avenue to seek justice, hence filing their claims with the Judiciary and the court ruled in their favour. 

He said they have suffered the consequences of their actions, and they have been “humiliated when they were suspended indefinitely”. 

Tuilaepa said the initial ruling from Parliament was accompanied by demeaning comments which are insulting. He said the appropriate suspension should have been not more than five months and that no one should die twice. 

Tuilaepa said he received a letter from the Committee Chair outlining the Committee’s recommendations for their suspension of 24 months.

Tuilaepa concluded by reminding Parliament that respect is accorded between leaders of the Country. 

Lealailepule also addressed Parliament and said FAST has the upper hand as they have numbers to make rulings. 

He said after a second meeting with the Privileges Committee, he assumed that Committee has changed its ways and it is time to move forward, there are other pressing issues at hand other than this matter that the governing party should focus on. 

Leala cited that Samoa’s democratic process is triangular and while the rule of man has been upheld what about God’s law, our culture and traditions of forgiveness? 

The Senior MP then pointed to the service by Tuilaepa that led the country for over 20 years. He commended Tuilaepa for his patience and service to Samoa. 

The decision was rendered in a secret ballot vote whereas 29 Members of Parliament supported the recommendation by the Committee while 19 voted against it. 

Speaker of the House Li’o Papalii Taeu Masipa’u made the announcement at the conclusion of Parliament this evening. 

“The decision is effective immediately as per standing orders,” said the Speaker of the House. HRPP leader Tuilaepa and party secretary Lealailepule were asked to leave the Parliament.