Samoa’s one-state party Parliament’s half a day session

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Parliament’s session yesterday was quite quick. 

If you blinked you would’ve missed it. That’s not a joke by the way. 

You see after not having a session since June when they only convened to pass the 2018/2019 Budget, if you were hoping for a decent debate on a number of issues and the Bills tabled yesterday, you would have been disappointed. And rightly so. 

After a few long-winded speeches, sometimes full of nonsense, by the usual suspects, Parliament was then adjourned until 18 December 2018. Yes it was that quick.

Now the next sitting is just a couple of days before Christmas. We all know what that means. After a few pleasantries, it will be an opportunity for Members of Parliament to wish everyone merry Christmas and Happy New Year before it’s adjourned again. 

The trend has become quite noticeable during the past few years. 

Looking back at this year, it would be interesting to count the number of days Parliament had met. It would probably not even amount to a month. 

Which is quite telling, isn’t it? We accept that what we have in Samoa today is a one-party state. There is no doubting that. What the ruling Government wants will be done with very little opposition – if any at all. 

But here’s the thing. If Parliament is supposed to be the supreme law making institution on the land, why does it feel like every time they meet, someone is trying to rush everything through as if this most sacred institution merely exists to rubber stamp what the Government of the day wants? 

If that is the case, what’s the point of Parliament? Who needs it anyway? Why doesn’t the Government just pass everything and carry on if they think that’s the direction for Samoa to take? 

That’s certainly what it looks like from the outside. It’s always a rush.

Sometimes it’s almost a joke. 

For those of us who follow the proceedings, every time certain Members of Parliament attempt to speak about important issues, and this includes members of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party who often make some wonderful points, they are quickly reminded to keep their remarks to a minimum. 

Why do they need to keep their remarks to a minimum? 

Someone should remind the Speaker of Parliament that Members of Parliament are representatives elected by their constituents to represent their voices in the House? 

Which means they need to be given time to do just that. However long it takes. Who cares if the opinions are irrelevant and stupid? Even those stupid opinions can contribute to a healthy discussion about issues affecting Samoa today? 

And looking around this country, there are so many issues. From crime, rape, incest, poverty and hardship. Then there is the issue of public servants behaving as if public properties belong to them, abusing their power and positions for greed and gains.  We can go on.

The point is that members of the public should expect transparency and accountability especially from Parliament, when it comes to their sessions.

Voters and constituents deserve better. 

Let’s not forget that the short session yesterday had already been postponed from Tuesday. Why that was done, we don’t know. We should know. We are talking about Parliament, an institution that should feel duty bound to exercise transparency and accountability when it comes to its decision-making.

Interestingly enough, Salega East’s Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, claimed the decision was made to allow Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who was in New York, to return to Samoa. 

Whether that’s true, we don’t know and we will probably never know.

Judging from yesterday’s display though, there was absolutely no need to wait for Prime Minister Tuilaepa. In fact it was the Prime Minister who moved a motion to adjourn the session until December because he had to be somewhere else. 

Well we understand he is a busy man and he had to leave but why did they have to stop Parliament? Which brings us back to a point Olo made last week.

“When we look at this, all members of Parliament are available, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Deputy Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and all Members of Parliament, are all available,” he said.

“The number we have exceeds the number we need for a quorum and therefore the Parliament session should proceed.”

 “Does this mean Tuilaepa does not think his Cabinet as well as Members of Parliament are capable of holding the Parliament session?”

What do you think? A one-state party dominated by a one-man band? 

Write and share your thoughts with us.

Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

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