Samoa’s Head of State or is it the H.R.P.P’s Head of State?

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Amendments to the role of Head of State and functions of the Office have become so commonplace in Samoa that nothing surprises us anymore. 

Depending on what suits the mood of the Government on any given day, the countless amendments to the Constitution passed by Parliament over the years are shameful.

If anything, these changes have only reduced the sanctity of the Office so that today, the mana the once sacred position once had has been eroded so much we get the feeling it will soon become just another H.R.P.P. political appointment, if that isn’t the case already. 

Which is the irony of what is happening in Samoa today, so many changes yet many of them seem so unnecessary. Take the role of the Head of State for instance. In the past few years, we’ve lost count of how many times this Government has amended the Constitution in relation to the role.

Can you imagine how the person occupying the role must be feeling? Imagine if that were you, how would you feel?

Last week, more amendments popped up under the guise of the Government moving to make the Office a lot “more professional.” The Head of State Amendment Bill 2018 seeks to bring the entitlements and salaries of the Head of State and members of the Council of Deputy to be in line with the public service salary scale.

According to Tuilaepa, a lot of articles in the Constitution in relation to the Head of State no longer apply which is why the amendments are necessary. 

“A lot has changed and now the tenure is limited to five years. This means the conditions at the time were specifically for first two Heads of States, Tupua and Malietoa. This is why we are moving to amend the Act.”

He made it clear that anyone is entitled to become the Head of State now, as long as they are a chief and elected by Members of Parliament. 

The amendments also touch on how to address the Head of State. It proposes that instead of “His Highness,” it should be the “Afioga i le Ao o le Malo.” The same goes for the Masiofo.

In Parliament, Member of Parliament for Vaimauga Sasa’e, Sulamanaia Tauiliili Tuivasa, objected.

“The use of the Afioga i le Ao o le Malo is a bit shallow. It does not reflect the sacredness of the title as used before with His Highness,” he said.

Sulamanaia also took issue with the plan for the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to administer the affairs of the Head of State’s Office.

“The Head of State is appointed by Parliament,” said Sulumanaia. “Then there are Cabinet Ministers who appoint their own secretaries. Why can’t the Head of State appoint his own secretary?”

At that point, Tuilaepa intervened and said the executive are paying for the salaries, therefore the selection must come from them. 

So let’s just get this right. This is not really about making the office more professional, is it? The truth is that it is all about money, it’s all about power and who wields it.

Ladies and gentlemen, we get the feeling that certain people in positions of power and influence want to erase everything in our history so that they create a new legacy for themselves. One defined by greed, money and lust for more power. The question is that, are all these changes really necessary? Would someone die in Samoa if these changes to the role and Office of Head of State are not made? The answer is an emphatic no. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. It’s that simple.

Now think of the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Think of it as the convention that holds the wisdom and dreams of both our forebears and our children to come. The reality today is that our forefathers who shed their blood in fighting for our independence and eventually drafted the original Constitution would probably not even recognise what has become of it today. Which is a real tragedy.

We’ve always maintained that leaders of today must tread carefully every time they amend the Constitution. They are medalling with the hopes, dreams and the vision our forebears had for this nation. And in doing so, they are taking this country down a path our forefathers did not want. 

Look at Samoa today, people are beginning everywhere. Why are so many children hustling on the streets day and night? Are they there by choice? Or are they and their families that desperate? What would our forefathers say about this? Did they envision that Samoa would one day be like this?

Now what’s the point of political independence when our Government is so desperate it is prepared to sing any country’s tune for the sake of monies, aid and hand outs?

Getting back to the issue of the Head of State, here’s an idea. Since Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s government just can’t stop meddling with the once sacred office of the Head of State, they should come up with one supreme law to end all madness.

Since we see the Government moving to make the role nothing more than a “government appointment,” which “anybody” can occupy, why don’t we run like any other political role and take a vote on it every five years?

We could even advertise it in Samoa and on social media to seek the best candidates and have them interviewed by the Prime Minister and his group. 

That way, they can even change the name the title of the position from the Head of State of Samoa to the Head of State of the H.R.P.P. 

What do you think? 

Share your thoughts with us.

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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