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Samoa PM says lands and titles legislation is at request of those affected

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi
Gov’t of Samoa Savali Newspaper

Apia, SAMOA — The Samoa Government is shouldering the blame for the three Lands and Titles Court legislative measures under scrutiny, says Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.

 “It’s a campaign platform leading up to the General Elections next year,” he continued. In an exclusive interview, the Prime Minister explained that it’s the families and matais grave concerns, which prompted the L.T.C. law amendments.

 “The amendments are the Government’s response to the wishes of those affected,” he added.

To set the record straight, the Prime Minister saod Government since 2009 was approached by families to address a large number of questionable decisions by the Lands and Titles Court. And in 2016 Government after the country’s historical two-thirds majority re-election endorsement, Government could no longer remain silent by ignoring the pressures from the family’s audible complaints.

 “A Special Parliament Commission of Inquiry was immediately enacted in 2016 which recommended the amendments now under review after the Committee’s report with recommendations was tabled and approved by Parliament,” he reminisced.  

That review according to Tuilaepa found a range of chronicle discrepancies, which included 400 pending and outstanding LTC Court appeals decisions.

 “A great deal of these appeals were not addressed, some for years.  In in some cases, the appellants or plaintiffs had passed away,” he added. And he says that that critics have again “jumped the gun” with their conclusions to condemn the bills, when it fact, the three legislations are not final until the due diligent process is completed.

Still under public scrutiny the Parliamentary Committee, assigned exclusively to exhaust the process to review the three legislative measures will table the report with amendments, for final approval by Parliament as mandated by law.

 “The process is far from over,” he reiterated. To that extend, the Prime Minister is urging the public to register any proposed changes with the Parliamentary Committee. For example it’s the family’s prerogative to disagree with the proposed change to limit the number of sa’o and can register their views with the Parliamentary Committee.

 “Certain extended families are disappointed with their sa’os’ abuse of privilege as a family leader using her or his position for personal financial gains without the family’s consent,” said the Prime Minister.

Also, government is not regulating or removing the family’s constitutional right to review, select and appoint their own respective sa’os to lead their families. The amendment for community rights over individual rights is also an issue.

“Unlike the status quo, both the individual right of a single person and community rights representing the Pulega a Alii ma Faipule and matais will be recognized equally by the court, if the amendments become law,” Tuilaepa explained.

“Only a small percentage of the uninformed public coupled by a deliberate and visible band of obsessed political critics and observers desperate to overthrow the government are condemning the legislations,” he concluded.