Samoa PM says no one is stopping any Samoan eligible to vote
Apia, SAMOA — Contrary to renewed calls to allow Samoans residing overseas to vote in General Elections, government under no circumstance is stopping any Samoan eligible to vote to be part of the democratic election process, says Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi. Opening the electoral rolls for overseas Samoans to cast their ballots as absentee voters during general elections has resurfaced again with Former Prime Minister and Ex-Opposition Leader Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi urging Government to amend the electoral laws to this effect. But the Prime Minister is baffled with the narrow minded thinking by the former PM.
“Lest Tupua forgets, this has been a long standing issue which has been duly addressed by Parliament with amendments to the Electoral Act based on recommendations from Commission of Inquiries established law after every General Elections,” responded the Prime Minister. “And among those amendments ensures the right for all Samoan eligible to vote to exercise that right without restrains,” said Tuilaepa. “One mandate approved by Parliament is for all Samoans to satisfy the three year residency requirement to be eligible to vote or run as an election candidate. “The second is for all election candidates to serve his constituency for three years (monotaga) to be eligible to participate in general elections. “This amendment was deliberately included to personify our respect to our resident matais serving their respective villages and constituency day in and day out. “The greatest insult of all time to our resident Samoan matais is for a candidate who has never provided service or contributed a sene to the village and for thw electoral developments and welfare to pop up from nowhere and claim his right as an election candidate.
“Is he (Tui Atua) really willing to take that gamble and insult our resident serving matais? “Is he (Tui Atua) prioritizing the rights of Samoans overseas over our residents who are toiling daily to ensure our survival and our people’s daily needs are met? “To my political opposites, I say this again, Ole ala ile pule ole Tautua. (The way to Leadership is through Service). On that note, the Prime Minister says that he will not set any precedent when it comes to absentee voting. “The same issue was presented to past Prime Ministers and they remain firm. “And who am I a meager servant of the people to change that.”
Tuilaepa is also aware that the Tuiatua is “inciting false hope by provoking the emotions of the voters” using private remittances as an argument to introduce absentee voting. “It’s no secret that private remittances play a pivotal role in the development of our country. “But Tupua suddenly forgets or oblivious to the fact the remittances are a direct cash injection to families and relatives here,” said Tuilaepa. “And the truth of the matter is our families here are reaping the fruits of their overseas relatives’ hard labour from their private remittances and we acknowledge their valuable contribution.
“Remitttances is the life line for families and used for their faalavelaves, to build new homes, buy cars, pay for their day to day necessities and even pay for their children’s education. “And government is more than appreciative of that fact. “For Tui Atua to play with the emotions of voters is a conniving ploy, one of his well known political tactic. “For the record,” concluded the Prime Minister. “Your government is not restraining any Samoan from voting or running in general elections. “That is the constitutional right of Samoans that cannot and is not taken for granted by my administration.”