Monday the 24th of May 2021 was the day upon which the wishes of our people, through the ballots which they cast some six weeks ago (on 9 April), were finally honored, notwithstanding every attempt by the Caretaker Government and all the public officeholders (who have failed to perform their functions according to the law) to derail the normal democratic process of elections where the people choose the Government they wish to govern them.
This party, Fa’atuatua I Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi – which translated means ‘Samoa United in Faith’ or FAST party, seeks to govern grounded in our belief in God and the unity which that brings to His believers, and according to the values demanded of such faith.
Our election results were 25 votes each with the other party, and on 21 April the Independent member joined our ranks giving us a majority of 26-25 and ready to form government.
However in the middle of the night before, the Electoral Commissioner advised to appoint an additional Member of Parliament (based on a minimum women provision added to the Constitution in 2016) creating an apparent deadlock of 26-26 votes each.
We challenged the legality of that highly significant yet illegal administrative action (proclaimed by the Head of State) and the night before the hearing, the Head of State issued a Proclamation on 4 May relying upon the ‘so called’ deadlock and declared the results of the election void and calling for new General elections on 21 May.
We challenged both actions and the Supreme Court declared:
1. The additional women action was unlawful
2. The declaration for new elections was also unlawful
3. The 20 May proclamation for Parliament to convene on Monday 24th May was lawful, and attention was directed for the need for this to take place.
Yet another attempt was made on Saturday 22 May to revoke that Order and on Sunday 23rd May (under urgency because of Monday being the day on which Parliament had to convene) the Supreme Court declared that the 22 May revocation was unlawful.
The Convening of Parliament on Monday 24 May was both in accordance with the Constitution, and also the decisions of the country’s Courts. To suggest it was not is consistent with the inability of the Caretaker to either understand or follow the law.
We needed no additional justification to do so.
But the Caretaker, sadly was still not done, and what we all witnessed on Monday morning was perhaps the lowest and most disgraceful action yet, where 26 of the people’s representatives who were declared elected on 16 April by Warrant, our religious and community leaders and the Judiciary, were deliberately locked out of the People’s House to prevent Parliament from convening.
That was the morning after the Clerk had been advised that the Head of State would not be attending, without offering a reason.
That was the morning when the sole Council of Deputy member had advised the deputy Leader and I he was not willing to attend in the Head of State’s stead.
That was also the morning when the Clerk advised those assembled that he and his office had been ordered not to assist or cooperate in any manner, when we had been working together the night before.
Yes it was looking pretty grim by 10.00 am, but the strength of our faith and the prayers of the faithful and our fundamental belief in what was the right thing to do led us pass that enormous assault on the dignity of this country and its people.
So by 5.00pm, we reconvened, and we once again assembled on the sacred grounds of Tiafau (where our forebears are buried), outside the sad lifeless symbol of our democracy standing empty behind us, and the people of this land reclaimed our democracy, reclaimed the 89,000 votes cast by our people, and reclaimed the dignity of our country destroyed in the morning, but reasserted in the afternoon, in the presence of three of the four paramount families whose blood weaves the fabric of this country together, together with our faith leaders, Tumua ma Pule representing our traditional leaders, as well as the members of our community.
Democracy cannot be denied.
Democracy must prevail always.
There can be no exceptions from this fundamental principle and Monday was when the silent suffering masses, who have been subjected to years of abuse and neglect, reasserted their right to have the people they voted for sworn in and taking the leadership from an administration which has lost its love for the people and is unable to accept defeat in the manner of chiefs… malolo fa’atamaali’i - to fall with dignity and with honour in the manner of high chiefs…
The Rule of law was also the foundation for Monday’s swearing in ceremony as all us were acting in accordance with the Constitution, the declarations of the Supreme Court and simply what was right.
The law breaking Caretaker and his weak and complicit officials have abused the privilege of governing to assault the Constitution.
The law breaking Caretaker and his weak and complicit officials have undermined the dignity of this land and all of its people yesterday, and that shame and that stain will be upon their hands forever.
When the arrogant refusal to concede power, a power which is given by the people, becomes a grubby international incident, then our Caretaker has dragged us all to his lowest ebb and he and all his sycophants must go, and go quickly, so we may start to rebuild this tortured land with the talented and exceptional Cabinet Ministers who have agreed to place their full commitment to restoration and revival under my leadership, together with all the other Members of Parliament who represent their people and all those public servants who wish to serve the people and not one man.
We are resilient and we have faith and those are the qualities which will lead us through the long days ahead.
Yes we convened under a tent, as did the children of Israel in their 40 year travail where they worshipped in the tabernacle, and when Jesus was about to be born, Mary and Joseph were locked out from any inns, a humble stable welcomed our Saviour….
‘Needs must when the devil drives….’
The elected Members present at Parliament on Monday, as was their role and duty, and resolved to compensate for the refusal of four public officials to perform their jobs, in order that they and we could follow the law. Regardless of the obstructions placed in our way, we convened the 17th Parliament of the Independent State of Samoa on Monday 24 May 2021.
We await, and are prepared for the next short period of undoubtedly taxing times, but simply ask that you keep the faith…help is on the way. The way of thr rule of law.
Finally, to our religious leaders, we are grateful and humbled for your continued prayers and for uplifting our endeavors to His throne room of Grace.
May God continue to hold our nation and its people in His Hands.
Hon. Fiame Naomi Mataafa
Prime Minister Elect