SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE CHANGES BROUGHT UP IN SESSION
During the Senate’s second day of the regular session, Senate Vice President Tulifua Lam Yuen noted the rearranging of the Senate Standing Committees, with Senator Velega Savali who was chairman of the ASPA Committee, being replaced by Senator Levu Solaita.
Velega is now the chairman for the Government Operations Committee.
Tulifua said Senator Velega should remain as the ASPA committee chairman, since he knows everything regarding ASPA’s budget, the increasing high cost of electricity and the issues surrounding ASPA and given the limited time.
Senator Levu responded that he’s new in the Senate and thanked the Sen. Tulifua for accepting him as Senator.
“I came to work and assist in whatever way I can. Levu did not come to change any laws, I came to help,” he said, adding that he agrees with the Vice President to allow Senator Velega to remain as Chairman of the ASPA Committee.
Senator Solaita said whatever committee he’s assigned to work with, he’ll carry out his duties wholeheartedly.
The Senate President responded by saying that only one person makes changes to the Senate Standing Committee — and that is the president of the Senate.
“First of all, the president does not randomly pick anyone without reviewing their credentials. Let me do my job. Only the president can assign and reassign anyone to the Senate Standing Committees.”
The Senate President noted that when he sees a change is to be made he’ll do it and also, this is an opportunity for new senators to work with the committees.
INFORMATION ABOUT SIC SECRET MEETINGS LEAKING TO PUBLIC
Senator Tulifua also had some advice for the Senate Investigative Committee members, saying “The committee has secret meetings and afterwards — whatever goes on in those meetings — the information leaks out to the public and the campaign committees. However, the information should not be leaking out, unless the SIC are in chambers, then they can reveal the information to the public”.
Tulifua urged the SIC members to be cautious… “It doesn’t matter which committee you’re from — Lolo, Faoa or Afoa — but carry out your duties as SIC members cautiously because your actions have an affect on the Senate.
Senator Lualemaga, who’s the head of the SIC Committee said SIC’s work is ongoing and they are still working at obtaining certain information and still sending out letters. He said that everything is going quite well, but their work is stalled due to the fact that the Fono is back in session.
The Senate President noted that the senators trust the SIC Committee and now the Chairman of the SIC Committee is saying there’s not enough time.
SENATE ISSUES MAY INCLUDE REPEAL OF DEATH PENALTY IN TERRITORY
Responding also to senators comments made on the floor, Gaoteote said there are no issues pertaining to Lolo, Faoa and Afoa in the Senate; and the issues which the Fono should take heed of are the LBJ hospital, the $20 million loan, and ASPA among other important issues.
Samoa News also understands from reliable sources that Governor Togiola Tulafono intends to introduce a bill during this session, which would repeal the death penalty in the territory.
Samoa News reported last month that the governor had asked the Attorney General’s office to withdraw the death penalty stipulation in the case against Siaumau Siaumau Jr., who is accused in the July 2010 shooting death of Police Det. Lt. Liusila Brown and attempted murder of another officer. At the time, Togiola, in his request to the AG’s office, is reported to have said that American Samoa is a Christian country and does not need a death penalty.
Samoa News was also told at the time, by reliable government sources that part of the move to take the death penalty off the table was because of the high cost of prosecuting such a case. In May, Associate Justice Lyle L Richmond and Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr. issued an order approving $260,000 in defense costs, because of the government’s notice of intent to seek the penalty of death in this case.
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION FOR SOTOA
The House of Representatives approved a concurrent resolution conveying the House members’ deepest sympathies and condolences of the Legislature and the people of American Samoa to the Sotoa family on the recent passing of Reverend Uinifareti Rapi Sotoa of Satalo, Falealii, Independent state of Samoa.
The House Concurrent Resolution was introduced by Representative Vailoata Eteuati Amituana’i.
According to the resolution the late Rev. Sotoa paid highest tribute with his service to God, family, country, most notably recognizing him for the designing the American Samoa flag.
According to the concurrent resolution, Rev. Sotoa was born on September 12, 1937 in Matu’u, the son of Paramount Chief Sotoa of Ta’u Manu’a and Fa’ataualofa Soi Talauega.
Rev. Sotoa passed away peacefully at LBJ hospital while surrounded by his family on June 8, 2012.
“At a young age he learned to be responsible, dependable and was respected for his deep love for his family” states the resolution.
“He had a kind and gentle way about him but held firm to his conviction when he disapproved of an issue,” it goes on to say.
Rev. Sotoa attended Marist Brothers School, Samoana High School and Feleti Memorial Teacher Training School. He later attended Mesa College in San Diego and then Central Missouri State College in Warrenburg.
Rev. Sotoa also served in the military for ten years and after an honorable discharge he joined the Malua Theological College in Samoa.
After graduation, Rev. Sotoa served as the minister for the Satapuala CCAS for eight years before he returned home. He then taught at Manu’a High School and was also the vice principal there. Rev. Sotoa also taught at Samoana High School, his alma mater, for over ten years before retiring.
Rev. Sotoa was fluent in many Asian languages, including expert proficiency in Korean and Cantonese.
According to the concurrent resolution while Rev. Sotoa was in high school, his father, who was then Senate President, instructed him to enter a competition designing the American Samoa flag. Rev. Sotoa obeyed his father and drew the flag.
“The blue color signifies the Eastern and Western Districts of Tutuila, and the eagle symbolizes our unity with the United States of America.”
“The fue represents the Samoan orator’s ability to find peaceful compromise when faced with its many challenges and the uatogi — also grasped in the eagle’s talons — symbolizes the strength and courage of the Samoan people to defend themselves when threatened by enemies.
Rev. Sotoa’s design won and his flag is the recognized symbol of the territory. He dedicated the flag to his father and people of American Samoa.
According to the resolution Rev. Sotoa leaves a legacy that not many can claim — “He will forever be remembered whenever we see the American Samoa flag.”