Samoa's A.G. rejects ‘threat’ to customary land

Attorney General Aumua Ming Leung Wai has assured Samoa there is “no threat to the ownership of customary land.”

He has also reiterated the Government’s position over the leasing of such land, saying the idea is so that customary land can be “utilised for the benefit of our people but in a manner where ownership of such land remains” with them.

The Attorney General makes the point in response to questions from the Samoa Observer over Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi's letter to the banks.

The letter, dated 17 September 2013, was the subject of a story titled “P.M. demands ‘response’” published on Tuesday’s Samoa Observer.

With “Registration of mortgage over leases of Customary land” as the subject matter, the Prime Minister demanded a response from the banks to an earlier letter he wrote to them about the issue.

“There is only one constitutionally established legal counsel that the Independent State of Samoa recognizes on all matters pertaining to the correct interpretation of the Constitution of Samoa, and that is the opinion of the Attorney General in Office,” the letter reads.

“Any other legal opinion which differs from the Attorney General’s opinion is rubbish.”

Further, Tuilaepa cautions against the banks obtaining a “flawed opinion” on the subject matter.

“This Government cannot accept a situation where the development of this country via the leasing of its customary lands is being jeopardized because its Financial Institutions have erroneously adopted a flawed opinion despite the overwhelming evidence to support the Attorney General’s opinion.”

“There are many options open to Government to achieve the overarching goal for which the Alienation of Land 1965 was amended, but before we do so, we welcome your reactions.”

In his email yesterday, Aumua says: “My opinion is that a mortgage over a lease of customary land is possible.”


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