Leaders in Ta'u and Faleasao object to Logoai's selection as senator
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Traditional leaders of Ta’u and Faleasao, Manu’a have called on Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie to deny the admission of High Talking Chief Logoai Siaki Logoai as the new senator for Manu’a #1 and have alleged that the selection of the retired judge was not in accordance with the Constitution and the law.
Logoai is scheduled to be sworn-in at 8:30 a.m next Monday. This comes after Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Mauga T. Asuega informed Gaoteote of Manu’a #1 — comprising Ta’u, Fitiuta, and Faleasao — selecting Logoai to fill the unexpired term of the late Paramount Chief, Galea’i Moaali’itele Tu’ufuli, who passed away last October.
(See Samoa News Jan. 7th edition for details.)
TA'U TRADITIONAL LEADERS
In a Jan. 10th letter, written in Samoan and signed by “Ali’i ma Faipule o Ta’u” (traditional leaders), Gaoteote was informed that there was never a county council meeting called for Faleasao, Ta’u and Fitiuta to select Logoai. Additionally, Ta’u was never informed of any meeting for the district (Itumalo) for the selection process, and they are not aware of how Logoai was selected.
Ta’u traditional leaders claim that the selection of Logoai was not done by Manu’a #1 in accordance with the law and Constitution. They noted that “Malaetele” — on Ta'u village — is the traditional meeting ground for such a selection.
According to the letter, it was the chiefs of Fitiuta who selected Logoai. Additionally, the signatures of two Ta’u traditional leaders — Fa’amausili and Leasau — on the certification form sent to the Secretary of Samoan Affairs and Gaoteote, certifying Logoai's selection, was made on their own, without a consensus of the “Faletolu” — referring to Ta’u, Faleasao, and Fitiuta.
Ta’u traditional leaders are praying that Gaoteote and the Senate do not accept Logoai’s selection for the vacant seat. They are requesting that the “Faletolu” be allowed to select a new senator in accordance with the law and Constitution.
The letter states that the last meeting at Malaetele was held Jan. 5, 2019 which Sen. Nuanuaolefegaiga Saoluaga Nua attended, and the senator is aware of the wishes of the “Faletolu”.
Ta’u leaders also shared with Gaoteote that High Talking Chief, Tauese V. Sunia, of Ta’u was submitting additional information — in writing — on the matter.
On behalf of the Ta’u County Council, Tauese yesterday shared, in writing with Samoa News, what he says “are the facts”.
First, he said, the Ta’u village council had no say and role in the selection of Logoai. He noted that the signatures of the two Ta’u chiefs on the Samoan Affairs form presented to the Senate, validating the selection process, “DO NOT represent the interest of the village of Ta’u and constituents. The matter never went through the proper means, as required by law.”
Second, “there was never a notification for a district meeting given to our village of Ta’u to select a replacement” for Galea'i “as the procedures normally call for,” Tauese continued. “Third, Ta’u village DO NOT support the selection of Logoai Siaki Logoai to occupy the vacated seat.”
“We as a village believe that proper procedures and requirements for selection must be adhered to,” said Tauese on behalf of the Ta’u County Council. That is the responsibility of the Office of Samoan Affairs, to ensure compliance and verify the legitimacy of the process.
“Ignoring our village’s role in the selection process only raises questions as to the intention and motive — of those involved — in bypassing key requirements for the selection. NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW – NO ONE,” he said. “Our democratic form of government and statutes call for well-established rules, policies and procedures to eliminate any ambiguity with such process guaranteeing fairness and justice for all parties involved. “
“After all, the interest of the people of Manu’a District No.1 is at stake. The question is ‘if not now, then when?’ This sort of practice must come to a stop and the village of Ta’u must not be ignored,” he said.
Tauese also shared with Samoa News his own personal opinion on the matter, which has already become an issue of debate and disagreement amongst Manu’a residents, as well as onlookers.
“I believe what is in jeopardy here is the key requirement for the selection of senators — that is to be done ‘traditionally’,” Tauese said. “I as an American Samoan and especially a matai, do take pride in the uniqueness of our system with the vision and decision of our forefathers to incorporate traditional ways as a requirement of the selection process.”
“The fact that this very aspect was missing from the selection of Logoai only adds value to the opinion of many for senators to be elected,” Tauese noted.
FALEASAO TRADITIONAL LEADERS
Pursuant to the local Constitution and law, “we the chiefs and village councils of senatorial district No.1, do hereby submit this letter of objection to the admission and swearing in of chief Logoai Siaki,” says a Jan. 8th letter to Gaoteote from High Chief Solia Mutini, who signed the letter as “Ali’i ole Gafa, Faleasao Chief Council”.
When Galea'i passed away, “our district realized that we had to select his replacement,” the letter continues. “We had hoped that a meeting of the council of chiefs for the district would be called; however, we were all taken by surprise when it was announced that chief Logoai had been selected.”
“This news came as a disappointment to all of us, as the law requires that the selection of a replacement senator was to be made by the consensus of the district matais and certified by the county chiefs. This was not the case,” the letter points out.
“Rather than following village and legal protocols,” the letter claims that “a few chiefs took it upon themselves to make the selection of chief Logoai as the replacement senator, and therefore excluding the majority of us from the process, which included the county chief.
“We believe that a replacement senator must be appointed, but it must be done according to tradition and the law, for it is the only way to maintain peace and harmony within our district,” the letter states.
It further claims that “Logoai and his supporters have disposed of our rights as chiefs of the district when they unilaterally made the decision for all of us.”
“We ask that you deny the admission of chief Logoai or any other individual claiming to be the replacement senator, until the chiefs of our counties have properly discussed and appointed a capable replacement for chief Galea'i."