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Criticism continues to grow over Samoa govt's plan for customary lands

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi [SN file photo]

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is a man brimming with confidence.

As his critics over the Government’s plan for customary lands grow to include the former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Prime Minister Tuilaepa remains unfazed.

He is steadfast that there is nothing for Samoa to be concerned about in as far as the Land Titles Registration Act (L.T.R.A.) 2008 is concerned.

Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, Tuilaepa said someone had warned him he was playing with fire when Cabinet considered the L.T.R.A. some time ago. 

 “Someone told me that I was playing with fire,” Tuilaepa said. 

“I laughed and I said I’m the type of person that when I see smoke, I’d actually like to place my finger on it to see if there is fire and whether I will get burnt. And you know I have never been burnt.”

The Prime Minister said the Government’s critics over L.T.R.A. are all smoke.

Asked about concerns expressed by the former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua in relation to L.T.R.A, Tuilaepa was dismissive.

“Who is the stinking pig (pua’a elo) who would force the Head of State to sign any bill?” 

According to Tuilaepa, a Land Committee was selected which was spearheaded by the late Reverend Elder Oka Fauolo to hold consultations with villages about the issue.

Tuilaepa added that the late Rev. Faulolo was an intelligent, honest and straightforward person. 

“He never shied away from speaking his mind to me,” said Tuilaepa. 

The consultation, he added, lasted for two years before a Commission made their recommendation to Cabinet to go through with L.T.R.A.

After the bill was tabled, it was in Parliament for six months, Tuilaepa said. Even the Opposition party at the time endorsed it.

This was before the Head of State at the time signed it.

 “Our Head of State is our leader. He holds the highest rank in all of Samoa. All of Cabinet papers go through to him and he has the chance to make recommendations, seek an explanation and we would sit down and review it over coffee.”

Tuilaepa said reports quoting the former Head of State saying he was under pressure are wrong.

 “Who is the stinking pig that will dare question the Head of State?” 

Tuilaepa said His Highness Tui Atua is more than welcomed to contact him directly if he has any concerns about the L.T.R.A. 2008.

The Prime Minister added that the Executive Director of the Samoa Law Reform Commission (S.L.R.C.), Telei'ai Dr. Lalotoa Mulitalo Seumanutafa, has already addressed the issues raised about the L.T.R.A.

Read more at Samoa Observer