No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Samoa


To recap … following the general election the HRP Party emerged with just 25 seats (despite winning 55% of the vote) while the FAST Party managed 26 seats (with 37% of the vote) after the one independent member sided with them.

The Samoan electoral commission subsequently determined that, with women comprising 9.8 per cent of the elected members, the results did not fulfill a constitutional provision which required that at least 10 per cent of seats be held by women. As a result, an additional female candidate being the highest polling unsuccessful female candidate was declared elected, increasing the parliament’s membership to 52 and the HRPP’s seat total to 26. Result … deadlock.

Samoa’s Supreme Court later annulled the decision of the electoral commission as well as ruling that the call by the countries (outgoing) Prime Minister for fresh elections was unconstitutional. It ordered parliament to be convened today (Monday) to allow members to be sworn in and a new government formed. On Saturday Samoa’s Head of State issued a statement cancelling today’s sitting and then left for his home village saying that he would give his reasons for that decision at a later date. On Sunday Samoa’s Supreme Court in an emergency sitting ruled unanimously against the Head of State’s decision. Later that day Parliament’s (outgoing) Speaker (a HRPP member) refused to convene parliament saying he took his orders from the Head of State and not from the Supreme Court.

Seen from afar and Samoa would appear to be in the throes of a constitutional crisis. I do however caution against looking at what’s happening through a New Zealand (or Palagi) lens. In that context I thought the comment from Kevin O’Brien responding to DPF’s post on the matter over at Kiwiblog to be both instructive and helpful in forming and opinion on what’s happening. I am reproducing that comment below ….

Keep well out. This is a title fight. I worked at the top of their govt level for 7 years.

Samoa works first to f’a’asamoa, “The Samoan Way”. Law is subsidiary. A higher ranking title out-talks a lesser one. Titles are largely elective but some may have traditional family associations. Some are regional and others ancient with international boundaries.

Samoa works by consensus and does it very well. Some titles are derived from others and each carries economic rights and obligations. There is an embedded social security system. People who can are expected to work and others will be provided for out of the wealth entrusted to title holders. There is a hierarchy of these too so a request to have a Court fine paid can be spread throughout the whole country and may even reach NZ or the USA.

The situation at present is novel. The PM Sailele has a lesser ranking regional title, no doubt conferred because he was an excellent Accountant with a NZL MA and Samoan professional qualifications. Now, his opponent has an ultra high Mataafa title, way outranking him. Even higher voices have intervened. The Supreme Court is an anomalous intermediary. The ruling Heads of State have settled these matters previously. The Supreme Court would not be expected to deal with these topmost governance title issues, more likely Public Service employments matters.

No doubt there are current issues and these may have inspired the new party. Samoa has functioned as a single party State as the Samoan way achieves solutions by agreement among the Chiefly title holders which we are not accustomed to. The Samoan Parliament has functioned that way even dealing with complex tax law. The problem now seem to be that someone is bucking the system. That will be sorted out fa’asamoa. The name of the country Samoa itself speaks of the ancient foundations it has in the Pacific.

We are best to pay our due respects to whoever emerges as the new PM. We need to maintain our good relations and not endeavour to make them a compliant satellite. Respect begets respect.

Written by The Veteran

May 24, 2021 at 1:15 pm

Posted in New Zealand

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With their Supreme Court giving the green light to Fiame Naomi Maatafa, head of the FAST (Faith in the One True God) Party, to form a new government ending four decades of rule by the HRP (Human Rights Protection) Party. It will be a test of the countries political maturity having a female Prime Minister in a patriarchal society especially given that the HRPP polled 55.38% of the vote against 36.5% for the FAST Party.

The fact that FAST won a majority of the seats (including the one Independent MP who sided with them) was due to the electoral quirk that saw the HRPP stand multiple candidates in many constituencies, (supposedly providing a certain freedom of choice) which allowed the FAST Party candidate to come through the middle.

Clearly the HRPP saw themselves as invincible and governing as of right with the Prime Minister describing himself as ‘appointed by God’. Clearly that arrogance led to their electoral downfall exacerbated by a general mood of dissatisfaction that the HRPP was too heavily influenced by the ‘elites’ and tolerated a degree of corruption.

Fiame Maatafa. daughter of Samoa’s first Prime Minister, was the Deputy Prime Minister when she split from the HRPP last year after opposing changes to the countries constitution and judicial system which would have placed further power in the hands of the Executive.

One suspects she will have her work cut out with only a single seat majority in Parliament. The HRPP is down but by no means out and won’t make life easy for her. But she is one tough lady with a pedigree of service to Samoa. I wish her well.

For the record both the Vet and Mrs Vet have had a long association with Samoa. Laupepa Malietoa, son of Samoa’s paramount chief, was a classmate of mine at Portsea Officer Cadet School in Australia and was a groomsman at our wedding in Terendak, Malaysia. We have visited the country often and were on the last plane out of Samoa before the lock-down last March.

Written by The Veteran

May 19, 2021 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Pacific Islands

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Are we entitled to ask why is the Gummit so focused on opening the border with Oz where there are continuing numbers of  Covit-19 infections (and, by extension, Israel FFS) while Samoa and the Cook Islands (no infections ever), countries with whom we supposedly enjoy a special relationship and who are totally dependent on tourism, remain off the table.

So much for looking after our own.

Just askin.

Written by The Veteran

May 31, 2020 at 7:54 am

Posted in New Zealand

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Samoa where the government, ever fearful of who happened back in 1919 with the Spanish flu and last year the measles outbreak with 5,707 cases and 83 deaths (now accepted as having been imported from NZL) fresh on their minds, went in early and hard with its boarder controls.    The country remains in partial lock-down with schools closed and gatherings of more than five persons banned.   However supermarkets, shops and markets remain open from 6.00 am to 4.00 pm.   Result so far … no confirmed cases of Covid-19.

And New Zealand where the government went in late and soft in managing its boarders with the country now in total lock-down.   Virtually all commerce has ground to a halt.   Result so far … 1,330 Covid-19 cases and four deaths.

And to answer the screams of outrage likely to issue forth from the ‘Jacinda can do no wrong’ camp I say this … the facts dear boy, the facts, look at the facts.

Written by The Veteran

April 13, 2020 at 12:33 am

Posted in New Zealand

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Vet and Mrs Vet are off to Samoa in the next couple of days … well maybe.   The Samoan government has just announced it is restricting flights from NZL in an attempt to isolate Samoa from the Coronavirus.

Not an overly rationale decision; Samoa can’t isolate itself from the world unless they’re  prepared to seal off their borders completely,   But I do understand the decision … I have previously blogged on the deep level of distrust that exists between Samoa and New Zealand borne out of the gross incompetence of the then NZL colonial administration in relation to their handling of the 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic and latterly the export of measles from NZL to Samoa last year which, to date, has resulted in 79 deaths with 2.75% of the population catching the disease.

If ever there was a case of perception trumping (bad word) reality the decision to cut down on flights to/from Samoa is a case in point.

Thank God for travel insurance taken out four months ago.

And we won’t even talk about the panic being exhibited by some Aucklanders in besieging Supermarkets and stocking up on ‘essential’ supplies so called … effing Jaffas.

Written by The Veteran

February 29, 2020 at 7:28 am

Posted in New Zealand

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