Quashing New Party Rumors, Samoa MP Remains Loyal To HRRP

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Former Minister of Finance dismisses speculation he’ll split from PM

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 29, 2015) – The Associate Minister of Public Enterprises, Papali’iNiko Lee Hang,is remaining loyal to the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P).

His decision comes amidst rumours that a new political party could be set up before the next General Elections in March 2016.

"I don’t believe in rumours," Papali’i responded yesterday. "They are just rumours to me."

Earlier this year, the Chairman of Parliamentary Finance and Expenditure Committee was publicly reprimanded by the leader of the H.R.P.P and Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, for criticising the government. Papali’i was critical of the government’s handling of the report by the Officers of Parliament Committee. The report confirmed that public servants – including a Cabinet Minister - colluded to defraud public funds at the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C).

Papali’i has been the subject of much speculation about a new party.

But the former Minister of Finance quashed the rumours yesterday.

"I have my own reasons to stay with the H.R.P.P.," Papali’i said.

"That is regardless of what had happened. As of today I’m still H.R.P.P."

Papali’i will be up against several other candidates for the newly established Urban East seat in town. If Papali’i returns next year, it would be his fourth term, some 20 years in the political arena.

Asked for his thoughts in terms of this election, he said the Constitutional amendment to guarantee five women in Parliament will make a difference. He said he hopes all five of them win their seats outright so that they don't enter Parliament using the new law.

"I feel sorry for them," he said."It might come down to a case where they might be attacked by M.P.s on their status of getting there. It will be interesting also to see which constituencies they represent then, especially if the constituency they are running for has already voted in their representative."

"In my opinion, these are some of the things that might embarrass them. They have to be prepared for it."

Papali’i did not deny the fact that the life of a politician means they need money all the time. The expenses start to mount when the elections draw near. "You need to have a lot of money to compete," he said. "Let’s say you would need about $100,000 to do your campaign, to pay for transportation, committees and everything."

"You have to have a lot of money otherwise they won’t support you if you don’t do those things for them. Even after that, you have to present an o’o to thank the constituency for their support."

Papali’i also emphasised that an M.P.’s role is to help the constituency push for developments such as getting their roads fixed, electricity and water supplies. "But personally, it’s not the M.Ps duty to pay electricity bills and water bills.

That is what they should do."

Becoming an M.P. also comes with many other responsibilities.

"Whenever they have a fa’alavelave, they come to the M.P. to get an i’e toga," he said. "That is okay as long as I have that to give but if I don’t, that is the end of me and they will never understand."

The General Elections is scheduled for 4 March 2016.

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