West Papua protest in Apia during the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit.
West Papua protest in Apia during the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Samoa will take the position of Pacific Island Forum members and support “constructive engagement” with Indonesia on issues relating to West Papua.  

Earlier this week, the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia called for Samoa to increase vocalisations of concerns against the reported actions of Indonesian military against West Papuans.

In a public statement, they expressed “deep disappointment” at what they described as the continued suppression of the first people of West Papua.

The Bishops said they are praying that the Indonesian authorities halt human rights abuses, and proposed a four-fold course of action for the governments within the Anglican Church’s jurisdiction—New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga Samoa, American Samoa and the Cook Islands—to take. 

Despite the call, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said he agrees with the consensus of the Forum, which can press the Indonesian government on moral issues.

In September, the Forum supported “constructive engagement” over human rights, and members of the Forum were asked to support a resolution to go before the United Nations General Assembly.

“On the moral issue, we hold the common stance of the Pacific Island countries.

“The Indonesians should deal with the issue appropriately of human rights abuses,” he said.

The Prime Minister continued that the government and the army of Indonesia may be acting independently of each other, and that should be taken into consideration.

The Anglican Bishops also called for governments to pay attention to the denial by the Indonesian government of the “first people’s right of self-determination and the abuse of their natural resources by foreign corporations.”

On the issue of West Papuan desire for self-determination, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said he does not feel he has the power to interfere.

“The more important issue for the people of West Papua themselves, that they have been pressing, is the issue of self-determination and that is where we have no power,” he said

“This is part of Indonesia.

“It is like telling New Zealand that the North Island should be given to another race of Maori, and that’s interference.”

However, he did say the United Nations are the only authority that can help West Papua gain independence, just as Samoa did in 1962.

“That is the road we travelled in order to become independent,” Tuilaepa said.

“We sought the approval of the United Nations. There was no other way, it was the U.N that granted us our independence.”

Samoa Observer

Salwai Government’s Motion Passed

A motion moved in Parliament yesterday by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and seconded by Deputy Prime Minister, Bob Loughman, was passed after it was unanimously supported by both sides of the House.

The motion sought to amend the Standing Order 14 of Parliament on how Parliament can be requested by the majority of members to sit in an extraordinary session.

As a result of the motion, a new Standing Order 14(1)(A) was inserted.

The new Standing Order 14(1)(A) reads: “A request made by the majority of members of Parliament under this Article must be signed by the majority of members at the same time in the office of the Speaker in the presence of the Speaker or the Clerk”.

Initially the Deputy Leader of the Opposition reportedly announced that the Opposition would abstain, but after the Government agreed to change the “and” to “or” in the phrase “in the presence of the Speaker or the Clerk”, both sides supported it.

The change with the unanimous support of Parliament means that a request by majority members of Parliament will no longer be signed at secret locations or nakamals as the signing will have to be made in the presence of the Speaker or the Clerk.

This change to the Standing Order was effective immediately after the vote to give effect to the amendment.

One of the reasons for the motion to be tabled is due to the issue of allegations that signatures of some of the Members of Parliament were forged.

The change is also expected to cut the unnecessary cost to the public purse of running to the Supreme Court to determine whether the signatures of MPs are authentic or not.

The mover of the motion, Mr Salwai, made particular mention of Constitutional Case No.3 of 2013 where the Chief Justice referred to the need to amend the Standings Orders of Parliament to minimize fraudulent practices.

According to Port Vila’s Member of Parliament and Foreign Affairs Minister, Ralph Regenvanu, the change done yesterday to Standing Order 14 does not affect the existing motion of no confidence deposited by the Opposition during the ordinary session.

Mr Regenvanu said the motion passed yesterday deals with how Parliament can be requested by the majority of members to sit in an extraordinary session, not how motions are lodged.