A call to replace members of the Legislative Assembly Standing Commitee on Privileges has breached the principles of the separation of powers.
Interim Chairman of the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Privileges, Lord Fusitu’a revealed this earlier this week when Vava’u 16 MP tabled a Motion for an Order calling for removal of all Membersof the Committee amid concerns that justice is not being served.
Lavulavu’s proposed Nobles' Representative No.1 for Tongatapu, Lord Vaea to replace current Chairman, Nobles' Representative for the Niuas, Lord Fusitu’a with additional new Members including Nobles' Representative No.2 for Haápai, Lord Tu’iha’ateiho, People's Representative for Tongatapu 9, Hon. Penisimani Fifita and People's Representative for Haápai 12, Hon. Vili Hingano from the People’s Representatives, with Minister of Police, Prison and Fire Services, Dr. Hon. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa and Minister of Revenue and Customs, Hon. Tevita Lavemaau from Cabinet.
Vava’u 16 constituency MP ‘Etuate Lavulavu tabled the Motion for an Order number 2/2015 on Tuesday on the grounds that Members of the Privilege Committee have personal grudges against him.
When it was read in Parliament, Lavulavu maintained it is evident that Committee Members are divided over a decision they made about a recent impeachment motion against him.
“It is normal when a parliamentary committee submits a report to Parliament, for Members to support its recommendations and conclusions. Members are supposed to stand united. However this is not the case, MPs are divided with two sides opposing each other leaving the Chairman, Lord Fusitu’a to stand on his own.
For this reason, Lavulavu thought justice would not be achieved.
The Interim Chairman Lord Fusitu’a denied the allegations and emphasized their work was in compliance with the Rules of Procedures and the Constitution.
He said their work was carried out in a transparent manner. Lord Fusitu’a also urged Lavulavu to respect the Legislative Assembly’s Rules of Procedure.
Fusitu’a added its unfortunate that a Motion for an Order was submitted to Parliament, as it has breached the principle of the separation of powers.
“It’s sad to see a Government that promotes good governance yet its Executive turns and dictates the Speaker and the Legislative Assembly. I don’t like the way this is being handled…It’s also sad to see a man trusted by the nation and the Prime Minister to have breached the principles of the separation of powers,” explained Lord Fusitu’a.
He said it’s like an accused who gets to choose the judge and jurors for his court case.
Hence, he urged Lavulavu to trust the law, Rules of Procedures and trust his fellow MPs for they will carry out their work honestly and in a transparent manner.
Meanwhile the Committee’s report number 9/2015 rejected Lavulavu’s motion for an order and recommended it was inconsistent with Rule 172(1) the Rules of Procedures. It also stated that Parliamentary Standing Committee consists of Members nominated by the Speaker and approved by the Legislative Assembly.
The Committee report concluded that justice will not be served if all Members of the Committee are removed and new MPs are introduced on a proporition based on Lavulavu’s Motion for an Order. For this reason it was highlighted if this is the case then justice would not be served.
Lavulavu also pointed out the Committee Members’ action has impacted the work, time and the agenda of Parliament. He also mentioned that not only did the Privilege Committee release an incomplete report to Parliament but its carelessness has also mislead the public. Thus paving the way for people to criticise and ridicule the work of Parliament.
He also accused the Committee Members of being biased with their decision in deferring deliberations on a petition from town and district officers of Vava’u which was submitted to be considered by Parliament during deliberations on the national budget for 2015/2016.
Lord Fusitu’a also refuted Lavulavu’s claims their work was unorganised and emphasised their work was carried out in an organised and transparent manner.
Speaker of the House, Lord Tu’ivakano also rebutted Lavulavu’s allegation about wasting the taxpayer’s money for the extra work carried out by the Committee. Tu’ivakano said the extra work carried out by the Committee is fair.
“The Committee’s work carried out its work accordingly yet it was him who requested to appear before the Committee to answer to allegations made against him,” reiterated the Speaker. .
Tongatapu 4 Constituency MP, Mateni Tapueluelu said Members of the Committee carried out their work honestly. He also admitted the Committee’s difficulty in facilitating his request and reassured Lavulavu they will perform to their utmost.
Lavulavu ended up withdrawing his Motion for an Order, after a call from the Hon. Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.