12 Jan 2019

No back down from Samoa PM over 'fake news' claim

6:18 am on 12 January 2019

Samoa's Prime Minister is not backing down from his claim that concerns about the alienation of customary land are "fake news."

Samoa PM and Police Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegoai

Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi Photo: RNZ Pacific /Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

The Samoa Observer reports Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi took it a step further yesterday, calling those worries "garbage," "stupid" and "fiction".

The prime minister says the final proof is that since 1962, no customary lands have been alienated.

This week the President of the Asian Development Bank made his first trip to Samoa with a number of protesters present outside his joint press conference with the prime minister.

Both the government and the ADB have been criticised for promoting the economic use of customary land and the creation of a more structured registration system of title.

This has culminated with legal action against the Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi over the Government's Land Titles Registration Act.

In a 2014 letter of complaint, a group of chiefs wrote that the 'leasing of land to outsiders for long durations - as would be necessary to secure a mortgage - comes perilously close to land alienation, forbidden by our customary laws as well as the Constitution of Samoa'.

It was described as a 'hidden danger'.

But Tuila'epa remained unconcerned.

He said Samoa has been protecting the land up until now and will continue to do so.