24 Jan 2005

Samoa's parliament approves legislation making MPs' gift giving legal

11:57 am on 24 January 2005

Parliament has approved a bill legalising gift-giving by electoral candidates to their constituencies, but a time limit has been imposed.

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, said it was hard to marry law and the traditional customs set out in the " faamatai " or the way of chiefs.

An electoral candidate announcing a desire to run or an incumbent MP expressing thanks for support during the parliamentary term are often obliged to present gifts of food and cash at formal matai gatherings.

Often defeated candidates bring bribery charges against sucessful candidates after elections are held.

Now Parliament has set out that traditional gift giving is legal, but in an attempt to prevent bribes a time limit on the giving has imposed.

The gift giving may only begin 180 days before the end of a parliamentary term, and must stop 90 days from the date of elections.