30 Apr 2008

Samoa Party's leader warns traditional land is under threat by land reform bill

10:30 am on 30 April 2008

The leader of the Samoa Party, Su'a Rimoni Ah Chong, has warned that traditional land is under threat if the government's Land Reform Bill is passed.

The former Chief Auditor says the land bill places ownership on the individual rather than the heirs of a family title.

Su'a said the emphasis of the bill is on the individual who holds the title instead of the family who are collectively the true owners.

Su'a believes that the whole country is not fully aware of the constitutional rights of traditional ownership that is now at risk.

The proposed legislation would place communal land ownership on the current holder of a chiefly title.

Su'a warned that the title holder can make out a will giving ownership to his/her children who will in turn become the legal owners of the land.

This essentially cuts out other members of the larger extended family who are heirs to the matai title.

The bill is expected to go through final reading at the next session of Parliament next month.