THE Chair of the Privilege Standing Committee has warned the public that forging ones signature is a serious offence. Lord Tu'iha'angana also cautioned that submission of forged documents to Parliament will be not tolerated in the future.

He said the occurrence of similar incidents in future will be referred for police investigation.

He made the comment while tabling the Privilege Committee’s report on a Petition that was referred to the Committee. The Privilege Committee noted there are some signatures they believed that may have been signed by one person.

The Hon. Prime Minister Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva then took the floor and asked for the return of the petition to petitioners. He said this is obvious and forgery was involved in the process. He said to protect the integrity of Parliament, a complaint should be lodged with the police.

The PM said he respects the constitutional rights of the people to petition the King and Parliament, but it is obviously a crime was committed. The Hon. Minister of Education and Training Hon. Penisimani Fifita shared the same insight but argued “Parliament is a pure and holy House therefore its integrity should be safeguarded,”

In response, the Niuas Noble Representative Lord Fusitu’a rebutted the statements saying Parliament has yet to prove that there was forgery. He pointed out Parliament can settle this matter later but there is nothing wrong with the petition. Fusitu’a also argued there is no harm in consulting the public on the urgent Bills.

In response, the Speaker Lord Fakafanua said the petition can be read in Parliament although there are calls for referral of the matter for police investigation. His decision is based on Clause 121 of the House Rules which required only three petitioners or more to sign a petition for submission into Parliament. Lord Speaker also argued the accusations made will not stop his decision for the petition to be read in Parliament.

Vava’u 15 MP Sāmiu Vaipulu also supported the Speaker’s decision and call for the House to continue its business.

Lord Nuku, the ‘Eua Noble Representative also argued there is nothing’s wrong with the content of the petition, therefore, the Speaker should make up his decision.

Before the House break at 12 pm today, Parliament approved to return the petition to the Privilege Committee to settle the signatory’s issue.

When Parliament resumes at 2 pm, the Chair of the Privilege Committee Lord Tu’iha’angana reported, the secretariat have met with the petitioners to settle the issue. Their Committee will meet again at 4 pm today before reporting to Parliament tomorrow.

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