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Contradictions over anti-Media laws

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Reply to: Media Bills had become a cause célèbre

Dear Sir

The lengthy explanation of HRH Tupouto’a confirms in detail his knowledge of what was going on, his involvement and participation. These explanations contradict what he previously said viz:

….”I was opposed to the anti-media laws on the grounds that they were not our style of doing things in this country”….

How can HRH be opposed when he allowed the Bills to go through and presided over meetings where he gave advice and directions on how to maintain a united front to secure enactment of the Bills?

I made no impassionate submission as alleged; - it was not necessary because you had made it very clear that if we did not vote for the Bills we will lose our jobs (“Go home”).

He should read the judgement of Hon. Chief Justice Ward in the second Lali Media case concerning the Order in Council, which stopped the ‘Taimi o Tonga’ from being brought into Tonga for a second time. Who presided over that Privy Council meeting? I was not present at that meeting but I together with all the Ministers were sued for that order.

He has repeatedly made reference to Kalafi Moala, and I hope he has made peace with him. HRH accused me of confiscating Kalafi’s Tongan passport. I refer him to section 4 i) of the Nationality Act Cap. 59, which reads as follows

“A Tongan subject who when in any foreign state and not under disability by obtaining a certificate of naturalisation or by any other voluntary and formal act becomes naturalised therein shall henceforth be deemed to have ceased to be a Tongan subject.”

Don’t criticise the Police and/or the Immigration section because they were only upholding the Nationality laws, which have been in existence since 1915. Criticism should be directed at the law not those who are required to enforce it.

Here are some other incidents arising from the same section of the Nationality Act:-

Kitione Lave - Famous Tongan Boxer and naturalised British Subject, was expelled and deported from Tonga in the 1970’s. His family were from Vava’u and some of them still live there today.

Filiai Uipi - Tongan born US lawyer and congressman of Utah naturalised US citizen refused entry and deported with his wife who was a holder of Tongan passport in 1993.

Litia (Family name withheld) - Naturalised US Citizen and deported in 1993 not withstanding her family here who are prominent in the community and Government.

Immigration today, still confiscate passports, but we don’t hear about those things in public because those people are not in the media or connected with politicians.

All these incidents (except 4) occurred before I was appointed a Minister.

I remind HRH of the incident in Parliament where he had proposed and moved that Kalafi Moala, Filo Akauola and Akilisi Pohiva be imprisoned for 30 days because the “Taimi O Tonga” published the proposed impeachment of a Minister before the motion for leave to impeach was tabled and considered by Parliament. I did not vote for their imprisonment. When they were committed to prison, I took the blame for HRH and the whole of Parliament - Did I complain? NO! When I proposed that they be given the chance for a final plea for ‘mercy’ who screamed at me? Who denied their rights to explain themselves and ask for ‘mercy’? Whose style of doing things is that?

Reference to ‘Kingdom Airline’ has been made in an attempt to justify the actions taken by HRH in Government to eliminate ‘FlyNiu’ in favour of his own airline and the consequential dismissal of Ministers. The company and their investors were told on 4th August 2004, that they would not be granted a license and consequently disbanded thereafter, which was well before the unfortunate ‘FlyNiu’ incident and policy implementation. What is its relevance in this matter when it never came before Cabinet? The decisions for licenses are the sole responsibility of the Civil Aviation Minister and his Ministr

‘Kingdom Airline’ and its overseas investors did not want to be bankrupted by Government as is now the unfortunate experience of ‘FlyNiu’. I would not be proud of ruining poor Tongans (FlyNiu) and thereafter threaten to “trounce” them in court if they try to seek their rights.

Yours faithfully

Clive Edwards.

27 January 2005.