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Class system, not right, but not the biggest problem

San Francisco, USA

Letter to the Editor

In Response to Tupou Layton: ‘To demand respect you must earn respect’

Your letter lacked sincerity and any clear point. I understand you wanted us to believe you were writing a letter to represent “the people”, but I think it was just a platform for you to show off. Reading your letter, I couldn’t decide if you were simply trying to put HRH Tupouto…‚a in his place or if you were auditioning for NBC’s The Apprentice. So that I don’t confuse or leave anyone behind, I’m going to break down your “arguments” so that I can better understand them.

More than half of your letter is dedicated to your bloodline and accomplishments in the business field. Congratulations! I respect anyone who is passionate about what they do and also has a sense of history. I’m sure your grandmother is very proud of you. I think it is safe to say all Tongans are related to each other. I believe it’s why we don’t have a word in our language for aunt or uncle; we’re all just one big happy family.

The latter half of your letter deals with political corruption and favoritism in politics. As a fellow American I have to ask, did you miss our election? Stopping favoritism and selfishness is more anthropology than political science. I believe you’re trying to say that the royal family somehow acts as if they are above everyone else. That’s part of a class system that goes back to the beginning of civilization and will no doubt be here after we’re dead and buried, it’s something that exists in all cultures. It’s not right, but it’s not the biggest problem in the world. To argue this point with me and win you’d have to have a picture taken having lunch with your Governor, Hillary Clinton in Manhattan and then I’d be able to say, “Tupou Layton is right, things are different elsewhere and can undoubtedly be different in Tonga as well”. I may be wrong, but! I’m willing to bet you’d have an easier time receiving an invitation for lunch with HRH at the yacht club in Nuku’alofa.

I don’t follow politics in Tonga as closely as you do, but I do know I wouldn’t want Clive Edwards to hold any position of power. Clive Edwards was in fact the criminal defense lawyer for Dennis Priven, the man who murdered American Peace Corps. volunteer Deborah Gardner back in October of 1976. With the help of Edwards, instead of being hanged, which is the custom for murderers in Tonga; Priven was allowed to return to the US where he got a slap on the wrists and a job with social security out of the Brooklyn office. Priven retired from his government job and is currently living a comfortable life in New York. It’s ironic how a criminal defense lawyer who got a brutal murderer off on an insanity plea went on to be nicknamed “the hangman”.

I don’t know if any of the allegations against Edwards are true, but I wholeheartedly believe them. I think Edwards is best captured in Kalafi Moala’s “Island Kingdom Strikes Back”. On page 184 towards the bottom, Moala writes, “He had a sinister grin. As he sat comfortably behind the desk, his eyes suggested that at any given moment, he could jump across and viciously grab any one of us by the throat. His eyes beamed as though he preferred harsher means of ‘rehabilitation”. This was a comment about Edward’s visit to Moala in prison. I respect Kalafi Moala as a true voice for the people of Tonga and I believe his comments to be true. You’ll have to read the book to capture the true depth of his experience.

I’m a strong believer in progress and time management. Reading through your arguments and accomplishments, I think you’d serve Tonga better starting something on your own and possibly contacting the San Francisco or New York office for more information. If you truly believe that there is no voice for the people and that the “commoners” are living in times akin to slavery and the dark ages, by all means, join Amnesty International and try to make a difference from that angle.

The members of the Royal Family are obviously selfish in their own ways. Those fighting for power have their own selfish motives. Everyone gets what he or she deserves and the evil you put out will undoubtedly come back to you tenfold. Let these people in power bury themselves, and concentrate on how you can help the community. It’s all about baby steps.

Siane Tui’one

San Francisco