The re-election to the Tongan Parliament of 6 out of the 9 people’s representatives from the previous parliamentary term seems to be a message loud and clear to the political establishment: we need lasting changes in the political system. It is good that the Prime Minister has influenced the King to the effect of electing new Cabinet Ministers from the newly elected people’s reps. However, it does not go far enough in terms of fostering any hope of significant and lasting changes being made within the political system itself. It ought to be recognized that only two ministers are getting into Cabinet from the people…s representatives. The imbalance in terms of decision making within the Cabinet will remain insofar as the people’s cabinet ministers are far outnumbered by the King’s. What needs to be done is an attempt to move towards balancing the number of people’s reps and government reps in Parliament. There should be an equal number of people’s reps as those of government reps in Parliament in order for any sense of fairness to be established in political decision making.
In order to make way for such an arrangement, two things could be done. Firstly, we need to ask whether we still need nobles’ reps in parliament. If they were, shouldn’t their numbers be fundamentally reduced to perhaps one at least or two at most? Is not a gross injustice prevails in our system of electing Parliamentarians in the fact that 100,000 people vote in 9 reps, and 33 nobles vote in the same number? Secondly, the people’s reps should stand unanimously for a profound reduction in Parliament spending; more specifically in their rendering of one hour overtime as one day’s work. This I think is how much unjust one can ever be to the rest of the workers in Tonga. Isn’t it disappointing that none of these re-elected people’s reps ever moved against such gross mismanagement of people’s taxation money? It makes one wonder whether the pro-democracy conviction is really an objective that these gentlemen are living for or simply just another money-making rhetorical scheme.
If only the people can vote into Parliament the same number of reps as those elected by the government, that should, at least, be a good balancing act for political power in the land. However, we should not expect that the problem will stop there. If what has been suggested here were to be achieved, it will only be successful in replacing the current set of problems with a new one. Ever consider why is there corruptions even in democratically elected countries such as Fiji and Australia for instance? Perhaps the problem is not with faulty political systems as such but with something deeper and more profound, something just like the corrupted human heart as Jesus puts it.
Rev. Dr. Ma’afu Palu