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Hello? Anybody home?

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Editor's Comment by Pesi Fonua

The saying today in Tonga that some people can get away with million dollar day-light robberies, while others may be sent to jail for stealing the neighbour’’s chicken, is very true if you look at what has been happening during the past few months.

The March parliamentary election has stretched some people’s imaginations to the limit so that they do things that an ordinary bible-carrying, big ta'ovala wearing Tongan would not do, which is simply cheating in order to get a few votes. I suppose they got what they deserved - fewer votes than they expected and no chance of winning a seat in the House. But this kind of miscalculation is chicken feed compared to the goings on in government during the past months.

Following the collapse of the Royal Tongan Airlines, we had the upheaval over the control of the domestic air service, the illegal media laws, the dismissal of three Cabinet Ministers, and the reversal of privatisation on the wharf. Now there is the latest scandal of excessive salaries and monetary benefits for the top executives of Shoreline, paid for by the public with expensive electricity. There is also a possibility that the public will be left with repaying a massive loan that Shoreline may not be able to repay within the 10 years lease on the monopoly power supply for the country.

In the eyes of the world Tonga has become an almost paralytic and hopeless case.

What has happened to our government and our leaders? This is the time we need leadership to help save us, and our country.

If you think Tongans have enough problems to worry about, consider what international organisations from friendly countries have told us point blank in recent months: one in every four Tongans lives below the poverty line of $28 per person per week;. Tonga is falling behind economically, in its human rights record, and in political rights, while excelling in corruption, unemployment, and crimes; and we must do something about it, soon.

Hello? Is anybody home? Where is our government, and where are our leaders? What have they to say about all this?

The answer is Nothing will happen. It appears we are living in a deadly political vacuum.

We can’’t replace government because we do not have a shadow government in place, capable of doing things in a different way.

The recent move by a group of hardliners to form a political party, is not the first attempt, it is probably the fourth.

The first step, surely, must be to amend the Constitution, making it possible to usher in a political party system of government. When we have one party in power and the other, a shadow government in opposition, only then can we be certain of an uninterrupted rule of law by a government elected by the people.