To counter the officially sponsored propaganda given by Her Royal Highness Princess Pilolevu in her speech during the Opening of the Legislative Assembly, please allow me to respond point for point, using her speech as the framework.
The economy is constantly in shambles largely due to the ongoing pillaging by the Royal Children. Any country…s leader with a half-awake conscience should be embarrassed when the remittance is equal to or more than the GDP itself. Let us not dwell on family bonds that we ignore the theft within the ruling family. Do not let our pride in our culture and our loyalty to each other and the kingdom blind us, but we must be more vigilant in our demand to return all stolen revenues and royalties to the kingdom. As a start, Her Highness should lead by example with the return of the satellites stations leasing revenues to the kingdom to show she is as loyal as those who sent remittances.
SDP8 AND PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS
Better public sector governance is not enough to make an impact on this change. Better business culture within the system must be introduced. The trauma and the agony of the …Poor Korean… during the earthquake is a perfect example of that culture. I wonder if real change had been instituted to make sure no one else will have to go through that experience again. We want real change not mere words to soothe the critics. Good governance starts with equal application of the rules that are already in place not creating more rules.
The Strategic Development Plan Eight (SDP8) should have been the vision of the brightest minds of the kingdom and presented as the expression of the people…s aspirations for a better society and higher living standards delivered by economic growth. The Government…s endorsement of the SDP8 is like asking the king to support a decree he initiated and wanted done in the first place. The citizens of the kingdom have made it clear they want growth. They want growth led by the private sector with the public sector providing the legwork to open new markets and technologies. Improve work safety standards as well as products qualities. Shoddy works and poor quality products discourages potential economic and trading partners from becoming one.
I hope the NCPR…s work will come to fruition soon. Discussing the …Change as inevitable… is like music to our ears but it should not let our guards down. I have very little faith in the self reorganization of the kingdom by the ruling family, even when the …Change is inevitable… was uttered by Her Royal Highness. What is the catch?
Acknowledging we have poor amongst us, it is of greater embarrassment that we are doing very little to change our attitude toward them. The approach to improve their lives is not through more assistance but better resources and training. For example, a new Micro-loan program should be established so the little guys are empowered to be productive. Additionally, training and expert advice and support, such as managing, marketing and maintaining a small business will be provided to make sure these new partners will thrive in our economy.
GOOD GOVERNANCE INITIATIVES
The ideas of establishing of an anti-corruption body is fine, but truly not necessary. The fine police force is capable of executing their duties. Just let them do their duties. What we need to give them is the authority to do so. With that being said, the police must be free of political pressure to investigate and prosecute corruption regardless of who the offender is. Until this is done, talk is still cheap.
STABILISATION AND PRIVATE SECTOR-LED GROWTH
The government…s plan is fine but we want additional and diverse perspectives. In addition to the government…s proposal, there should be a long term strategy on how to improve the kingdom…s total infrastructure. For example, we are in the 21st century but there is not a single sewage system in any community in the kingdom. Public restrooms are abysmal. There is plenty of assistance to be rendered to our kingdom, it is how and where it is given should be reviewed. Taking care of basic sanitary needs prevents multiple trips to Vaiola Hospital. Foreign donors are willing to donate money and labor. We must have the foresight and conduct an inventory of all the public projects we know we will never be able to do on our own (roads, hospitals, village wells, foreshores, sewage systems etc). Prioritize them in to 5 year projects then ask our international communities to provide their assistance. We are a poor nation but let us be resourceful but not poor and pitiful.
EDUCATION YOUTH AND TRAINING
I am glad the Royal Family recognizes the kingdom…s most important asset, its people. What I recommend will be far reaching and will be laughed at by most. However, it is time to embark on a new vision. To overhaul the education system, the kingdom should look elsewhere to reduce its spending per student. For example, the high schools should be reformed where a student should only attend four years in high school not seven or eight. Upon graduation after four years, the student should be able to enter the labor force and be productive. Spending additional years in high school is costly to both the families and the institution of learning. The schools should revise their curriculum to prepare students for either further academic studies abroad or enter the labor force with needed skills. Let us be realistic, a graduating class of a hundred will produce 20% professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc). The rest (80%) will enter the labor force or just hang out in town. If we focus on the majority and design an education system that will help them, the economy will be in turbo mode. Besides, foreign countries desire skilled laborers. Do I hear chaching from more remittances? Amen!
Primary education is fine. Provide a solid curriculum, pay the teachers well, and hold them accountable. Teachers who can not teach should be introduced to another skill fitting his/her talent.
The government should also lead the initiative to reform secondary education. It is good to increase the grant per student. However, the Ministry of Education should monitor the strict compliance to standard by these schools. Quality education will lift a nation.
Finally, the government should establish a trade school where the latest technologies and innovations are taught. Syllabus should be as high and stringent as those that are sponsored by large corporations overseas. By creating this source of skilled labor pool, foreign countries will be willing partners in providing employment as well as foreign corporations will be willing to relocate to the kingdom because of the abundance of a skilled force. Like Her Highness said, …it is true, our young people are innately capable and adaptable, richly endowed with natural abilities; but they need to be motivated, shown the way, and pushed to the limit to realize their full potential…. Establishing of a new ministry is unnecessary. It only adds to the layers of politics that are drowning us….
LAW AND ORDER:
Crime is a problem because those at the top who misappropriated or lost millions of the kingdom…s dollars are not prosecuted but freely roaming the globe. Unfortunately, those at the very bottom who re-appropriated or stole even a coconut are thrown in jail. The same law applies to everyone, and …Equality for All….
We want change. It may not be right away but we want a timeline set. Telling us change is inevitable is like me walking from the USA to the kingdom. We…ll all be dead before I can accomplish that. But, isn…t it nice I tried? Not really! So is this warm and fuzzy feeling change that was mentioned by HRH.
THANKS TO PARTNERS IN DEVELOPMENT
To the ex-pats out there in the globe, I thank you. The sacrifice you and your families made keep the kingdom afloat economically. Though you are ignored and laws have been passed to strip you of your Tongan citizenship and passports, you still visit the bank to send your remittances. Please do not stop there. Your help to your family helps the preservation of the kingdom.
We must work together and let the same rule apply equally to everyone. Bailing out Shoreline will sink the economy. It is high time for the investors to assume the risk. In 2003, they borrowed US$30 million dollars to improve the kingdom…s electric power generation. Three years later, they still need US$30 million dollars as a buyout? If we consolidate all the revenue producing assets (Satellite stations, shoreline, Tonfon) which had been siphoned by the royal children, we will not have to wait three years for the economy to turn around. How ironic! Our Christian and friendly nation is mentioned while those who are in power are aligning with an atheist nation (China). Church bells on Sundays is a menace, remember that?
Pehe pe moau, ……Oku ou …ofa lahi …aupito kiate kimoutolu hono katoa….
His Lowness TamaFoa
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