I write to reply to comments made in a letter from Sione Tapani Mangisi on June 6, regarding the proposal for a Democratic Monarchy developed by Afeaki. I write on behalf of Afeaki, my father, who is ill.
In his letter, Sione commented that the, …Afeaki model that was posted on the MT, I do not know about as it appears that it was not meant for public discussion yet… ..a secret between their writers and the King I suppose… ….
I would like to set the record straight for Sione and for any others who share this misconception. From the beginning, Afeaki intended that his Democratic Monarchy (DM) proposal should be made available to the public for discussion and review. Careful plans were made to ensure Afeaki…s DM proposal would get distributed as widely as possible to the people of Tonga.
To begin with, on April 18, a media conference was held by Afeaki to present the DM proposal. This conference was attended by representatives from media organisations including MatangiTonga, Kele…a, Talaki, Taimi…oTonga, OBNTV, TVTonga and Radio Tonga. The journalists who attended were each given copies of the DM proposal in Tongan plus copies of Executive Summaries in Tongan and English. The Question and Answer session at the media conference lasted for nearly one hour.
All the media organisations present at the conference ran stories on Afeaki…s DM proposal in greater or lesser detail, as their editors decided. OBNTV aired the whole of the conference. Kele…a devoted a full page to commenting on Afeaki’s proposal.
Following the media conference, the next day, on April 19, the DM proposal was taken and presented to the Parliamentary National Committee for Political Reform at the public meeting held in Pangai, Ha…apai. Copies of the proposal were distributed to Committee members and to the general public in Pangai. Discussion about the proposal at the public meeting went on for nearly an hour and a half. The Committee expressed happiness to receive their first written proposal.
The Afeaki DM proposal is meant for public discussion and there are no secrets involved.
Sione’s uninformed (and admitted) comments have brought to light the issue of accessibility for the public to proposals such as Afeaki…s DM proposal. Ideally, Afeaki and the other writers of proposals would like to see a copy of their proposals in every home in every village in Tonga. Neither Afeaki nor any of the other proposal-writers have enough money to publish and distribute their proposals to all homes in Tonga.
This is why Afeaki and the other proposal-writers have relied on the media in Tonga to help publicise their work. Unfortunately, this often results in sketchy information being given to the public.
I understand that Sione has now been emailed a copy of Afeaki…s DM proposal. After having an opportunity to read the full proposal, I look forward to reading Sione…s informed comments. For instance, Sione makes the incorrect assertion that, …the King will continue to appoint his Ministers at his full discretion… … In his proposal, Afeaki proposes that the King would nominate the Prime Minister and Ministers but that Parliament would confirm the appointments or not, ie, the power to appoint Ministers would be in the hands of the People through their representatives in Parliament.
I am in full agreement with Sione about the need for continuing dialogue to determine the route for the voyage ahead. Sione strikes me as a person of energy and intellect. I have read Sione…s proposal for political change in its outline, in the MT. I look forward very much to reading a copy of his proposal when fully developed … the devil, they say, is in the detail.
Pousima AT Afeaki
tinopai [at] kalianet [dot] to