I find it absolutely shocking and disappointing that Lopeti Senituli, the so-called Political Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr. Feleti Sevele, was accusing you of misinforming and misleading the public in connection with your comment on the working hours or days of Parliament.
It is a simple calculation I am sure Lopeti is quite capable of doing, if he did his homework. The Tonga Parliament has traditionally been sitting for 4 days only per week, Mondays through Thursdays for 4 hours per day, including morning and afternoon tea time. Parliamentarians are paid on a daily basis including non-sitting days - Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The average earning of an MP is $700 per week not counting their basic salaries of $23,000 per year.
Now that the number of sitting days is decreased to 3 days only per week, Lopeti’s argument is that the number of hours has been increased to maintain the 16 hours of sitting time per week with an addtional 30 minutes. The point Lopeti, is the fact that you can increase the sitting time to 5 hours 30 minutes per day for 3 days and it is still a decrease of working days from 4 to 3, whereas the countries of the civilized world are using the 8 working hours per day to earn 40 hour week salaries.
How can you reconcile working for 16 hours and 30 minutes to earn $700 per week when many people in Tonga are earning less than $100 per 40 hour week?
I hope Lopeti would consider his accusations against the Media before he shoots off his mouth. We are beginning to suspect that he was hired as an artist to paint a Rosie picture of the Prime Minister.
Editor, Kele’a Newspaper