It really astounds me that ignorance is bliss, and in this case with Mele Payne Lynch’s letter I would like to pin point some misconceptions about her experience when she went to Tonga during the King’s funeral with my own when I was there.
With all due respects towards Mele’s plight in regards with Tonga’s wasteful traditions and vandalised historical sites and ignorance of the new King George Tupou V, in not being a good charitable leader compared to Prince Charles, have really stirred my patriotism as a Tongan. It is ironic and such a farce to read this sort of letter, that made me want to hopefully shine some light of Mele’s plight.
Have and Have Nots?
In the big picture of the Globe, Tonga is and is a fact, geographically the smallest Kingdom in the World. In Australia, Tonga’s size is equivalent to the Torres Strait Islands, which nobody would know unless you were Australian. In other words, San Miguel Island just off the coast of California would be much larger than Tongatapu. In saying that, I am putting into perspective, the comparison of size compared to other countries. Which plays a part in some factors that I will discuss further in Tonga’s disadvantaged nation.
The issue for Mele, I see is not her environmental stance or wasteful use of resources or a leader compared to Prince Charles’s charity, but the issue of why hasn’t Tonga followed what other developed nations has and currently are adopting. This same issue, would be with education, health, economy, and the environment of Tonga.
This issue comes down to what western countries have, that Tonga doesn’t. By comparing Tonga to a more developed country and society can be daunting and misleading at times, because certain factors that may work and sounds good in the western world standards, sometimes is hard to implement in an under developed country like Tonga or other non-western under developed country.
Certain Cultures are unique for every nation and may not be good for other nations. That is why this Earth we are in, have different unique characteristics and gives this world we live in, character.
One good example of tampering with other nation’s culture or way of thinking, would be “Iraq”, USA have invaded a non-threatening nation and has cooked up a notion that a Dictator had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and had visual evidence presented to the World and UN in New York and after the invasion there has been no evidence of a smoking gun. However, the USA may have justified that they got rid of a dictator that would of been a threat to the USA, but now, they are struggling with the insurgence of the Iraqis, in not embracing democracy. It has puzzled the White House in a sense that they thought that by over throwing a Dictator, it would unite Iraq to a more democratic and stable nation but it did the quite opposite. Iraq is the most dangerous destination in the world today.
Even though, this example, is a bit extreme, the point I would like to express is, the cultural factor plays an important role in knowing other nation’s politics and mentality. The USA, thought erasing Saddam would solve the nations problems, but in hind site, they did not take into account the social and religious aspect of the nation before they went in, and the worst case scenario that was not planned out erupted as we see today, like the Sunnis against Shia minority.
Tonga’s geographic size says it all, we are disadvantaged in nearly every aspect of this thing called global market. Let’s face it, Tonga can not compete with the US,UK,AUST and every other nation on the map regarding in some exports. Which is pretty obvious, Tonga doesn’t have any natural resources or gases to compete with anyway, unless there is the last oil reserve in the world sitting beneath Makahaka Island.
Furthermore, with the land mass which is small compared to farmers internationally Tonga’s land size is just there back yard. So, Tonga is disadvantaged with agricultural exports because it wouldn’t be able to supply large quantity and get several quality out of their crops, which shows in this year’s poor performance in the squash industry. It also goes to the fish industry as well, the Tuna in Tonga’s waters hopefully is not over fished. So, the resources in Tonga seems to be unsustainable, because of it’s sheer size, which is basically Tonga is over it’s league in the global market.
The only, commodity that Tonga would compete in and do well and that other ex-patriot’s of Australia, UK, NZ, Germans, and USA are jumping on, is Tourism. Vava’u is now picked as a Holiday destination over Tongatapu. Whale watching and swimming with them is unique and a very good scuba diving area and yacht haven for the adventurous tourist. This is one industry that needs revamping and refreshing, to bring Tonga back to the 70’s and 80’s where Cruise ships often port.
The King’s Funeral
Being at the late King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV’s funeral and witnessed his eulogy was a humble experience and emotional one. Carrying HM into Mala’e Kula was an honour and of great respect.
The international media painted his late Taufa’ahau Tupou IV as a controversial figure. But I know his legacy as the first ever Tongan to have a Degree, let alone a Law Degree and being the Minister of Education and establishing Tonga High School where to this day nearly all Tongan Ph.D have been through this marvellous school of the elite minds of Tonga.
Even though, he had controversial issues in his time, he was always thinking of putting Tonga on the map. Trying to move Tonga towards a more modern nation and to catch up with the ever so dynamic world. He supported the Tu’i Ha’apai and Tu’i Vava’u team and we beat the Samoans at there own Fautasi Race every time. He trained nearly everyday at Teufaiva tracks in his bike, Rowing at Faua and using the Teufaiva Gym when he could of just stayed at his Palace with his own Gym but he wanted to set an example of getting fit even though of his weight. He encouraged education instead of hindering it (establishing THS), he knew that the future for Tongans who want to go overseas would be education. He kept the Land Laws to be for Tongans despite them going overseas, that every Tongan where they may be in the world, they still have a home to come back to. I am proud that Tonga was govern by a smart King and gave opportunities to what it is today.
The time I was there in Tonga, I took Tonga as what it is, trying not to compare where I have been and witnessed. But take it as a small nation just born and trying to walk amongst this ever changing world and trying to play with their more bigger and mature neighbours like US, UK, Aust, Europe and Asia. And with that perspective you tend to love it for what it is, and think Tonga is unique and special and will always be my little Kingdom in the Sun.
ionaxe [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk