I feel I can speak for all Tongans that we do not condone the actions that devastated our island home on Black Thursday. Our heart goes out to the 153 business owners and their families who are directly affected by the aftermath of Black Thursday. Our hearts also go out to our fellow men and women, who depend on these businesses to fulfill their family and personal responsibilities. Those who are responsible for the destruction of our capital should be punished to the full extend of the law. Whether they are friend or foe, kin or neighbor, they should be afforded due process of the law, and if proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt that they participated in planning and carrying out any part of the devastation of Black Thursday, they should be locked up for a very long time to demonstrate our contempt for what they have done. If given the opportunity, I would melt the keys in a furnace to ensure the perpetrators are not released until their debt to society is paid if full, not a single day more, and certainly not a single day less.
We cannot simply see the wreckage of Black Thursday and use the symptoms of the problem to dictate the direction of any dialogue for a solution, or any course of action for a cure. One cannot try to cure a cold, when the real problem is pneumonia. Black Thursday is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the core of the problems in Tonga.
Let me begin by posing this hypothetical question for your consideration: What percentage of Americans left America for a better life elsewhere? I say about 10%, if even that. The same question may be asked of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, to name only a few. Now ask, how many Tongans left Tonga for a better life elsewhere? I say about 50%. The disparity can only be explained in terms of how satisfied or happy an individual or family is with the quality of life at home. Throughout history, the human spirit has always, and will ever be yearning for fulfillment by way of peace, prosperity, freedom, worship, acceptance, happiness, respect, etc.
Beginning in the age of the ...Enlightenment,... a large exodus of Europeans demanding freedom from the tyranny of its governments, left their beloved homes and fulfill their aspiration for peace and prosperity in America, Australia, New Zealand, and even Tonga. In the last 50 years, the percentage of Tongans fleeing Tonga to find freedom and a better life elsewhere is no different from the European exodus and undoubtedly other migrations in history to other countries. In rating a government...s success in this vital area, is there any better praise or indictment than its people leaving or staying? The same may be said of any religion in how well the spiritual needs of its congregation are being met, or any company by how well the financial needs of its employees are being met. The fact that Tongans from overseas send money to help their families in Tonga, and that money represents a substantial proportion of Tonga...s overall income, is a significant indication of the human spirit among Tongans yearning for fulfillment at home.
The tip of the iceberg is the symptom you and I, and the rest of the world sees, but what lurks below is where our focus and efforts should be directed. If not cured, other symptoms may arise in another form, or worse, another blackened weekday. Although finding those responsible for Black Thursday is the right thing to do at this time, it will not cure the deeper problems facing Tonga. We cannot rest when the perpetrators are found. The lasting solution is for Tongans to require transparent accountability from a government body that will love and respect the fundamental desires of the hearts of its people. The solution may include a complete overhaul of government policies, structure, or even personnel. And most importantly, a change in the disposition, composition, and core values of the government. With the people working hand in hand with the government through voting and transparent accountability, Tonga will perpetuate peace and harmony.
One proactive solution is allowing the people to vote for the most effective leaders on the ballot, who are genuinely concerned about the welfare of its constituents. When I say leaders, I mean all figures of government. Otherwise, the network of the good old boys will prevail. Another proactive solution is increasing the voting power for the people...s representatives in parliament. This will allow the people...s representatives (who are voted by the people to champion their ideals and conviction), to have meaningful voting power when deciding what is best for Tonga, and also the best course of action to pursue that purpose. In return, these government figures will answer with effort and results through transparent accountability for all to see what they have done.
I hope our government will understand the words of Queen Victoria spoken in India November 24, 1930 regarding Britain...s various colonies around the world, ...In their prosperity will be our strength, in their contentment our security, and in their gratitude our best reward. And may the God of all power grant to us, and to those in authority under us, strength to carry out these our wishes for the good of our people....
God will bless Tonga with the righteous wishes within its yearning heart, because it is our divine given rights inherited from on high.
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