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Ministerial posts should be advertised

Pago Pago, American Samoa

Editor,

My two senses on the subject, Prime Minister and the Ministers:

The National Committee for the Political Reform (NCPR) recommended the following:

1. That the King would still elect the Prime Minister but must be from the members of the House.

2. The Prime Minister would choose his Ministers from the members of the house also.

I have serious problem with limiting the choices for the ministers to the members of the house.

When the representatives win elections, they are the people’s top choices to represent them in government. If these top choices are taken out so to speak to fill the post of a minister, they are removed from the very responsibility and the reasons why they were voted for in the first place.

Moreover, the task of representing the people will now be delegated to the second vote getter. In other words, the majority of the people will now be represented by someone they either did not vote for or for their second or third choice.

It is also a big mistake to limit the pool from which minister’s post is elected from to just the few people in the house.

Nobles are inherited by birth. It must be understood that the members of the house is selected by popular vote. Qualifications for the Noble’s 9 seat are by birth right and by popular vote. Qualifications for the peoples seat is by popular vote also. Unfortunately, the qualifications for the post of a minister is much more specific and to a much and specially trained with certain measurable experiences. Popularity is very low in the list of characters that must fill these special posts as Ministers.

I liken the post of a Minister to that of the Secretaries to the President of the United States or Directors to the governors in the state level. They are highly educated specialized trained individuals with years of experiences in their fields.

The US Secretary of Defense is a 5 star general with over 35 years of military experience. The Secretary of health is a former Physician with years of experience in the hospital setting both as surgeon as well as an administrator.

Tonga should not be any different.

Tonga’s Minister of Health must at least be someone with a medical background either as a physician or an experienced administrator with years of experience in hospital and health field.

Tonga’s Minister of Public Work should be an engineer with experience in that field.

Tonga’s Minister of Police can best be occupied by someone with extensive experience in Law Enforcement.

Let’s take the three ministry post above and take a look at the current make up of the house of Parliament in Tonga.

Now, honestly, which one of these representatives is best suited to successfully take on the responsibilities of a Minister of Health, or Public Works or Minister of Police. The answer if you are honest with yourself is none of them.

We have to discard the notion that somehow the post of a Minister or leadership position in the government for that matter is gift or a token of appreciation (me’a’ofa pe koe fakapale). This should never be the case.

Again, by limiting the candidates of the post of a Minister to just current elected few is a huge mistake. There are certainly well qualified individuals for the posts that do not have the aspiration to be in parliament. The proposed system will disqualified thousands of educated Tongans who could be great for the post.

It is preposterous to presume that the people’s choice to the house is also their choice to the minister’s post. There may be a few in Kolomotu’a who would argue that their choice for Toa ko Ma’afu team should also be Tonga’s choice to the Ikale Tahi. But the majority of the people will think otherwise. My choice for the house and my choice for a Minister of Health is not one and the same.

I suggest that the most democratic and fairest way to select candidates for the post of Ministers is for the posts to be advertised to the general public as employment opportunities.

The advertisement should include a general description of the job or post and a detail lay out of Duties and Responsibilities.

A minimum qualification standard is set forth. This includes put not limited to specialized degrees and specified number of years of experience in the field.

Also just as important is that the post should be for specific number of years. It is recommended that ministers should serve for up to but not to exceed 5 years. After each 5 years, the post should be advertised, candidates selected by the PM and confirm or reconfirm by the house.

Anyone can apply, but priorities should be given to Tongans.

From this much bigger pool, the Prime Minister chooses his Ministers. The choice is then presented to the house of Parliament for confirmation. I believe the house can serve the country better as evaluators of applicants for the minister…’s post rather then to be ministers themselves.

Tonga may brag about the highest numbers of graduates per capita in the Pacific with professional degrees (engineers, doctors, lawyers).

But surely, it cannot claim that it has the most experience professionals to people its most important leadership post.

Respectfully.

Mafi ‘o Amerika Samoa

slkava [at] samoatelco [dot] com