The current political events taking place in our humble kingdom seemingly have greater impact today than any other in recent times. While a tri-partite committee has been formed to potentially propose another democratic platform that can just as easily be dismissed and discarded by the government. Similar the late Tu'ipelehake report.
It will be quite interesting to observe the corroborating dynamics between the committee members itself. However, it may be difficult to do so as there is a media blackout of all Parliament proceedings. Where is the transparency?
I have always believed the consensus of a committee is a difficult task, especially if representing members within the committee are to champion a specific policy, while at the same time striving to achieve accord and agreement. What a clever play by the government to pose the appearance of PR's inclusion in the committee as to infer an influential position in the process.
However, and highly likely, if the committee members conclude a stalemate in their proposal, the blame will certainly rest with the PR's, who are a whole set of other problems. And we know how our people will assume, they (PR's) were given the opportunity and they couldn't even come to an agreement. How Tongan typical.
Is the tri-partite committee the best approach? It may seem so from the outset, at least the"committee" part may be right, but the"tri-partite" part seems a recipe for disaster. Afterall, all they are going to discuss and negotiate are merely numbers of representatives, nobles versus elected, 4 minister posts, and a king. Sound easy?, like a chess match tournament that can potentially end in an all out throwdown. Each party within the committee for themselves, last man standing is most right.
East versus West
Then there's the soft cost loan from China. And all of the Chinese timber, general contractors, and consultants that come with it. As if Tongans have no idea how to build a contemporary hut. Who in the hell negotiated this thing? There are outstanding issues regarding this loan that have no answers nor legs or arms of merit. Who/what entities are the guarantors of this loan? What are the terms of recompense? If there is default on this loan, what are the terms of recourse, or is it collateralized? Will Tonga be in position to acquire subordinate financing (loans) for future needs?
And of all the questions, the most daunting one. During a time of alleged political reform, the Tongan government accepts financial aid from a Communist state. Seem ironic? No doubt the ties of Tonga and China are recent to the late king. And it seems the allegiance of His son, are to the home-country of Tonga's most recent refugees, as opposed to the newly adopted homelands of Tongan expatriate sons and daughters.
What is the underlying message here? Quite simply, it could be all about the money. No questions nor answers attached. Last year, the government was able to pay off $15MM of its current debt. At that rate, if Tonga assumes the full loan from China, plus its existing debt - it will take the next generation of Tonga to complete its current financial obligation. And that's with no added future debt.
If political reform does take place in Tonga, the new government will undoubtedly assume responsibility of all outstanding debts. It all sounds fishy, no pun intended, and I wonder whom will be the greatest benefactor of this generous financial gesture among brotherly comrades.
Hope, Optimism, Enlightenment, Clarity
I feel I speak in behalf of many who believe Tonga is no better off today than it was prior to the 16/11 riots. In many ways, evident to each of us respectively, worse. Argue as you may, but the divide and discourse among Tonga's leaders are at greater extremes today than any tri-partite committee can resolve. A proposed new tax system that is causing more confusion than perceived benefit to most Tongans. And a looming financial burden with unanswered questions causing greater skepticism and cynicism amongst Tongans. All of this bearing stark irony to the blackout of media coverage to Parliament proceedings. Where is the transparency in Tonga's government? And when can we expect it?
The tri-partite committee is a farce and façade. I have read excerpts by Tongans asking to give it time. It is perhaps what the government is biding, time. Is the government truly open to dialogue?, even in a neat and cozy tri-partite setting? The real question is, is the government willing to relinquish power? We already know there are PR's waiting feverishly in self-aggrandizing manner to snatch it up.
Then, there are all the kings' men. I've read a recent dissertation in your column by Lopeti Senituli (political advisor to the PM),"Concern Over Bitterness Toward PM.... And what he (puppeteer fika tooo) and his boss (puppeteer number taha) fail to understand is the perception of outsiders looking in. There are an expanse of us, looking, waiting, definitely not biding time, for the breadth of change in Tonga. And yes, we have opinions too and not just ...figments of our imagination', in as much as we remit our hard-earned income to the economy of Tonga. Diplomacy, something certainly lacking in the PM's office and staff, is a suggestion to Mr. Senituli, as he stretches his hand forward in a gesture of good will as an official of the kingdom, while addressing Ms. Lynch's so called accusations. That will be protocol correct.
I am reminded of a great leader coincidentally named George in past American history. Among his many great contributions to his fellow countrymen, more importantly, to his posterity of a newly emerging and future-flourishing civilization; his greatest contribution was his decision not to accept the people's plea for a position of absolute power, to be king. I know with certainty, his decision was one inspired and touched divine. If there is anyone of divine right, it is he who can walk away from absolute power and wealth. History has a wonderful and interesting way of repeating conditions.
Editor, I too hope and pray, the decisions our Tongan leaders make today are also inspired divine for the greater good to our posterity of an emerging nation and people.
Sincerely and respectfully yours,
asanft [at] mangofinancial [dot] com