I am extremely disturbed by the content your latest Editorial about the new development in political reform in Tonga in which three of those PRs charged with sedition relating to 16/11 have been selected to form a Tripartite Committee to vet proposals for political reform in Tonga. I wholeheartedly agree with you that this move is “as much a set back in our strive for political reform in Tonga in the 21st century as was the destruction in Nuku’alofa on November 16 last year”. How can leaders of our government be so blinded so as to let such an outrageous move to get through? Is the King and PM stripped of all authorities to rectify this situation?
In a sound democratic system, these PRs should not have been allowed back to take their “benches” in the House until their case is decided in a Court of Law. To be sure, they are innocent until convicted in a Court of Law but that is precisely the point. Their innocence is on the line. They are not “innocent” in the normal sense that law-abiding citizens like us are innocent, for we are not (yet?) accused of any crimes. They are “innocent” in the sense that, having been charged with a heinous crime, they are yet to be convicted in a Court of Law. But having been charged with a crime, the status of their innocence is therefore highly questionable. In other words, their innocence is in the process either of being established (i.e. if they did not commit the crime for which they are accused) or being denied (if they are finally convicted). In that sense, we must exercise much reservation in affirming that these accused PRs are “innocent” in the normal sense of being innocent. They are not.
These PRs are like patients in a hospital bed. If an innocent observer were to ask the specialist dealing with them, “Are they sick?” The logical response of the specialist would be, “Of course they are sick otherwise they should not be wasting my time. But they are on the road to recovery for they are being fixed”. “Are they well, then?”, one might be inclined to inquire. “Well, not yet. They are still sick on the way to recovery”.
This is the current status of these PRs who are now being entrusted with the consideration of the future political status of our country. While they are on the process of being prosecuted for the crimes relating to 16/11 they are not “innocent” in the normal sense of the term. Even the PM is convinced that they must apologize to the Tonga people for the damage done, and, rightly so (but of which they have persistently refused). Whether they would be convicted in Court is an entirely different question. Our concern is, what kind of political system would these PRs design for the future of Tonga?
The divinely commissioned role of any given political authority is to bear the “sword of justice” in the Land. If these PRs are allowed to go as far as they have in the current political system, then I believe we urgently need to implement some measure of reform in our justice system. I am convinced that it is indeed a breach of justice for these PRs who are now accused of trying to impose their political agenda on the rest of us by force on 16/11 to still be allowed the freedom they enjoyed thus far in the Tongan government. It was already far enough to allow them back to their “benches” in the House. It is indeed too far to let them decide the political future of our government and to do all of these at the taxpayers expense. On the other hand, if these accused PRs are given such freedom, not only to roam around freely but also to preside in deciding the future of our government, I simply do not understand how much freedom do supporters of pro-democracy want to acquire for Tongan citizens in Tonga.
There is no need to plead with the spirits of our dead ancestral leaders to help us. We need to plead with God for a spirit of justice to reign supreme in the Tongan government.
Rev Dr Ma’afu’otu’itonga Palu
palus [at] dodo [dot] com [dot] au