I always support the US system of Government’s ‘separation of power and restricted over lapse’, despite the fact that there are still some fragments lying around to collect. That system cannot be healthy or work in all forms of government but it can test any governing body’s competency; prevent maladministration and provide fair ruling procedure.
In the case of Tonga we see the occurrence of that ‘separation’ in three bodies of Fakataha Tokoni, Fale Alea, and Fakamaau’anga but overshadowed by too much constitutional power in the Fakataha Tokoni and the ‘casteism- oriented’ nature of the Constitution. The Prime Ministerial decision on Hon. Mr Funaki (Minister of Tourism), evidently brought up the inability of the system to give him a proper scrutiny and a fair go for the ‘public interest’.
The Prime Minister, in my mind, obviously wasn’t making a simple decision in this time of political quake, especially the recent fallout of him and the then Treasurer Mr ‘Utoikamanu. The PM had been advised by the Auditor General to dismiss the Minister according to his finding but the PM stood on his own before consulting and liaising with the Monarch and his Cabinet. The CEO of Tourism or the ‘whistleblower’ and a few others currently under the hawk’s eye, and awaiting the consequences. If we have a good look at that it’s a mess and the public is the victim here from the cross-fire and infighting of the ruling elite and the vulnerability of the structure to provide a proper and sufficient method to handle irregularities.
Our constitution provides power-measured clauses of impeachment for peers in power with several government laws in place as well, but we don’t see in recent cases the proper pursuant of those guidelines. Let alone the contradictory nature of the constitution there is a trend of bad politics in the current administration where the PM found it very hard to deal with, spraying the salt on an open wound; the dislike of the public who are against Funaki is another thing. Now we can rightfully say the integrity of this whole issue is dodgy, only because there is no compromise between the ruling class and the public, which is the by product of an incompetent system.
Apart from that, the Prime Minister’s intention in his deliberation is not clearly beamed out, but I would like to state if his intention based on the honest mistake of the Minister he should have checked the consistency of that honesty in court of law. A few months back some news outlets uploaded in their bulletins that a Ha’akame couple was convicted in the Supreme Court for receiving funds by deception through a loan. The deceitful amount is in the vicinity of the said amount that was ‘honestly deposited’ by the Minister in his personal bank account. The couple is now serving the consequences of their act regardless of the nature and the way they committed the crimes, and on the other hand the Minister is a high government official infracts the law and regardless the nature of his act should serve the precedent set in the case of the Ha’akame couple. And if the Prime Minister’s decision is in the conscience that the government might collapse and I would like to say is a prudent conclusion. We do not want the government to collapse in a hot atmosphere where unpredictable revolution and political unrest arise.
I would like to point out here that the Attorney General but not limited to her, should work hard in those areas by initiating alternative laws and procedures that effectively counter the said problem. The PM has set a precedent, which will be unfairly referred to in future cases unless we restructure our system.
I hope Funaki will assume his portfolios in good health and all of us should support him in office whatever side of the issue we personally embrace. We have to bear in mind he is there to serve us when he returns, and to make sure he serves honestly the general public interest.
‘Ofa atu mo e hufaki
chrisfredric [at] hotmail [dot] com