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Slavery in Tonga?

New Zealand


May I take this opportunity to join in the discussions of what I think is the most debated issue among the Tongans in Tonga and abroad today; the Honorable Minister of Tourism’s misfortune, and the Prime Minister’s decision on the matter.

I am proud to say that the Hon. Minister of Tourism Fineasi Funaki is my tokoua since our late paternal grandmothers were sisters. I wish I had the opportunity to give him a brotherly advise that could have prevented the issues at hand. My advice would have been to deposit the check in the department’s account and loan the department the amount they needed from his own personal account to expedite the availability of the petty cash funds. The department would pay back the loan once the funds became available, which I estimate to be no longer than a week.

However, fortunately the Prime Minister does not think that there was any fraudulent intention behind the Tourism Minister’s action. The Prime Minister made a just verdict … or did he?

It makes me wonder if forcing the Minister to work without pay is legal? It is one thing to volunteer to work for free but I think it is a whole different can of worms to force anyone (Minister or laborer) to work without pay. Somebody has to enlighten me on this issue because in my uneducated brain, I see slavery. Does the punishment fall under the slavery category? If it does, is it legal in the kingdom? In most civilized countries, a typical punishment is to take a leave without pay while the department begins the healing process. If the Prime Minister allows the Minister of Tourism to continue to work, I demand that the Prime Minister pays the Minister of Tourism every penny he is entitled to.

It is a blessing in disguise (Me’apango maalie) that the CEO points out the dirt on the Minister so the logs in his own eyes can be flushed. What the CEO is accused of now is a major conflict of interest. However, those of us who grew up in the kingdom and have gone through the school system, worked for the government, before chasing the opportunities overseas are not overly surprised. This kind of self-help does happen in the kingdom even as we go to bed tonight. The government should be more vigilant so that the department chiefs don’t just have their ways with the deck and keep the kasinga for themselves. That makes for a very unfair and lopsided game.

I presume that the CEO should not worry about losing his job. The alleged abetting charges on the People’s Representatives accused of the 6/11 incident will now be dismissed. Fuatakifolaha will now get his Veikune title back and regain his seat in the Legislative Assembly. The pardoning spirit from the recent Hu Lou Ifi is sufficiently abundant enough for Tatakamotonga, Lapaha, and for all the above inequities. Thank goodness for a forgiving King and Prime Minister.


‘Aisea Tu’akihekolo Tu’ikolovatu

Molimohe‘a, Fele‘unga, Houmale‘eia, Funga’onetaka

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