The legality of the four ministers, appointed by the King after the 2005 election, remaining in office, has been raised by the People’s Representatives again. Langafonua Tu’uloa Party have added to the discussion, but it seems that both have missed the point. Maybe this would help.
The issues in relation to this saga are:
(i) The King’s decision to appoint two Ministers from the elected Nobles and two from the elected People’s Representatives.
(ii) The reason for the appointment.
(iii) The Prime Minister.
(iv)The proclamation of the conditions of the appointment by the PM.
(i). The issue here is whether the appointment of these Ministers by the King was legal. The answer is YES.
(ii). There was no doubt the Tupou IV had already entertained a political reform agenda for Tonga. It was also obvious that he favoured a gradual transition from Constitutional Monarch to a more representative form of government. What we are not sure about is the scope of the reform he had foreseen for Tonga. But if the appointment of the 4 Ministers and the Prime Minister is a guide to his will, then the People’s Representatives and the Demos in their shortcoming (blind quest for power) have sabotaged the more meaningful political reform path for Tonga.
(iii). The PM is the chair of Cabinet and holds authority over the ministers and the operation of government. Does his authority extend to the appointment of ministers? The answer is NO.
Does any proclamation by PM represent consent by the Cabinet? Yes.
The fact that neither the Secretary to the Privy Council nor the Palace Office made the proclamation would at best entail that the proclamation was to maintain His Majesty’s leading leadership role and to generate general public confidence in the current political system.
(iv). The PM’s delivery, considering the public sentiment at the time and the Demos campaign on OBN, the announcement as made by the PM provide an extra weight in terms of public trust and confidence. But it adds nothing to the legal status of the proclamation or the binding of the legality of appointment to the conditions stated in the proclamation. The appointment remains legal, based on the constitutional authority of the King. The announcement by the PM remains as a public information exercise.
The relation between the appointment and the proclamation by the PM of the conditions of these appointments are two separate legal issues. The appointment hinges on the constitutional authority of the King. The conditions of the appointment hinge on the amendments to the Constitution in accord with the King’s decision. When the amendments to the Constitution or when Parliament fail to legislate the conditions, then the only thing that remains in regards to the legality of the appointment is the King’s constitutional authority, nothing else. The point is, when Parliament failed to legislate, the conditions or terms of reference cannot be attached to the appointment. But failure to legislate the conditions cannot nullify the appointments. The appointment can stand on its own merit.
Thus, the legality of the appointment reverts back to the normal and constitutional status quo of appointing of Ministers by the King (Constitution Clause 51). Unless, Tupou V in accordance with his constitutional authority decided to retire them to satisfy the proclamation, the chance of doing it otherwise is wishful thinking.
It seems that the Demo Representatives are lobbying the Nobles to get at the Prime Minister. I will not be surprised if a No Confidence motion is already in their agenda when Parliament opens. But I hope that the Nobles’ Representatives would not take part in this malicious and pointless exercise and instead have the will to move for a complete overhaul of the Political Reform agenda for the future of a proud nation and people.
‘Inoke Fotu Hu’akau
inoke [at] 2000fm [dot] com