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Tonga's political reality - power sharing

New York, USA


I do have some contentions with Ms. Josephine Latu’s objection to my previous post.

Her first point - “there is no such thing as an ‘absolute democracy’ ” contradicts both reality and history of political philosophy. Plato believed there are five forms of government: one just (aristocracy) and four unjust (democracy, timocracy, oligarchy, tyranny). Democracy, according to Plato, is a “rule by the masses.” Surprisingly, Plato did not like democracy because he believed it is “a rule by all the desires.” Plato’s definition and 16/11 prove that “absolute democracy” exists.

Ms. Latu rejects my comparison of democracy to 16/11, unfortunately, it is not my fault. It is “their” fault. They did not (and still don’t) specifically define democracy or state what kind of democracy they want to adopt. Once we leave democracy undefined, it is open to everyone’s use and interpretation. So my point still stands.

Josephine admits that “they don’t believe in how things took place on 16/11.” Sadly, it only reveals their failure as leaders and they are morally accountable for what had happened. Once you have ideals to pursue you are also morally responsible to guard the means to accomplish those ideals. I have never heard any proclamation of “non-violent resistance” since the beginning of the “movement.” Threats were the mean and still their mean to accomplish their ideals. I suspect they were surprised with the intensity of the evil committed on 16/11, nevertheless, they were not surprised with the mob’s violent inclinations long existed before 16/11.

I’m glad that Josephine points out how overseas media has unfairly “lumped together” the many P’s - PDM, PDP, FIHRM, NCPR etc who call for democratic reform. Unfortunately, the media only projected our Tongan political reality - before 16/11, both the democratic moderates and extremists put their eggs in the same basket. After all, politics is a game; and it is not a game. Once we are in, we have to be careful of being used or misused by others for their own end.

I am all for reform, but reform in the context of assessing and adjusting of our political and cultural reality. I doubt that the king would graciously surrender his absolute power so that we can truly “democratize.” And I doubt whether it would be good for Tonga if he does. Realistically, I believe he would do only what he already did - sharing his power without surrendering his “absolute.” With that powerful political reality in mind, if we are wise, we should refrain from thinking that democratization would only take place if all the power are in the hands of the people. And I don…’t even ask for it until we are democratically and morally “mature.” Right now, we have no choice but merge our ideal and our reality.

About the problem with the democratic reform, Josephine claims that “the big obstacle is truly educating the masses about what democracy really is about, so they don’t get misled by cut-and-paste versions in the race for so-called modernization, nor the blind veneration of old tradition.” The problem and the question is: who was and who is responsible for educating the masses about democracy? Does it make sense to delay the reform until that “education” is done?

Senituli Penitani


seni15266 [at] yahoo [dot] com [dot] au