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The silence of the Moderates is deafening

Auckland, New Zealand


First I’d like to thank Daniel Fale for trying to clarify what powers the king did and did not give up in 2008 …– that was useful. I was going by Lord Chamberlain’s speech, which Matangi Tonga has helpfully reprinted.

Thanks also for Senituli’s input. But is it really that hard to understand that if the King retains the right to pick at least 4 non-elected ministers, as I said, it means he is not a ceremonial figure?

That said, I don’t think Senituli can escape dealing with the parliamentary numbers he calls “sugar coating” …– this directly has to do with “power sharing”. Otherwise, what exactly does the term mean? How can you “share power” and have “absolute power” at the same time? Unless the amount you’re sharing doesn’t matter in the big picture?

Here is the simple dividing line: Are we happy with the traditional distribution of power?

Whether we say ‘power-sharing’, ‘negotiations of power’ or ‘checks and balances’, I think we’re all essentially trying to answer this question.

Temo’s say no, monarchists say yes, and “moderates” (umbrellas a large range of views) say no, but we can compromise and tweak. The “how” of the compromise was being debated when 16/11 erupted.

I don’t think moderates have been silent on the issue, because I think both the NCPR proposal, as well as the PM’s Roadmap to Political Reform were fairly moderate. Unfortunately, they were both rejected by the PR’s.

As for the “moderates” in the silent majority, maybe they are less likely to speak their views for fear of being criminalized together with the Temo’s …– which is what Senituli is doing, in my eyes.

This fosters self-censorship and limits dialogue.

Other than that, I think the current political reforms are only a start, and will open up the door for more reform, although it may take many more years. The only way to move forward is a moderate one because it’s a negotiation between two sides. And I fully believe in the talanoa process doing this.

But whatever the outcome, my major concern is that these are supported with programs that help people to think critically about democracy and culture and make fully informed decisions. If we are wary of reform because the people “aren’t ready” to handle it, then why not get them ready?

“Democracy”, no doubt, became more demonized after 16/11. I think such a blanket dismissal is throwing the baby out with the bath water and only limits our range of solutions. Like Kisione, I don’t think we can have a “pure monarchy” or “pure democracy”. If a middle road makes one a gutless moderate, so be it.

With much respect because I’m learning a lot from everyone’s views,

Happy Easter!

Josephine Latu


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