I write to express immense disappointment with this incredibly un-democratic comment which came out of the official Press Release PM’s Office on the 15h of April, 2016 in matters relating to questions raised by Mrs Viola Ulakai of Tonga Broadcasting Commission:
“The Prime Minister’s Office wishes to clarify that the Hon Prime Minister is not accountable to Mrs Viola Ulakai, as a person, and he suspects that the issues and questions raised by her are not of her making but rather are those concocted and tailored by Government opponents who have recently retired from the Ministry; all for the purpose of discrediting and running down this Government.” (See http://www.mic.gov.to/news-today/press-releases/5973-hon-prime-minister-received-misleading-request-for-a-press-conference-)
It is extremely disturbing to hear that PM Pohiva thinks he “is not accountable to Mrs Viola Ulakai as a person”. Is this not so against the kind of Democracy that he so passionately struggled for in the past? That is, to let the PM and the Tongan Government, at any given point in time, be held accountable to the people and to listen to their voice? Was that all air and breath but no substance? Where is the humility in the PM? Does the PM think that he is unquestionable and unaccountable to individuals but only to corporate bodies? Aren’t corporate bodies constitute of individuals?
And even if the issues raised by Mrs Ulakai are tailored by “Government opponents”, what evidence does PM Pohiva and his Office have to substantiate such an allegation? Or whenever questions are raised against PM Pohiva’s Government, then they are from “Government opponents”? But is that not real Democracy, to answer opponents with due respect? Or does PM Pohiva’s Government needs no criticisms? Is that kind of attitude not amusing to come from a man who spend more than two decades criticising previous Tongan Government, who in comparison to his own, appear more saintly?
And who wants to run down the Government? Is not the Government, especially in matters relating the Ministry of Education, running down the people with Hon Pohiva’s “raw marks” reform from last year? There are still a lot of unanswered questions from this so-called raw marks “reform”. What improvements have been brought about as a result of raw marks? What does the future hold for this raw marks system? What em-betterment has it brought upon students’ performance? Surely, the PM in his role as the Minister of Education must be held accountable to the people on these matters?
It goes without saying that one of the the signs of a good responsible Government is to be accountable to its people, even to individuals. The Government should expect their activities to be criticised because they are not perfect sinless human beings. Even the sinless Jesus was opposed, so why not PM Pohiva's Government? It is indeed a matter of godly humility and wisdom on PM Pohiva’s behalf to lower himself to the level upon which he can meet concerned but faithful citizens of the Land, and give answers to all his Government’s activities.
I think the PM’s Office should remove its official Press Release of April 15th and apologize to Mrs Viola Ulakai for such a disrespectful and thoroughly un-democratic remark.
Rev Ma’afu Palu