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Tonga's opium for the masses

Nuku‘alofa, Tonga


From Magazine Tonga Magazine Vol. 13, no. 3, October 1998.

By Pesi Fonua

With regards, to our declining economy, and the proposals that have been put forward for a recovery package, it appears that it will take a major crisis to turn these proposals into actions, because they are all tied up in a phenomena known in Tonga as, “fu‘u lahi ‘a e politiki”, or “too much politicking”.

Too much politicking in simple terms means too much hot air and no action, or doing the wrong thing.

If a Bill is rejected by the House, it may not be because there is something fundamentally wrong with it, but it may be rejected because some elected members fear losing their seats, then the only excuse is selfish politiki.

If a public servant is not processing an application to government simply because he or she does not like the applicant or the proposal, then that is destructive politiki.

If the selectors of a national sports team do not select the best players, but instead select one of their relatives or a players from their village, then that is disappointing politiki.

When an employee is only interested in being paid, and makes excuses for avoiding work, that is frustrating politiki.

If you get bumped from your seat on the airline, by someone who has more influence than you, that is maddening politiki ai pe.

The powerlessness of the public health department and the police to kill the free-roaming pigs that are destroying Tonga’s environment is woefully politiki.

And so it goes on.

If religion was regarded by Carl Marx as the opium for the masses in the Tsar’s Russia, then perhaps it could be said that too much politiki is the opium for the masses in modern Tonga.