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Why can't we be dual-citizens?

Sydney, Australia

Dear Editor

Please forgive me but I feel very strongly about this issue and I think it needs to be placed in the public arena for discussion.

I wasn't aware that we Tongan who have acquired citizenship overseas, were not allowed to renew our Tongan Passport when it expires. This was a shock to me last month when I arrived at the immigration office, Nuku'’alofa, only to be told that's now the case.

I am asking you to generate a bit of discussion about this issue as I personally believe that we are being hard-done by. If we stay longer than a month, we are charged a fee $40 per month to extend our entry Visa, when we arrive in Tonga using a foreign passport.

Let us be frank on this issue:

a) We didn't become citizens in Australia, NZ or US or anywhere else because we didn'’t want to be Tongans.

b) We became citizens because it allows us to benefit fully from services that re offered by those countries. For example: In Australia "non-citizen university students cannot benefit from the Federal Government's HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) system. In another word permanent residents and NZ passport holders who have not applied and be admitted to be citizens, will have to pay for their children's University studies up-front. When we try to sponsor a relative to travel to our respective countries, it's easier and are better supported by Parliamentarians, if unexpected difficulties arise.

c) Travelling the world is made easier when we travel on a NZ, Australian or US Passport, instead of the Tongan p/port. We need to apply for an entry Visa, even from NZ to Australia, and it also costs a lot of money and time. In a case of emergency, it is a matter of ringing up and book a ticket on the next available flight without the concerns of Visa application. To travel to US on Tongan p/port is very difficult to get a visa.

d) We are able to vote and have a voice in the communities where we live and work. We are not just recipients but rather active participants. If we need to present formal identifications in dealing with government departments, we are given a lot of respect and courtesy because it...’s that national passport we use to identify ourselves.

e) Now that Chinese in Tonga are gradually infiltrating the business system and commerce in Tonga, is the Tongan government able to confiscate their Chinese Passport, in the similar way that they are declining to renew our passports? OR ...– that the Chinese ...“are still Chinese...” should now be refused to renew their original Tongan passport?

f) Declining to renew our Tongan Passport– is a slap in the face for us, given we are the ones who support the place through monetary remittances. That is a well documented fact, and the government can't be blind to that point. W have been refused to be seen as Tongans. Our Tongan-ness has now been stripped without even consulting us. Does that mean that it'’s only the Tongan Passport holders who are allowed to send money to their relatives in Tonga? As if the Chinese are coming forward to shoulder the Kavenga, for the Lotu and for the Fonua. The Royal House recently lost one of its favourite sons. Did any of the Chinese present a Puaka Toho to align with the Tongan culture?

g) Please generate some discussion on this issue it may not affect you who live in Tonga but for us who are Tongans but carry foreign passport, why are we being denied our rights to be Tongans. I have gathered that the only way to get our Tongan passport is to apply to the Supreme Court or to the Cabinet explaining our reasons for becoming citizens elsewhere. Why do we need to go through all that? Why can't we be dual-citizens like everyone else in the world?

I do thank you and your staff in advance, however, for any discussions you are able to generate over this issue, as I don'’t think that overseas Tongan residents are aware of this development.

Poli Tuaileva
ptuaileva [at] olol-college [dot] nsw [dot] edu [dot] au