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One problem at a time!

Moss Beach, Ca.,USA

Sense of Life and Justice - PSA/Government Conflicts & Tension

Dear Editor:

In my earlier comments, I noted that the public servants strike in Tonga is laced with danger and perhaps one of disruption as much as optimism. The lack of resolution on the crisis in Tonga has put a cavity on the optimism but accelerated the level of danger and disruption to a potential conflagration...…like a volcano that has been passively active but soon to have a devastating eruption. Both the government and the PSA are now faced with political conflicts and tension and they are following their convictions with indefatigable dedication and tireless arrogance.

The New Zealand mediation team was unable to provide any meaningful recommendation to resolve the strike because the labor dispute is now culminating to demands for a change in government. Was the mediation and mitigation effort unsuccessful because the government misled Judge Thomas Goddard and his team on what the real issue is? Or did the PSA officers at the last minute decide to withdraw from the arbitration because of their perception that the arbitration would not be in their favor?

Change of government

I had the opportunity to interview (via phone) the PSA secretary, Sione Vuna Fa'otusia on Sunday, 8/27/05, who indicated that the effort put forth by the government to bring in a professional mediator, was merely a window dressing.

"What would be the next step then for the government and PSA to bring this crisis to a resolution"? Vuna responded that they will continue to talk in hope that the government will capitulate. Vuna also mentioned that a change of government is long overdue.

Gruelling weeks

Other countries may view the monarchy system in Tonga as an antiquated system but what we have witnessed during the gruelling weeks of the strike is a public display of arrogance, stubbornness and stupidity. It is like Marie Antoinette (monarchy & government) and Idi Amini (PSA) coming to life again. Napoleon was a liberator until he declared himself emperor! When I asked Vuna if he hads anyone in mind that can better govern the country, he said there are some quality people in Tonga to lead the government but no specific names were given. He agreed that the demands (60%, 70% and 80% wage increase) will make a difference in the quality of life of the public servants and if Tongasat and Shoreline belong to the people of Tonga, the government will be able to afford the wage increase. While a new policy and procedure needs to be implemented, and according to Vuna, there will still be corruption in the government but the effort they are putting forth now will help minimize the corruption and bring justice to the system.

The wage increase has been proposed to parliament for so many years now but it was not fully supported. Therefore, we presume that this issue was not a top priority in parliament and government. If in fact parliament and the government have chosen to ignore the issue most important and sensitive to the public servants, we can safely say the strike is necessary. However, means and methods of demonstrating the public servants' grievances thus far could have been avoided if the monarchy and government have taken the public servants wage increase seriously, which bring us to the present.

Fully responsible

The monarchy, government and PSA are fully responsible to bringing resolution to the conflicts before it becomes a tremendous and adverse impact on the country. The monarchy and the government are fully accountable for the grievances of the public servants and it should have been a priority from its inception. The PSA is fully responsible to inform and advise the strkers of the PSA's true objection and the consequences of their action. Are the strikers on strike because they are only hoping to get a wage increase or are they justifications for the PSA officers to benefit at the strikers expenses? Waking up and smell the coffee is one thing, but waking up and smell the homeless is another!

While the initial intention of the strike is to bring attention to labor dispute, the strike has facilitated more dissonance that makes it doubly difficult for other foreign countries to intervene and make sense of the conflicts. Would it not be in the best interest of the country to resolve the labor dispute first, allowing those on strike to resume their jobs; the students and teachers can return to the classrooms and the skeleton crew at the hospital can be reinforced and help minimize the damage? Government and PSA can then move on with their discussions and arguments to political issues...….one problem at a time!!

Real test

The current task of the PSA is probably the easiest part of the job...….squeaking and making noises is easy...….the real responsibility and test will occur when they are successful in getting their demands met and undertaking the task of stabilizing the economy and maintaining a balance and harmony in the government, public servants, private businesses and various communities. Like architecture, a solid government requires a good design but while it looks good on paper, the success of the execution relies on leadership, intellect, talents, commitments, organisation, logic, skills and collaboration of the team....and time.... similarly, we cannot rush quality.

There are people in history who have been architects of peace and have had extraordinary success in resolving political conflicts nonviolently against great odds...…Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez and Ghandi to name a few. Nonviolence and time provide opportunity to stay on the offensive and if the PSA can find a different methodology and approach to put the pressure on government to capitulate without resorting to violence and avoid putting the country at risk, the PSA will attract the support of the people and also other foreign countries.

Likewise, the monarchy (if he is interested in keeping the crown), he and his appointed ministers need to make a conscientious effort to resolve the conflict and demonstrate that the interest of the people is paramount. PSA is willing to wait and while the monarchy and his ministers may have money, PSA has time as their ally.

Violence too big a price to pay

We all know from history that people suffer from violence and though we all yearn for justice, nonviolent demonstrations and avoiding senseless violence can bring honor and dignity to any class and community. Victory through violence has strings attached...….it is too big of a price to pay.

The monarchy, government and PSA's vision for Tonga's future may be excellent, but judging from current events, their eyesight can be faulty. It is time to regroup and reflect on what is best for the country and then take appropriate measure and necessary course of action without demoralizing the people, at stake of losing our capacity to elevate ourselves to the bar of civilized behavior and most of all, not losing our sense of life and justice.

Vive la peace!

Mele Payne Lynch
Moss Beach, CA

Mlpayne222 [at] aol [dot] com