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Even Democrazier


Dear Editor,

It is Democrazier than I thought.

Although my mention of King George Tupou I was for a different purpose, it is great that Hao'uli has taken us through the missionary position or version of Taufa'ahau'’s history and thus we come to our first point of disagreement. Even with the missionary version, there is not enough to support the "‘urgency"’ view. All that is clear is that he was an excellent strategist and tactitian. He was also a keen and methodical observer. The introduction of new technology (guns) hastened some of his campaign but that cannot be translated into running an "urgency" agenda for change. As belonging to one of the three dynasties, and Chief of Ha'apai at the time, the presence of the Tu'’i Tonga in Ha'’apai undermined his power in the island. Taufa'’ahau's campaign was not an "urgency"’ struggle to free the people of Tonga from any kind of bondage. It was to stamp his own authority in his home base of Ha'apai. The rest was achieved through negotiation. Other battle beside Velata was against those who objected to his newly gained prominence in the ruling elite than a conquest for domination.

It was more a coincidence that Tonga reunited under a single dynasty when the Age of Colonization peaked, and powerful nations distributed the world among themselves as spoils of the Ages of Discovery. Tonga was no stranger to the politics of "domination, but fortunately, Taufa'’ahau with the attributes mentioned above adapted Tonga to the new world...’s criteria for sovereignty. The quest to keep Tonga a sovereign nation was the only case in his rule that was conducted with some sense of "‘urgency". Fortunately, for Tonga, a man of his calibre with the necessary attributes was at the helm when she was at a point of transition from internal to international politics. This was the time that the welfare of TONGA and TONGANS became his priority. All this "“free the people from bondage" fibs was not in Taufa'’ahau's agenda, it was a later development in his rule from the external threat to the sovereignty of his home turf Tonga. "God and Tonga are my Heritage...’ is a declaration of territorial ownership. This is someone who understands the nature of power and authority and the political of Tonga at the time. To say that there was a "stage in which he no longer tolerated the state of the nation"” is a wishful historical leap.


With Hao'uli's proposition that "“today's reformist are no different from Taufa'ahau or other reformers in history", a dangerous generalization for someone who claimed that "pragmatism" for politician has a far greater priority or the only priority. Thus, we have our second point of disagreement. I would say, Not Even Comparable, based on the above account minus the missionary induced profile. If he refers to a namesake or general category, may be, if by "reform"’ we mean "sacrilege"’. Thus if I have to be consistent then we have to disagree further, I do not find Taufa'ahau sacrilege. Therefore, if we follow this line of thinking about reform, then all the Christians in Tonga better prepare if this is the pathway to qualify into this category (reformist), Christ is next in line.

However, let me elaborate further, why "pragmatism", the way that Hao'uli puts it, often leads to unfortunate outcome to society. The crux of this doctrine (Pragmatism) whether in politics or otherwise is to evaluate our ideas and, actions based on those ideas, solely by their practical outcomes and bearing on human interests. By practical, we mean observable outcome. The classical problem with this narrow view of politics is that the consequences of political actions in society do not always result in "observable outcome"’ and such activity always involved a time lag. The danger here is that it is a common practice by politicians to pick from the ongoing activities in the society what he wants the outcome to be, not necessary the consequences of the actions taken. Human interests is also problematic to politics in this sense, for the stronger groups always gain the upper hand in the struggle for recognition and in most cases influence the outcome to their advantage.

Financial black hole

Again, we go no further than the reformists support for the 60-70-80 pay rise. Was there a practical or observable outcome? Yes, their demand was granted. Does it have bearing on human interests? Yes, the interest of the 4000 public servants. Is there a possible outcome of this action we have not seen? Yes, the ripple effect of this financial black hole on the rest of the society. Have the politicians chosen an outcome of their choice? Yes, that the people need a new political order and they want it now. Do the people understand the changes proposed? No, they have a choice of three models so far and some is still in English. Will the people of Tonga understand these models before the set date of the 5th of December? No. Pragmatism is about breaking the general into particular cases with clear outcomes, it is all about details. All we have seen so far are generals: 'tukuange e mafai ki he kakai', 'fiema'’u ke tau tau'’ataina'” etc. I have yet to find a pragmatic plan, agenda or strategy from the reformers. If this is the only priority for politicians as purported by Hao'’uli, then Tonga better braced herself for a rough ride, where power politics manifested its ugly heads in a way we have never seen before. Then we spend the rest of the time voting them in and out. After over a hundred years of education my friend, I do not call what is going on a political reform, as time goes by it looks more like political diarrhoea. Taufa'ahau was a pragmatist; these reformists based on your characterization are not, try opportunistic.


Like Hao'uli, I have no quarrel with politicians and their aspirations for themselves. However, I disagree with his implied conclusion that in doing so espoused to do the same for the people along the way. This reform agenda started with the "people" and now end up with "us" as Hao'uli has confirmed that they may capture the change he would like to see. It may be, if the agenda will revert to "‘people" again. The danger here is that politicians will do this switch so many times that it becomes a habit and thus attribute of their personality. At the end so confused that they make policy for themselves as if they are the "people" We would have thought that they would have agreed to a single agenda for reform by now. Why? Because the object of the reform for the time being is their individual self, and as such, the differences are inbuilt. This individualism and the way it brought to bear on society as Hao'uli asserts "“is the nature of those who practice politics as opposed to those who simply observe and comment" as if Hao'uli implied that those who "“observe and comment"” has a lesser role to play. Power and authority are integral natures of politics and as such responsible for the prominence and downfall of many practioners. Alongside the practioners throughout history and in equal par in determining the outcome of change are the observer and commentator of any art. For politics is the art of ruling a society. To take politics only in its mechanistic sense as Hao'uli insisted, the outcome will be a social straight-jacket created by legislations and regulations of executive factions in the system of government that will suffocate a society. We only have to look around at our neighboring island nations.

Urgency is a state of affairs is predicated to events or situation that suggests a nearer approach to crisis; the variation in degrees hinge on the entity involved and its characteristics from individual, company and nations. However, in such a situation the lack that the urgency is pointing at is one among many and it may not be the decisive one. Thus the nature of such a situation demands careful analysis of the general environment which include options, possibilities, consequences and outcome of every choice we may have to make. With nations, considering what is at stake, we cannot afford to do it on the run. When we talk about nations, there are key factors that determined the variation in degree of a near crisis point; one is the judiciary and the other is finance. Has our judiciary system failed to deal with any case? No. Is Tonga bankrupt? No. Is parliament still fuctioning? Yes. Is there corruption is Tonga? Yes, the same as anywhere else. Maybe the urgency is for the "faifekau"’ to do some serious work.

I hope I am pragmatic enough.

'Ofa atu

Inoke Fotu Huakau