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Fully elected parliament for the people, by the people, Tonga's NCPR proposes

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

By Pesi Fonua

The King and the Government of Tonga should allow the people to elect all the members of the Tongan parliament, Dr Sitiveni Halapua told the Tongan Legislative Assembly today (5 October 2006).

Dr Halapua said that his committee proposed for government to proceed and amend legislation in order for a fully elected parliament for the people, by the people, to be established.

After the people elect all members of parliament, the King then may appoint a Prime Minister from the elected members, and the Prime Minister will appoint his Cabinet Ministers from the elected members of the House.

This recommendation was made in a nine-chapter report being presented by the National Committee for Political Reform, to parliament this week.

The NCPR chairman, Dr Halapua this afternoon completed reading Chapter 5, on the second day of presenting the NCPR findings to the House, after consultations with Tongans nationally and abroad.

Dr Halapua and other members of the House agreed that Chapter 5 was the most important part of his report, dealing precisely with the aspirations of the Tongan people for political reform.

The NCPR report revealed that a majority of Tongans wanted the traditional social structure of the king, nobles and the people to remain untouched, "but there must be changes to the structure of government and how government is administered".

Metaphorically, the people were saying that the Fale, or house, was leaking so it should be repaired, instead of demolishing the whole house, the report stated.


At question time a People's Representative 'Akilisi Pohiva asked how deeply had the NPCR and the people discussed Section 75 of the Constitution - the right of members of parliament to impeach Cabinet Ministers, because there had been 10 impeachment cases since 1912, but no ministers had ever been impeached in Tonga.

Dr Halapua said that the issue of impeachment was never dealt with directly, though it was discussed in a number of occasions. The accepted view was that the House votes first and so in order for an impeachment case to proceed there is a vote in the House. If the people are unhappy with how their representatives voted, then those People's Representatives will know the feeling of the people in the following election.

The Deputy Chairman of the NCPR, a People's Representative, Samiu Vaipulu, also reminded the House that currently the Law Committee of the House was working on the House's working regulations, dealing with impeachment. He said that the problem area had been that impeachment cases were presented to the House as motions, and therefore they could be easily thrown out.

The Tongan Parliament will go into recess tomorrow, Friday, so Dr Halapua will continue with his presentation of the NCPR's findings on Monday October 9.