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Tonga's Political Reform process lacks clear vision

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

By Pesi Fonua

Following the current discussions in the Tongan parliament about the exact role and the composition of Tonga's Commission for Political Reform, it is now glaringly obvious that parliament does not have a clear vision of the new system of government that they intend to impose on us.

By not having a clear enunciated vision it is obvious that the commission - if it will ever be formed - will have quite a job on hand to dream up a vision of a new political system for Tonga before they can structure the system that they think is most suitable for us.

Are we going to have a say on this? So far the answer to that important question is a disappointing "No". Our Great Leaders, the Members of Parliament don't know what to do but they are hiring some people to do it for us.

Meanwhile, in the House two lines of argument have emerged - one to let the Commission dream for us and then present to the House a blue print of a brand new system of government, so that the House then may make amendments and accept or reject the proprosals.

The other line of thought is for the House to agree on fundamental issues such as the duration of parliament, electoral constituencies, the composition of the House and the overseas Tongan voters. These issues might give the Commissioners a rough idea of what kind of government the Tongan parliament would like to have.

However, the two most important elements that are still missing from the process of structuring a new system of government for Tonga are a clear Vision of a new system - giving us glimpses of how it would be better than what we have now and how it would work; and secondly, a Referendum, giving the people of Tonga the right to choose what they think is good for them before the commissioners and their technicians get to work.