Tonga has opportunity to start afresh, says political scientist
Friday, September 11, 2009 - 19:07
Tonga's political reform is precisely a reforming of the composition of the parliament, Dr Malakai Koloamatangi, a Political Science Lecturer at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, told members of the Tongan media on Wednesday, September 9.
Problem: King gives veto
Problem: King gives veto power to a small legislature - Sione A. Mokofisi:
Your report on Dr. Malakai Koloamatangi’s assessment (Tonga has opportunity … 11 Sept, 2009) of Tonga’s political wranglings seems to me an Utopian wish list, sidestepping real issues.
I congratulate Doctor Koloamatangi for his historical perspectives on Tonga’s political spectrum, but as an academician he is duly aware that a scholarly evaluation of a phenomenon starts with first identifying the problem. With due respect to Dr. Koloamatangi, I did not find his problem statement(s) referenced in this media report.
I hope that he did not assume that we all agree on what the problem is. To find opportunities one must correctly identify the problem first. For example: An alcoholic cannot be reformed until he accepts the fact that he has a problem with drinking any alcoholic beverages.
Is the problem the Constitutional Monarchy that ruled as an “absolute monarchy?” Perhaps not because Dr. Koloamatangi correctly answered … “The monarch then ruled under the Constitution and the law of Tonga.” Therefore, it seems to me the institution is not the problem but the Constitution that legally allowed it under the law is to be reformed.
Is the problem the “proposed reform of the Tongan parliament that has been scheduled for 2010?” that Dr. Koloamatangi said “remains to be the big question?” He reasons “that this time the people will hold the power in parliament.” However, the Legislative Assembly is only one-third (legislative) of all the power of Government.
Is Tonga doing away with the American-style, three-branch democratic ideals identified in the current Constitution: Executive, legislative, judicial, and their checks-and-balance guarantees? One can identify numerous problems here, too, if the King gives up his veto power to an unicameral legislative body. Dr. Koloamatangi may perhaps be correct that the body “is too small.”
Unless we can identify the real problem(s), and critically find palpable solutions that have worked elsewhere, any political opportunities we would hope for will remain on our Utopian wish list. - Sione A. Mokofisi