HM King George Tupou V opened Tonga's reformed parliament, this morning, June 2 noting that large scale reforms are needed to change Tonga "from an impoverished country, which missed out on most opportunities to improve its circumstances in the 20th Century to a prosperous one of the 21st Century".
In a speech from the throne the king paid tribute to the achievement of the previous government and parliament in enacting what he referred to as the "first stage of our democratic reform . . . without a single voice of dissent."
He reminded parliament that the essence of the reform, vested the power for further reform in parliament.
But King George also stated that the political reforms of the past are small in scale when compared to an economic and social organization reform designed to change Tonga "from an impoverished country, which missed out on most opportunities to improve its circumstances in the 20th Century to a prosperous one of the 21st Century."
The King set a target for a 2% economic growth rate by 2013, and advised government to coordinate efforts under a general policy "to encourage our commercial activities, primary production and competent marketing."
With regards to the long awaited appointment of a Lord Chancellor to appoint judges and a new Attorney General, the King said that government will introduce legislation to parliament, which will grant the king power to appoint a temporary Lord Chancellor and a temporary Attorney General, to complete the membership of the Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Panel to select Tonga's first Lord Chancellor and a new Attorney General.
He said that a Lord Chancellor "shall be empowered to protect the Courts and the judges while preserving the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary."
Nuku'alofa was alive with the sound of brass band music and the cheering of secondary schools from around Tongatapu who marked the event with their colourful display of marching on a beautiful cool day.