I would like to thank Mr Eliesa Fifita for bringing to the attention of the public the undemocratic failings of the Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva (letter to the PM dated 14th January 2015). I would also like to thank Sione Mokofisi and many others at home and around the world for speaking out against nepotism on Matangi Tonga and on the social media networks.
The reason why we are debating this issue is because Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva criticised nepotism when he was not the Prime Minister but, now he is in power, he has appointed his son to be his PA!
Consequences of nepotism:
1) The Prime Minister has weakened his own stance on this moral issue by employing his son as his PA. Right across the public services, employees will say ‘if the Prime Minister can do it, so can we!’
2) Nepotism is a form of discrimination against the non-related employees who are trustworthy and capable of serving a Prime Minister of Tonga.
3) Nepotism breeds mistrust amongst the employees in the workplace. It breeds suspicions, low morale and conflicts of interest and it paves the shortest pathway to corruption.
4) Nepotism gives out a negative image of Tonga to the rest of the world, particularly when it turns out that the person who preached against it in the past, is now publicly endorsing it.
5) Nepotism has won a great victory in Tonga and now the people once again will have to fight on, in the hope that one day, nepotism will be eliminated from the workplace.
So what can Tonga do to bring back full democratic practices to the public services in the Kingdom? The answer lies with the Parliament of Tonga.
Fortunately we still have great gentlemen who I have no doubt will raise this issue once Parliament is reconvened in March. Anti-nepotism Law would be great for Tonga. It is time that the Law spelled out explicitly the dos and don'ts when it comes to nepotism. It is time that the legal guidelines and frameworks of what a Prime Minister can and can't do be reviewed and it is time that laws be established to curtail the powers given to the current and future Prime Ministers, in order to prevent this type of event from happening again.
On reflection, had Hon.Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva chosen a non-relative to be his PA, everyone would have been united in singing his praises and commenting on what a good democratic leader he is. But as it happens, his action has left most of us up in arms at the blatant abuse of trust and many around the world are rendered speechless!