I have in possession the latest “Hon. Prime Minister’s Letter to Acting Attorney General,” Mr. ‘Āminiasi Kefu, issued 13 Feb. 2015. It is the latest in a series of fallacious and self-righteous claims made by Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva.
In all seriousness, this is an egregious misuse of Executive power, breaching the “separation of powers” in our Constitution, “three branches of government” model. The Constitution was written in simple language for people like you and me to understand our rights protected by the “three branches of government” model. We are able to watch out for tyrannical politicians who are trying to expand their personal “de facto” authority in government to usurp power illegally.
Since its inception, the 1875 Constitution grants the independence of each branch of government (Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary) separation of powers to protect their independence from each other: (a) “Checks and balances” are a preventive tool to prevent one branch from exerting control or influence on the other branches; (b) it also means they should respect each other’s autonomy; (c) that there are limits to each branch’s powers − avoiding one branch from collecting all ruling powers to itself in a dictatorship.
PM’s Lack-of Integrity is the Problem
Prime Minister Pōhiva seems still on campaigning mode. He is unaware of his fiduciary duties as the stewardship of upholding the integrity of the Executive Branch, the office of Prime Minister. This stewardship includes respecting the integrity of the other two branches in government, thus keeping his nose out of their business.
The Prime Minister scolds Acting Attorney General Kefu accusing him of having “poor integrity.” Mr. ‘Akilisi Pōhiva is not in a position to judge others on moral grounds: “pro-democrat” cronies burnt Nuku‘alofa in 2006; eight (8) people died; hundreds served jail time, and forced government to take out multi-million-dollar loans to rebuild our capital.
(Grammar notes: The letter lambasts Mr. Kefu’s “poor integrity…” This is incorrect English grammar; integrity is an un-countable noun, therefore the correct determiner is “lack-of integrity.” There are no ranks of integrity; one either has integrity or no integrity; there are no poor, low, medium, or higher levels of integrity.)
By crossing over with undue Executive pressure − ostensibly to critique − but it’s public ridicule and undue public consternation of the Judiciary. I see this latest fiasco as an invitation for possible Vote of No-Confidence, and even to be considered an impeachable offense.
The Executive Branch (PMO and Cabinet) must not cross the line drawn by the Constitution on the “separation of powers” of the three branches of government. The integrity of the “separation of powers” prevents the Executive Branch from being granted too much power to create a “tyrant.”
Sione A. Mokofisi
Director: English, Journalism & Languages
Tonga International Academy