Critical letters recently sent to the Hon Prime Minister accuse him and his government of lack of disciplinary action against one or more of his Ministers, who are alleged to have made inappropriate financial dealings in the previous government.
The allegations have been raised in letters from former Minister of Justice, Clive Edwards, as well as ‘Isileli Pulu and ‘Eliesa Fifita, who were candidates in the 2014 general election.
Major components of issues pertaining to the allegations relate to three things.
1. A claim there are Ministers in the Cabinet, who are alleged to have acted corruptively.
2. A claim the Hon Prime Minister is reluctant to take action against any of his Ministers for fear it would destabilize his government.
3. A claim that the process by which Cabinet gave approval for Tonga to ratify CEDAW was rushed and lacked appropriate consultation.
In a letter responding to the allegations of misconduct by one of his Ministers, the Hon Prime Minister stated that the alleged activities took place between 2010 and 2014. This was during the term of the previous government.
“I question the reasons behind raising the issue now, and not when it is alleged to have happened, during the term of the previous government. The accused Minister was also a Minister then,” the Hon Prime Minister wrote in his response to Mr. Clive Edwards.
“You should have raised this in the previous government, and make this known to the people,” the Hon Prime Minister added.
The Hon Prime Minister also said that he has been pressured to take action and punish the Minister when in fact the previous government should have taken responsibility to deal with this issue, if it was true.
Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva became Prime Minister on 1 January 2014, and appointed his Ministers shortly thereafter. The Hon Prime Minister insisted that there has not been any infringement of the law or corruptive dealings by any of his Ministers since they have become the government.
“I am responsible for whatever takes place during my term as Prime Minister, not what took place in the previous government, as alleged,” he said.
As for CEDAW, the Hon Prime Minister said it is a work in progress under his government, and is still open for further dialogue and consultation concerning this important issue.
Issued by The Prime Minister's Office 3⅓/2015.