I am writing in response to a “Letter to the Editor” written by Sione Mokofisi. I must first say that I share in Mr. Mokofisi’s brief accolade to congratulate Mrs. ‘Akosita Lavulavu on her victory. Mrs. Lavulavu won with 40% more votes than her nearest competitor (ironically the person who was the accuser of her husband). Mrs. Lavulavu’s election stands alone and has nothing to do with the charges against her husband. I should remind Mr. Mokofisi that those charges against Mr. Lavulavu are still under appeal. Apparently the people of Vava’u are more than confident in her abilities and her character.
In his letter, Mr. Mokofisi seeks to apply some “litmus test” or “critical-thinking” to Mrs. Lavulavu suggesting that her male counterparts have undergone that same strict scrutiny. Really? What planet has Mokofisi been living on? Corruption has been rampant in our government. Does anyone believe otherwise? The standards have never been high. The membership of Parliament used to be (and largely still is) based on bloodline; not on “critical-thinking.” How is it that members of Parliament get rich while they are in office?
And now that a woman is elected, all of a sudden we want to closely scrutinize them. We need to “investigate her character more carefully on her own” Mokofisi says. Really? Even if Mr. Lavulavu was guilty (charges still on appeal), are we now saying that the husbands “sins” now become the wives?
Mokofisi says that “we must judge her moral judgement capacity alone” if she is allowed to be in Parliament. If that is the case then before we take a look at Mrs. Lavulavu; let us first apply that “litmus test,” that “critical-thinking” and let us judge the “moral judgement capacity” of the existing 25 members of Parliament! How many do you think would pass that scrutiny? How many have fathered illegitimate children? How many of them pay any kind of support for those children? How many of them pay taxes? How many have used their positions to increase their wealth? How many have used their positions to solve a problem the rest of us would not be able to do? How many of them have taken a bribe or a payoff for some favor? And, if guilty of these or other “character flaws,” then shall we judge their wives because of their actions?
Mr. Mokofisi’s letter is an example of the kind of discrimination and double-standards that have been applied to women here in Tonga for centuries. One thing is for sure; out of all of the corruption, malfeasance, bribery, and incompetence in Parliament that we have all witnessed over the past 100 years; None of it was done by a woman!
Congratulations Mrs. Lavulavu and thank you for being willing to serve. Tonga has had enough male Prime Ministers and look, where we are. My hope is that we will see you break that barrier as well.