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Opinion

Unconstitutional: ethnic policing of flea market?

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

The Tonga Broadcasting Commission’s news bulletin on 1 May 2018 featured a short segment on the CEO of the Ministry of Labour, Edgar Cocker. According to Mr Cocker they had enlisted the assistance of the Tonga Police in closing stalls at the flea market that were operated by Asian vendors because they breached the law regarding the location of businesses, and that “the flea market was set up only for Tongans.”

Surely, that action contravenes the Constitution of Tonga which states clearly that “the law shall be the same for all the people of this land.”

Mr Cocker identified his department’s main problem is the fact that "these Chinese, Indians, Bangladeshi and Bosnians", all have Tongan passports. But how can that be a problem when our laws are colour-blind and not ethnic-specific and are meant to be applied universally?

I invite Mr Cocker to look at his record on the subject of Asian businesses in the media in just this year alone. And remind him of Proverbs 27:20 “Human desire is like the world of the dead – there is always room for more.” 

- Kotoni Fonua, Kolofo’ou, Nuku’alofa, Tonga.