King Tupou VI of Tonga has decided that three petitions concerning the government will be referred for urgent investigations into alleged mal-administration, and has also called for urgent adequate funding of the Anti Corruption Commission.
The King has referred one petition to the Commissioner of Police for investigation and possible prosecution of any breaches of Criminal law. All three petitions are to be sent to the Ombudsman who will report back to the king.
The petitions were received on 18, 20 and 21 February 2019 from the Komiti Fakafonua ki hono Fakafepaki’i ‘o e Faihala, a number of Nobles, a number of former members of the Legislative Assembly and former Ministers of the Crown, and a number of Pentecostal denominations.
In a statement issued late this afternoon March 25, the Lord Privy Seal said that His Majesty in Privy Council on Thursday March 21, had made directions in regard to the three petitions concerning His Majesty's Government:
“[a] To Refer the Petitions to the Ombudsman so that, as a matter of urgency he may consider the same, conduct such investigations and take such action as he considers appropriate, and make a determination on any instance of mal-administration which he finds to have been established to his satisfaction: and to report back to His Majesty;
“[b]To Direct His Majesty’s Government, as a matter of urgency, to provide adequate funding for the Anti Corruption Commission effective 1 July 2019, including remuneration for the Commissioner at a Judicial Level salary to be approved by His Majesty; and,
“[c] To Refer the Petitions to the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Commissioner of Police for Investigation and thereafter for:
[i]Prosecution of any breaches of the Criminal Law, where a prima facie case is established;
[ii]Civil Litigation as considered appropriate to uphold the integrity of the Constitution and the Laws of the Kingdom of Tonga;
and to Advise His Majesty, from time to time, on progress therewith.”
The Lord Privy Seal stated that the King had considered the Interim Advice of the Judicial Committee of Privy Council and the Legal Opinion of the Acting Attorney General.
The King had also considered advice by the Committee on Tongan Traditions to the Judicial Committee of Privy Council as to the Petitions with regard to any pertinent issues bearing upon Tongan traditions and Tongan culture will be considered further by His Majesty in Privy Council when it has been received.
Members of the Judicial Committee of Privy Council are The Rt. Hon. Lord Dalgety Q.C. (Chairman), The Rt. Hon. Lord Tupou K.C., Mrs. Linda Simiki Folaumoetu‘i, Hon. Michael Dishington Scott K.C., Mr. Tu’inukutavake Barron Afeaki and Ms. Mele V Folau (Principal Clerk).
Members of the Committee on Tongan Traditions is are the Rev. Dr. ‘Ahio (Chairman), Lord Vaea, Dowager Lady Fusitu‘a, Takapu, the Rev. Dr. Tevita Tonga Mohenoa Puloka and The Hon. ‘Alematea Vaha‘i (Secretary).
The three petitions are among a number public petitions presented to the King in 2019.
There have been previous allegations of mal-administration.
In August 2017 King Tupou VI used his Royal prerogative to dissolve Tonga’s Legislative Assembly and commanded that a new election be held after considering advice from the Lord Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Parliament closed down with the Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva and his Cabinet becoming a caretaker government. Howeer, Pohiva and all nine members his Cabinet were re-elected in the November 2017 General Election.