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An open letter to the PM, Rev. Dr Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Lavulavu couple stand next to Hon. Rev. Dr Pohiva Tu‘i‘onetoa (68), after he was elected as Tonga’s new Prime Minister by 23 elected MPs in a secret ballot on 27 September 2019.

Dear Prime Minister, Reverend Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa,

Thank you for explaining to us, Tongan people, the Act of Constitution of Tonga (Amendment Act) 2013 during your recent video broadcast.  And thank you for reminding everyone that the Constitution in Tonga is not the same as any other country in the world.

Yes, I understand why you want to confirm that you have no right to intervene in such matter - because of the Constitution. You gave a good presentation, though a bit tense, nervous or emotional perhaps; but you did well to get through reading out your statement without any question from the only journalist present.

However, after all the hard work that you put in, you flipped and spoilt it all by your allegation that many other schools in Tonga had involved in similar criminal activities, especially the church schools, just like 'Etuate and 'Akosita’s school! In other words, you confirmed that Etuate and Akosita Lavulavu did commit serious crimes but you didn’t understand why they were the only ones that have been prosecuted!

This is a serious accusation! something that I find absolutely unbelievable; that the Rev. Prime Minister of Tonga confirmed on air that yes, other schools did it too! Yet during your years as a civil servant, you did nothing about it?  This must be investigated and taken to the Court of Law. You must report this to the Police, Rev. Prime Minister, so that a full investigation can be carried out.

TVET aided by overseas taxpayers

Another important point to highlight here is that you never said once during your broadcast where the funds which were fraudulently claimed by 'Etuate and 'Akosita Lavulavu came from. My understanding is that Australia and New Zealand send annual financial aids to pay for TVET school programmes in Tonga. So, thank you to all those countries around world for providing grants to Tonga so that the government can function properly. In that respect, I would like to point out that foreign aids actually come from foreign taxpayers’ pocket abroad. Therefore, it is vitally important that financial dealings must always be well documented and funds are spent according to agencies’ agreements.

The Lavulavus’ court cases do not enhance the government reputation and the way the political elite in the Kingdom operate. Sad to say Prime Minister, that in your attempt to make light of the Lavulavus’ guilty verdict, you cunningly brought to the attention of the public and the world, that other schools were involved in these criminal activities.  It is now your duty as the PM of Tonga to get a full investigation going. You owe it to all foreign aid donors, to explain what Tonga had done with the funds and you owe it to every school that you have now accused, by giving them a chance to clear their names and set the record straight.

And finally, I personally accept the Act of Constitution of Tonga (Amendment Act) 2013. Let us all wait and see what happens next; hopefully it will go through the legal system before the next election!

Faka’apa’apa atu

Senolita Swan

Ref.: Lavulavu couple plundered education fund, used political connections to steal money, Judgment finds


Well said Senolita Swan. Whatever happened to accountability for the funds that the Government collects from the hard working taxpayers including remittances from Tongans in the diaspora? No wonder HM King Tupou 6 had better things to do than to meet the PM & the Speaker when they requested an audience to respond to Tupou 6's excellent, spot on and inspiring speech which highlighted the problems facing Tongans and mixed Up dongans at this point in time. It seemed from the message from our parliamentarians was that they were putting everything in the hands of the Christian God. I was reminded that HM Tupou 4 was instrumental in promoting relations with the Muslim countries when he organised Pacific Island countries to visit Libya during the time of Kaddafi. Members of the Pacific delegation established mosques in their countries when they returned. Tuvalu has a mosque, PNG several. And if you go down to Tukutonga, just after the NZ High Commissioner's residence, you will see a few non-christian religions have built houses of worship there. ...There are quite a few Tongan women married to Muslim, Hindu, Sikh men in Fiji who have children, grandchildren etc. And students at the USP, Fiji School of Medicine, Pacific Theological College, Seventh Day Adventists Fulton College has also generated some mixed couplings. So please PM Rev Dr Pohiva and your fellow Pollies (Parliamentarians), try to be more inclusive by practising the Gospel of Love, Care and Compassion rather than that of Fear, Hatred and Divisiveness. Are we ever going to learn whether there was money allocated to be spent for the South Pacific Games that was supposed to be held in Tonga? If there was money allocated (I remember that a small percentage of the remittances from Tongans in the diaspora was earmarked for this) I suggest that this money be handed over to Dr Mapa Puloka and his staff to help the treatment of the increasing number of addicts hooked on ice and the other mental health problems that seem to be rampant in the kingdom. A big Vinaka and Blessings from Bula Land, Stephen Vete (74 year old born in the Year of the Rat!) Just before I take my medicine, I would like to share the following Winston Churchill quote "The further backward you can look, the further forward you will see."