Free Speech Forever
Friday, October 15, 2004 - 17:21
It is nearly one year since November 2003 when Tongans lost their right to Freedom of Speech as a defence. After last year's Constitutional amendment, Tonga went back 128 years to the days when people were allowed to speak or to express an opinion only if it was in line with that of their superiors or chiefs. Editor's Comment, by Pesi Fonua
- Read more about Free Speech Forever
- Log in or register to post comments
Political views need more
Political views need more balance - Tupouto'a:
Dear Pesi, I read with much interest your piece about free speech and support your sentiments completely. However, I could not help but wonder what you intend to do with it now that it is unassailable. The glaring difference between the Tongan media and, say, the Fijian, is that I find greater balance in Fiji between political and economic considerations. In Tonga, only political views and comments are given prominence without the balance of economic or commercial considerations.
I can quote three examples. The public campaign and dissatisfaction which led to the winding up Royal Tonga Airlines took place when the fare from Tonga to Auckland was $500 or thereabouts. Now that Royal Tonga Airlines is defunct, and Air New Zealand is ripping off the travelling public with a fare of $1,300 there are no more complaints.
When Shoreline Power brought in an incentive to pay power bills on time by introducing a 10% discount for anyone who paid within 7 days of receiving their account, I received a flood of complaints from members of the public who wanted to know why they were being charged extra! until it was explained that they were being charged less. Now that the discount system has been abolished, and everyone is paying more, there are no more complaints.
Finally, during the very much media orchestrated campaign to keep Fly Niu in the air, nobody seemed to mind that Peau Vava'u was charging a lower fare or that Fly Niu was not in compliance with our Aviation regulations or indeed, had bothered to apply for a license. Further, no one seemed to care that the Dash 8 aircraft might have been more suitable for the Tonga Fiji sector where, after the demise of Royal Tonga Airlines, the fare is now about $700 and would have been far more profitable than trying to fly a $12 million aircraft on the Vava'u sector where they were paying $5000 a trip all up.
Should we not now introduce some balance?
Hooray! Justice prevails -
Hooray! Justice prevails - 'Api Sime
That was a good editorial comment regarding the 'Freedom of Speech” I do not understand why such scholars in the government are trying to bring the dark ages to exercise in the 21st century era, it won't and will never work esp. in a small island with high communications access, academically filled people, etc. Hooray, and hopefully that our British court connection will remain for a long long time in the Kingdom. Justice will always prevail.- 'Api Sime, USA.
Political balance must be
Political balance must be introduced from the top - Tupou Layton:
In respect to Prince Tupouto'a and his political views. It was a great joy to hear the future King of Tonga support your article about Free Speech in Tonga.
Thank you. On the behalf of all Tongans and our children we thank you for providing us with a great understanding of the past 128 years in Tonga and what we as Tongans should be doing in 2004.
Getting back to Tupouto'a's question: Should we not now introduce some balance on political views?
I believe before you can ask for balance in political views in Tonga, it must be introduced from the Top Government Leaders of Tonga. Three examples were given and led me to believe that the future King of Tonga is better off running the Government now than his brother the Prime Minister.
Letting us believe that the Royal Tongan Airline was winding down because the fare from Auckland was $500 is not an excuse for poor management, and mis-use of funds. I believe if Tupouto'a was running RTA, none of these problems happen now. I think the future King is much wiser when it comes to running businesses in Tonga, he is showing how creative and strong he is now, by reaching out and create more business for all Tongans. I admire all his companies a great deal. I think he will make a great King for all Tongans, as long as he and the leaders of Tonga will not agree to sell Tongan land to the Chinese.
I believe his Shoreline Power company is doing a great job, but still needs improvement in terms of pricing, it should be affordable for the average Tongan people. It is much stronger [voltage] than USA power, perhaps it's safer to lower it for the Tongan people's safety. He needs to charge people according to what they can afford, the higher price for the rich and lower the price for the poor.
As for his latest airline company, I have no problems with it, if he is helping his Tongan people, then more power to him. If the Fly Niu violated Aviation Regulation, then Tupouto'a Air Line should be allowed and receive all Tongans full support to operate a full service.
I believe it is up for the Future King now to come down and help his Tongan People, bring all Tongans back Together before it's too late. The people of Tonga need to be explained and educated about the truth. If the Prime Minister is not answering the people's questions then it led them to believe that he is hiding something and he does not care about the Tongan people.
I urge you Tupouto'a to please come down and help your people, explain the truth to them, allow freedom of speech in Tonga and they will respect and lift you up like a King of all King. Build your future country with many jobs, allow young educated Tongan to hold jobs, create new ideas, and build the economy and you will see more balance in political views, peaceful, and more happier Tongans.
Most Tongans are more unhappy now, and divided because of the Government conflict with Freedom of Speech, mis-used all funding from overseas that was supposed to help build the economy in Tonga, mis-use of Tongan Trust Funds, and much more corrupted behaviours. I believe you can own as many businesses in Tonga, as long as you help your own people, build the economy and lift poverty and be free to create weatlh and achieve happiness.
Thank you again, Pesi, for voicing free speech for the people of Tonga, and many thanks and respect to Prince Tupouto'a for demonstrating his political views to all Tongans.
A great sense of peace in Pesi's article, led me to believe that it might be hope for the Kingdom of Tonga, if the Crown Prince reach out for all Tongans. - Tupou Layton
Tupouto‘a's comment misleading, says Air NZ - Rick Osbourne, Air New Zealand:
I was disappointed to read Tupouto‘a's comment on October 18, “Political views need more balance” which accused Air New Zealand of “ripping off the travelling public with a fare of $1300” See Tupouto'a's letter. Like the letter's author, Air New Zealand supports the need for “balance” and is therefore compelled to respond to statements of a misleading nature.
Air New Zealand's Pacific Fares offer low year-round airfares for tourists, friends and family travelling between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and also between the Islands and Australia.
Pacific fares are one-way to enable customers to mix and match their fares with the required level of flexibility. There are four fare categories; Pacific Smart Saver, Pacific Flexi Saver, Pacific Fully Flexi and Pacific Business Class.
On average, 35% of seats available are in the lowest Smart Saver category. Lead-in Pacific Smart Saver fares from Auckland to Tonga are available for as low as $NZ199 one way.
Airfares from Tonga to Auckland are available for as low as TOP$270 one way. In peak travel season, the return airfare could be as high as TOP1378 for a last minute fully flexi fare but the majority of seats available year round are sold in the Smart Saver and Flexi Saver tiers which range between TOP540 to TOP972 return.
These new low fares are possible because of fundamental changes to Air New Zealand's short haul operation. These changes include the introduction of more economic aircraft, a programme to reduce the airline's cost of sales and greater aircraft utilisation.
It is worthwhile noting that the $500 fares offered by Royal Tongan Airlines were never commercially sustainable due to the fact that the airline's operating costs were higher than the Air New Zealand operation.
Air New Zealand, and its predecessor TEAL, has proudly served the travelling needs of Tonga since 1953. Competition may come and go but Air New Zealand remains committed to serving the Tongan market.
Yours sincerely - Rick Osborne, Air New Zealand Manager (Govt and Intl. Relations)
Monopoly air policy was
Monopoly air policy was unknown - Wayne Madden:
I read with interest the comment by H.R.H Crown Prince Tupouto‘a's comment penned on October 18 with respect to Fly Niu Limited (FNL) and as I was but for a short time Fly Niu Limited's business advisor the following may be of interest.
Firstly, to my knowledge FNL or more specifically Air National Corporate Limited (ANCL) the Dash-8 operator and holder of a 90-day Foreign Air Operators Certificate (FAOC) had at no stage during its brief period of domestic service failed to comply with Ministry of Civil Aviation Regulations. The fact that FNL was ordered by the courts to cease operations in mid-September 2004, some 30 days short of ANCL…s original FAOC expiry was due to successful legal action brought by the Government of Tonga and proprietors of Peau O Vava'u (PoV) with respect to the Government of Tonga's new domestic monopoly air services policy.
Secondly under legal advisement FNL didn't apply for licence in respect of Government of Tonga…s new domestic monopoly air services policy introduced and passed through Privy Council on 30 July 2004. Not withstanding this it was most unfortunate the Government of Tonga didn't provide adequate and timely notice of monopoly policy before issuing FAOC to PoV/ Pionair and FNL/ ANCL just one month earlier in June 2004. If applicants had been made aware of impending monopoly policy before original FAOC application they would have had opportunity to conduct appropriate due diligence with regard to investment and political risk.
Following the collapse of RTA anyone with …half-a-brain… would have decided against making substantial investment in a domestic airline given monopoly policy, political realities, and ownership of PoV. It was the absence of critical information to make informed business decisions at a critical time that proved strategically and financially fatal for FNL. The rest is history, and some how in all of this I cannot but think that Tonga has become the lesser for it.
Finally Dash-8 aircraft operating costs for TBU/VAV sector were T$2,733.33 per trip, the Dash-8 ECR200 was and still is an economically viable domestic airliner as per lease terms negotiated by FNL.
Merry Christmas - Wayne Madden