WE DID NOT CHOOSE DEMOCRACY

Posted: 05-Aug-2020 02:13 PM

Editorials

“If Tupou did not use this last chance for reform, there must be complete change”. Those were the words of the British High Commissioner to the Pacific Sir. Everard Im Thurn serving in the British Colonial Office from 1904 to 1910. Those remarks came about in a meeting with the King Tupou II and the chiefs on 10th December 1904.

It was since the year 1901 that the Tongan government was deemed to be bankrupt; where financial deficiencies were frequent in the Treasury and the Customs accounts could not be collected. The King Tupou II, his Premier Siosateki Veikune, the Treasurer Fotu Veikune and the Premier’s Jewish friends the Hutters were told to be responsible for the country’s ill-fated government and maladministration.  

The resolutions provided by the British High Commissioner to the King were to firstly remove Siosateki Veikune from his Premiership and remove his son Fotu Veikune form the Treasury and have the Marines of H.M.S Clio to escort them to the dispatch ship Ranadi to be exiled to Fiji. Secondly, for the King to appoint Mateialona as Premier and new high officials to be appointed into government. Thirdly, that the Treasury and the Customs office will be audited annually according to the constitution and with the support of the British consulate. Lastly, Sir. Im Thurn advised that the King and the Premier must not make decisions without the consent of Cabinet and it was for the good of the King and the chiefs that all Tongans should be allowed to speak freely and frankly with him. This incident perhaps would be regarded to have paved the way for testing checks and balances on the powers of the King.

More than 80 years later the push for more reforms in Tonga’s government became more vigorous and exuberant. The most influential advocator for reform was the late Prime Minister Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva; who had continuously exposed corruption in high places in the Tongan government and relentless call for greater accountability to the people of Tonga. During his second term in Parliament in 1992 he and his advocates organized a national convention on the Tongan Constitution. Many political and constitutional experts from Tonga and abroad were invited to the event and to share their inputs in a consultative platform; that would eventually form the basis for constitutional changes to be presented to the people and the government. The main parts of the outcome from this convention resorted to the need for more democratic principles to be introduced into the constitution of Tonga and to have an elected government.

Although, the indulgence of democratic ideals were in the forefront of the reform agenda ‘Akilisi Pohiva did not believe in democracy. In a special interview about the event of 1992 by Pesi Fonua asking ‘Akilisi Pohiva why democracy was the form of government they envisage for Tonga. In response ‘Akilisi said “I do not believe in democracy, I believe in good governance but my main concern was accountability”. According to ‘Akilisi any form of government whether a feudal government or a communist one but accountability was an integral part of that government then it was fine. ‘Akilisi’s response demonstrated his pure intentions for good governance, he believes in a government that was accountable, transparent, and in the rule of law. Democracy was the only form of government that is most capable of providing the elements of good governance.

Hence, the response from Akilisi merely suggests that if the King of Tonga and his appointed government could be made accountable, transparent, and where the rule of law applied than it was fine. Unfortunately, in the context of Tonga it would be traditionally and socially unacceptable to make the King accountable to the people. It out of the ordinary if people would be able to criticize the decisions of the King and his government on a daily basis, or to place the King under public scrutiny and ask His Majesty questions in the media press conferences, or to ask the King to report to the Legislative Assembly on an annual basis, or to tell the King how decisions of his government are affecting people’s lives, or even for the King to show people the process in which he appoints the leaders of the country. Well! what the High Commissioner Im Thurn did not understand at the time that it was socially unacceptable for Tongans to talk to his Majesty about anything concerning the country and to do that would be against the norms of Tongan society.

If the King’s government does not perform to the satisfaction of the people then what can people do about it to fix it? Very little people can do and the little that does are ousted from the norms of Tongan society. People cannot vote for a King, people cannot impeach a King, and people cannot place the King on a no confidence vote. Hence, the need for the establishment of a form of government that would enable good governance to progress while maintaining the King as traditional ruler. The main purpose of the reform process leading up to the 2010 reform constitution was to provide an elected government by the people that would be accountable to the people. The King would become a ceremonial ruler so that people can elect a government where people can criticize the decisions they make from time to time, that people could question them on the media, that the head of government must report to the Legislative Assembly, and where the process of electing our leaders are open and free. We did not choose democracy; we needed democracy.

NA’E ‘IKAI KETAU FILI KETAU TEMOKALATI

“Kapau ‘e ‘ikai ngaue’aki ‘e Tupou ‘ae faingamalie ko ‘eni ke fai ha liliu, pea ‘e fiema’u leva ke fai ha liuliu kakato”. Ko e lea ia ne fakahoko ‘e he Talafekau Lahi ‘a Pilitania Sir. Everard Im Thurn lolotnga ‘ene fakahoko fatongia ‘i he ‘Ofisi Talafekau ‘a Pilitania mei he 1904 ki he 1910. Ko e lea ‘eni na’a ne fakahoko ‘i he fakataha mo e Tama Tu’i Tupou II pea mo e kau Hou’eiki ‘o e fonua ‘i he ‘aho 10 Tisema 1904.

Ko e talu mei he ta’u 1901 ne palopalema fakapa’anga ai ‘ae Pule’anga Tonga ‘o lahi ‘a e mole pa’anga mei he Fale Pa’anga pea ‘ikai ke maau hono tanaki he ‘ofisi tute ‘a e ngaahi tukuhau ‘o e fonua. Ko e Tama Tu’i Tupou II, mo ‘ene Palemia Siosateki Veikune, Minisita Pa’anga Fotu Veikune, pea mo e kaungame’a Siu ‘a e Palemia ko Hutters na’e tukuaki’i ki he ngaahi palopalema ‘i he Pule’anga.

Ko e ngaahi fale’i ne foaki ‘e he Talafekau Lahi ki he ‘Ene ‘Afio Tupou II ke fakahifo ‘a Siosateki Veikune mei hono lakanga Palemia, pea tuku ki tu’a mo hono foha Fotu Veikune mei he Fale Pa’anga. ‘E fakafe’ao ‘e he kau sotia ‘o e H.M.S Clio kinaua ki he vaka Ranadi ke fakamavahe’i kinaua ki Fisi. Ko hono ua ke fokotu’u ‘a Mateilona ki he lakanga Palemia pea fakafo’ou mo e kau Minisita. Ko hono tolu ke ‘atita’i fakata’u ‘a e Fale Pa’anga pea ‘e tokoni mai ki ai ‘a e ‘Ofisi Talafekau Lahi Pilitania. Ko e fale’i faka’osi leva ne fakahoko ‘e Sir. Im Thurn ki he Tu’i pea mo e Palemia ke ‘oua te na fai tu’utu’uni kae ‘oua kuo loto ki ai ‘a e Kapineti, pea ko e me’a ‘e lelei ki he Tu’i mo e kau Hou’eiki ke tukuange ke tau’ataina ‘a e kakai Tonga kotoa ke nau lea mo talanoa mahino kiate ia. Ne hange leva kuo hoko ‘a e fokotu’utu’u ko ‘eni ke ne tofa ‘a e hala ko ia ki hono vakai’i mo sivisivi’i ma’u pe ‘a e mafai ‘o e Tu’i.

Hili ange ha ta’u ‘e valungofulu tupu mei ai kuo nga’unu ‘a e teke ki he liliu ‘o to e malohi mo kaukaua ange. Ko e taha ‘o kinautolu ne taaimu’a hono teke liliu ko e Tanagata’eiki Palemia Malolo kuo ne pekia Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva; ‘i he ‘ene faka’ilo ‘a e ngaahi faihala ne hoko ‘i he ngaahi tu’unga ma’olunga ‘o e Pule’anga mo ‘ene tu’u kaivi hono ui ‘a e Pule’anga ke nau taliui ki he kakai ‘o e fonua. ‘I he ta’u 1992 ‘i hono teemi hono ua ‘i he Fale Alea na’a ne fokotu’u ai mo e kakai tokolahi ha Konivesio Fakafonua ke talanga’i ‘a e Konisitutone. Ne fakaafe’i mai ki ai ‘a e kakai mataotao ‘i he konisitutone mo e politikale mei Tonga ni mo muli foki. Ne fakataumu’a ‘a e konivesio ko ‘eni ke ne talanga’i ha ngaahi fokotu’utu’u ki he liliu fakakonisitutone pea tuku atu ki he Pule’anga ke fai ha ngaue ki ai. Ko e taha e ngaahi me’a mahu’inga ne ha mei he konivesio ko ‘eni ko e fiema’u ke fakahu ‘a e ngaahi tokateline fakatemokalati ki he Konisitutone ‘o Tonga pea fili ‘e he kakai ‘a e Pule’anga.

Neongo ko e ngaahi fakakaukau faka-temokalati na’e taafataha ki ai ‘a e ‘asenita ki he liliu ka na’e ‘ikai ke tui ‘a ‘Akilisi ia ki he temokalati. ‘I he faka’eke’eke makehe ‘e Pesi Fonua ‘a ‘Akilisi Pohiva fekau’aki mo e konivesio ne fakahoko mo e ha nai e ‘uhinga ‘oku nau faka’amu ai ki he temokalati. ‘I he tali ‘a ‘Akilisi na’a ne pehe “’Oku ‘ikai te u tui ki he temokalati, ka ‘oku ou tui ki he pule lelei ka ko e mahu’inga taha ‘a e taliui”. Fakatatau ki he fkamatala ‘a ‘Akilisi na’a ne pehe ai kapau ko ha fa’ahinga fa’unga pule’anga pe ia pe pule fakatu’i pe fakakominiusi ka ‘oku kanoloto ai ‘a e taliui ki he kakai pea te ne fiemalie pe ki ai. ‘Oku ha mei he tali ‘a ‘Akilisi Pohiva ‘a e taumu’a ‘oku ‘i hono loto ke ma’u ‘a e pule lelei ke kakato ai a e taliui, ‘ata ki tu’a, mo e pule ‘a e lao. Kaekehe foki ‘oku ‘ikai ha fa’unga pule ia te ne lava fakahoko lelei ‘a e ngaahi ‘elemeniti ‘o e pule lelei ka ko e ofi taha pe ki ai ko e temokalati.

‘Oku mahino mei he tali ‘a ‘Akilisi ‘a e fakakaukau pehe kapau ko e Tu’i ‘o Tonga pea mo ‘ene Pule’anga na’a ne fili ‘oku lava ke nau taliui ki he kakai pea mo ‘ata ki tu’a ‘enau ngaue pea mahino mo e pule ‘a e lao pea ‘e sai pe ia. Ka ko e pango he ko e tu’unga tukufakaholo mo e fakasosiale ‘a Tonga ‘oku fakamatatu’a ia pea mo ngalivale ia ke ‘ai ke taliui ‘a e Tu’i ki he kakai. ‘Oku ha faka ngalivale ia ke fehu’ia ma’u pe ‘e he kakai ha fai tu’utu’uni ‘a e Tu’i mo ‘ene Pule’anga, pe ke nofo ‘a e kakai ke sivisivi’i ma’u pe ‘a e fua fatongia ‘a e Tu’i mo ‘ene Pule’anga, pe ke tali fehu’i ‘a e Tu’i mo ‘ene Pule’anga ki he mitia, pe ‘e lava ke lipooti  fakata’u ‘a e Tu’i ki he Fale Alea, pe ‘e lava ke fakaha mai ‘e he Tu’i ki he kakai ‘a e founga ‘oku ne fili ‘aki ‘a e kau taki ‘o e fonua. Ko e me’a ne ‘ikai ma a’usia ‘e he Talafekau Lahi Sir. Im Thurn ko e natula tukufakaholo ko ia ‘o Tonga ‘e faingata’a ia ke taliui ‘a e Tu’i ki he kakai, pea ka hoko ha me’a pehe pea taku ‘oku ta’etaau ia mo e anga fakatonga.

Kapau ‘oku ta’e fakafiemalie ‘a e founga pule ‘a e Pule’anga ‘a e Tu’i pea ko e ha leva ha me’a ke lava e kakai ‘o fakatonutonu? Si’i ha tui ‘e lava ha taha fakatonutonu pea ko ia tene tu’u ke fakatonutonu ‘e tala ‘e he kakai Tonga ‘oku ne angatu’u mo e ‘ulungaanga ‘oku ta’efe’unga. He ‘ikai lava e kakai ‘o fili ha nau Tu’i, he ‘ikai lava e kakai ke faka’ilo faka-Fale Alea ha Tu’i, he ‘ikai lava ‘a e kakai ‘o tuku ki tu’a ha Tu’i. Ko ia na’e fiema’u ai ke tau fatu mo fokotu’utu’u ha fa’unga pule te ne ma’u ‘a e pule lelei. Ko e taumu’a lahi ia ne fai ki ai ‘a e liliu fakapolitikale mo fakakonisitutone ‘i he 2010 ke fili ‘e he kakai honau Pule’anga, pea taliui ‘a e Pule’anga ko ia ki he kakai kae hoko ‘a e Tu’i ‘o fakalangilangi ‘o ‘ikai ha‘ane kaunga ki hono fakalele ‘o e Puleanga. Ke tau malava ‘o fokotu’u ha Pule’anga ‘e faingofua ki he kakai ke nau sivisivi’i ‘enau fua fatongia, ke lava he kakai ‘o fakaanga’i ‘a e ngaue ‘a e pule’anga, ke lava ‘a e kakai ‘o fakafehu’ia e pule’anga ki ha ngaahi me’a ‘oku kaunga ki he fonua, ke lava ‘a e kakai fili ha pule’anga ke taliui ki he Fale Alea, pea ko ha pule’anga ‘oku ma’a ‘a e founga ‘oku filifili ai he kakai honau kau taki ke nau fakalele ‘a e pule’anga. Na’e ‘ikai ke tau fili ke tau temokalati, na’a tau fiema’u ke tau temokalati.

 

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