Posted: 12-Oct-2021 03:33 PM


It has been a year since the passing of Tonga’s Prime Minister the Late Honourable Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva. On his one year Remembrance Day many tributes have come from different parts of the world to honour his contributions to democracy not only in Tonga and the Pacific region, but for the world. One of his greatest accomplishments was the call for more accountability in Tonga’s feudal government. The struggle to bring about greater participation in a government where power was concentrated in the hands of a few. By 2013 the recognition of his accomplishments was awarded to him the Defender of Democracy by the Parliamentarians for Global Action.

‘Akilisi Pohiva appealed to an idea whereby the Tongan people would be able to have more participation in their own government through democratic elections. Whereby people could be able to influence the decision making on the hard earned taxes they collect. An idea whereby a participatory government will bring about quality leaders whom will perform their duties with exceptional credibility and whom people can trust. If leaders do not uphold to perform their duties then people can easily replace them through elections. An idea for Tonga to have a government with greater public accountability, transparency, and where the rule of law exists. Those were the ideas he had envisioned for Tonga.

Unfortunately, for those who wish to follow in his footsteps are finding it difficult to do so, and his party members are somehow disoriented. Some of the supporters of the Friendly Islands Democratic Party have become frustrated and disintegrated. Some members have developed a more rigid expression to claim the ideas of democracy as belonging to them only and that ‘Akilisi’s vision was their ultimate goal. So for those whom did not share these views suddenly became the enemy. 

The Friendly Islands Democratic Party has been a victim of a political power vacuum, consumed by individualism and the belief that getting re-elected and staying in power is the only goal. It leaves the nations interests on hold and the public without any strong representation while they warm up to their seats. There is a lack of leadership in the party, and there is no sense of direction amongst the supporters of the party. To certain incidents where some party members have magically self-appointed themselves to dictate the candidates for elections, the policies and the directions that the party should take. It so created an internal war of thoughts and opinions about who is right and who is wrong. It is a chaotic mess that should be fixed immediately prior to the next general election. The danger is that everyone is talking and nobody is listening. And sadly, the goals and ideas ‘Akilisi had stood for; are somewhat lost in the midst of this drama. 

In 1990 ‘Akilisi outlined the reform agenda in a special interview with Matangi Tonga. It demonstrated the plans for changes in Tonga’s political system. The Pro-Democracy Movement (PDM) which is now known as the Friendly Islands Democratic Party was formed to implement the tasks laid out in those plans. PDM was chaired by Fr. Seluini ‘Akau’ola and vice chair Rev. Simote Vea and the committee members set out programs for public workshops to discuss democratic reforms. The PDM would conduct community consultations and national conventions on political and constitutional reform. They would also schedule kava sessions in villages just to have a more informal conversation with people. Since 2010 the PDM was transformed into the now Friendly Islands Democratic Party to cater for the new electoral system.

He also mentioned in the interview that the key for any success in the democratization process is educating the people. This strategy has worked in many countries around the world with their transition towards democracy over years and years of reform. Every leader will come and go, but the vision of good governance for Tonga will still remain. Anyone within the future generations who cherishes these ideals will pick up the banter and continue the journey. 

When asked if there is any success in the work that the PDM is doing; ‘Akilisi’s response was that in order to assess the work they were doing would actually come to fruition in 20 to 50 years from then. ‘Akilisi said that democracy is inevitable and changes will come, his job was only to facilitate that process for the next generation.
So! If this timing is right, then we should be half way through by now.

The significance of the 1990 interview was not only that people could see ‘Akilisi’s plans and the work done in order to fulfil them. Yet, the one most relevant statement he made in this interview had signalled a warning to future leaders, especially to the Friendly Island’s Democratic Party. An organization who loses its purpose “….is like a ship sailing at the mercy of the currents….” the captain and the mates are not communicating, the crew are tirelessly working without any direction, and the passengers, well! They still have no clue where they are going. 

Every political movement in history were all different and its leaders like Gandhi, Mandela, and Martin Luther King all had different approaches. But they had one thing in common; they had a map that showed us where we are, where we are going, and how we will get there. Maybe it’s time that the Friendly Island’s Democratic Party returns to the approaches held by their predecessors. Stop gambling for votes and getting caught in an endless power struggle. They should continue the tasks of educating the people about the ideas envisioned by ‘Akilisi Pohiva and how we can build on those ideas and improve them on the way forward. 

The Friendly Island’s Democratic Party is now leaderless movement which is lacking both identity and purpose, so have lost its direction. The only solution is to return to the foundation of the party which is the people. Establish a people’s committee that merely resembles the one formerly lead by Fr. Seulini ‘Akau’ola and Rev. Simote Vea but with additional tasks, to develop political candidates for the long run, conduct political campaigns, and provide checks and balances on elected members of Parliament. They will continue the reform agenda with a well outlined plan, and guide people towards those goals. That is a dedication to democracy.


Kuo lava ‘eni ‘ae ta’u ‘e taha kakato hili ange ‘ae pekia ‘ae tanga’eiki Palemia Malolo ‘o Tonga Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva. ‘I he fakamanatua hono ta’u taha ne holo mai ‘ae ngaahi popoaki kehekehe mei he ngaahi tapa kehekehe ‘o mamani koe hounga’ia ‘i he ‘ene ngaahi lava me’a ‘i he temokalati, ‘o ‘ikai ngata pe ‘i Tongani moe Pasifiki kae pehe ki tu’apule’anga foki. Koe taha e ngaahi lava me’a ma’ongo’onga na’a ne a’usia ‘i hono feinga’i ke taliui ‘ae pule’anga kihe kakai ‘oe fonua. Koe ngaue lahi ke a’usia ai ‘ae fakakaukau ke malava ke kau atu ‘ae kakai ‘oe fonua ki hono fakalele honau pule’anga, kae ‘oua ‘e pukepuke pe ‘ae mafai pule he nima ‘o ha ki’i ni’ihi tokosi’i. Koia ‘i he 2013 ne faka’ilonga’i ai ‘ene ngaahi lava me’a ‘o foaki kiate ia ‘ae pale koe Defender of Democracy ‘e he Fakataha’anga ‘oe ngaahi Fale Alea ‘o Mamani.  

Na’e polepole ‘a ‘Akilisi Pohiva ‘i he ngaahi fakakaukau ‘o pehe ‘oku totonu ma’ae kakai Tonga kenau kau ki hono fakalele honau pule’anga ‘o fakafou ‘i he fili faka-temokalati. Ke kau ‘ae kakai he faitu’utu’uni kihe tukuhau ‘oku nau tanaki. Koe fakakaukau ‘e malava ke filifili atu ‘ae kau taki lelei taha ‘i he fonua kenau fakahoko fatongia ‘i he tu’unga ma’olunga taha pea ‘oku falala foki ‘ae kakai kiate kinautolu. Pea ka ‘oku ‘ikai taau ‘ae kau taki pea ‘oku malava ‘ae kakai kenau tuku ki tu’a pea fetongi ‘ae kau taki. Koe fakakaukau ke taliui kakato ‘ae pule’anga kihe kakai, ke ‘ata ki tu’a ‘enau ngaue, pea ke pule ma’u pe ‘ae lao. Koe ngaahi fakakaukau ‘eni na’e hoko ko ‘ene visone ma’a Tonga.

Kae pango he ko kinautolu koia ‘oku nau faka’amu kenau muiaki ‘ae halafononga koia ‘oku hange ‘oku nau faingata’ia hono fakahoko, pea koe kau memipa ‘i he ‘ene paati ‘oku nau moveuveu. Kae iku atu moe kau poupou ‘oe Paati Temokalati ‘Otu motu Anga’ofa (PTOA) kenau movete mo feke’ike’i. Koe taupotu taha leva ia kuo iku kiai ‘ae ni’ihi ‘oe kau memipa ‘oku heva ‘enau fakakaukau ‘o nau tala koe ngaahi visone ne tofa ‘e ‘Akilisi koe me’a ia ‘a kinautolu pe ia. Koe taha kotoa pe ‘e ‘ikai ke nau fakakaukau tatau mo kinautolu pea tala koe fakatupu fili.
Kuo fihia ‘ae PTOA he tautoho mafai pe ko hai tene tataki ‘ae paati hili ‘ae mama’o atu ‘a honau taki, pea kuo ka’anga hono kau memipa he fokotu’utu’u mafai moe fakamafana honau sea kihe fili hoko kae mole ai ‘ae ‘amanaki lelei ‘oe fonua. Telia na ‘oku tonounou faka-taki ‘a kinautolu ‘oku taki ‘i he PTOA, pea fakafokifa pe kuo ‘asi hake ni’ihi ia ‘o tala koe taki ‘oe PTOA pe kinautolu pea tenau fai tu’utu’uni mai kihe kakai ‘ae taha ke kanititeiti kihe Fale Alea, tenau fokotu’utu’u mai moe ngaahi tu’utu’uni ngaue, moe founga fakahoko ngaue ‘oku totonu ke fou ai ‘ae PTOA kihe kaha’u. ‘O hoko ai ‘ae moveuveu fakalotofale moe fetaa’aki pe ko hai ‘oku tonu ange ‘ene fokotu’utu’u moe fakakaukau. Hange kuo mole ‘ae taki pea taumu’avalea ‘ae kau muimui. 

Ka koe palopalema ia ‘oku totonu ke nau solova ‘o kapau ‘oku nau loto ke hoko atu ‘ae ngaahi asenita kihe liliu faka-temokalati ‘i he fili ka hoko. He koe palopalema lahi taha koe tokolahi e kakai ‘oku lea, kae ‘ikai ha taha ia ke fanongo. Pea hoko ia ke ta’omia ‘ae ngaahi fakakaukau ne mateaki’i ‘e ‘Akilisi, ‘i he funga ‘oe ngaahi fetokehekehe‘aki ko ‘eni.

‘I he ta’u 1990 ne fuofua e’a mai ai ‘ae ‘asenita kihe liliu fakapolitikale ‘i ha faka’eke’eke makehe ‘o ‘Akilisi Pohiva pea moe Matangi Tonga. Ne fakaha ai ‘ae ‘uhinga hono fokotu’u ‘ae Pro-Democracy Movement (PDM) ‘aia ‘oku hokoatu ‘e he PTOA he ‘ahoni, ke fakahoko ‘e he PDM ‘ae ngaahi ngaue kuo palani kiai hono paotoloaki ‘oe liliu fakapolitikale. Koe PDM na’e Sea ai ‘ae tangata’eiki Patele Seluini ‘Akau’ola, Tokoni Sea kiai ‘a Rev. Simote Vea pea moe komiti ‘o nau fokotu’utu’u ‘ae ngaahi polokalama ngaue fakafonua ki hono talanga’i ‘ae temokalati. Ne fakahoko foki ‘e he PDM ha ngaahi polokalama talatalanoa moe ngaahi tukui kolo, moe ngaahi konivesio fakafonua ‘o fekau’aki mo ‘enau palani ngaue kihe liliu faka-politikale moe liliu faka-konisitutone ma’a Tonga. Pea taimi lahi na’a nau ‘a’ahi kihe ngaahi fai’anga faikava he ngaahi kolo ‘o ma’u kava mo talatalanoa ai pe moe matu’a. ‘I he 2010 leva ne liliu ai ‘ae PDM kihe PTOA koe makatu’unga he fili fakavahenga iiki.

Na’e toe fakaha foki ‘e ‘Akilisi ‘i he faka’eke’eke ko ‘eni ‘ae founga ‘e lava ai ‘ae liliu faka-temokalati ‘o fakafou ia hono ‘ako’i kihe kakai. Koe founga tatau pe ia ne ‘osi fakahoko ‘i he ngaahi fonua lahi ‘i mamani ne nau ‘osi fou ‘i he liliu faka-temokalati. Ne fehu’ia kiate ia pe kuo ne vakai ki ha ola ‘enau ngaue koia pea tali ‘e ‘Akilisi; koe founga ki hono vakai’i ‘ae ola ‘oe ngaue koia ‘e toki ha sino ia ha ta’u ‘e 20 kihe 50 mei he ‘aho koia. Na’a ne pehe foki koe temokalati kuo pau ke hoko ia pea koe liliu ‘e pau ke a’u mai, ka ko hono fatongia pe ko hono tataki mo fakafaingamalie ‘ae halafononga koia kihe liliu ma’ae to’utangata ka hoko.

Pea kapau ‘oku tonu ‘ae fakafuofua kihe taimi na’a ne fakaha koe ta’u ‘e 20 kihe 50 mei ai, pea taa kuo tau laka hake ‘i he vaeua’anga malie he ‘aho ni.

Koe mahu’inga ‘oe faka’eke’eke makehe ko ‘eni he na’e ha mahino mai ai ‘ae palani ngaue ‘ae PDM ne fakaha ‘e ‘Akilisi pea moe ngaahi ngaue na’e fakahoko ke a’usia ‘ae ngaahi taumu’a koia. Ka na’a ne toe na’ina’i pe ki ha fa’unga pule ‘oku mole ‘ene kaveinga “……’Oku ne hange tofu pe ha vaka ‘oku tekina pe he ‘au…..” koe ‘Eiki Vaka moe kau Meti ‘oku ‘ikai tenau feongoongoi, ‘oku ongosia ‘ae kau kauvaka he ngaue ka ‘oku ‘ikai ha taumu’a ‘enau ngaue, si’i kau pasese moe fakaongoongo pe ko ‘etau folau koaa ki fe?

Koe ngaahi liliu fakapolitikale lalahi kuo hoko ‘i he hisitolia ‘o mamani na’e kehekehe kotoa peia, pea koe kau taki hange ko Gandhi, Mandela, mo Martin Luther King na’a nau founga kehekehe pe kinautolu. Ka koe me’a pe ‘e taha na’a nau fai tatau ai; he na’e ‘iai ‘enau mape folau ‘oku ne fakahinohino ‘ae feitu’u ‘oku tau ‘iai, feitu’u ‘oku totonu ketau fononga kiai, pea moe founga te tau a’usia ‘ai ‘ae feitu’u koia. Na’a kuo taimi ke foki ‘ae PTOA kihe ngaahi founga na’e fakahoko ‘e kinautolu na’a nau kamata’i mai ‘ae ngaue. Tuku aa e fakamafana sea ke toutou hu pe ki loto moe tauhele mafai pe ko hai ‘ia nautolu ‘e Palemia mo ma’u lakanga. ‘Oku totonu kenau foki kihe founga moe sipinga hono teke ‘ae ngaahi fakakaukau na’e faka’amu kiai ‘a ‘Akilisi Pohiva, pea toki tanaki atu pe kiai ha ngaahi ngaue fo’ou ‘o fakama’opo’opo ‘ae hala fononga.

Kuo hoko ‘ae PTOA koe fo’i fa’unga ‘oku ‘ikai tataki lelei pea mole ‘a hono makatu’unga pea mo hono taumu’a. Koe solova’anga pe ke foki ‘ae PTOA ki hono tupu’anga ka ko hono makatu’unga ‘aia ‘oku ‘i he kakai. Fokotu’u ha komiti pule ‘ae kakai hange koia ne ‘iai ‘a Patele Seluini ‘Akau’ola pea mo Faifekau Simote Vea mo ha ngaahi fatongia fo’ou’ ‘o hange koe teuteu’i ha kau kanititeiti kihe fili, kemipeini, mo sivisivi’i ‘ae ngaue ‘enau kau Fakafofonga kuo fili kihe Fale Alea. Tenau hokoatu hono ngaue’i ‘ae ‘asenita kihe liliu fakapolitikale mo fokotu’utu’u ‘enau ngaahi taumu’a ngaue, mo ‘enau ngaahi faka’amu ma’ae kaha’u ‘oe fonua ki ha palani mo tofa ha mape folau ke vakai kiai ‘ae kakai, pea ngaue’i ‘ae ngaahi taumu’a koia. Koe tukupa ia kihe temokalati. 

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