Court overturns decision to remove TBC directors

Tonga’s Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a decision by the Tongan government to remove two directors of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission.

The Minister of Public Enterprises, the Hon. Poasi Tei had removed Dowager Lady Fielakepa and Dowager Lady Fusitu’a from the TBC board in October 2015.

Hon Tei accused the women were responsible for “the poor financial performance of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission” and financial losts of the financial years 2011/12-2013/14.

The duo refused to accept the decision and sought judicial review to quash it.

The legal action arose after the Ministry of Public Enterprises announced its intention to restructure the boards of the public enterprises as part of the government reform processes and as a result “the existing directors were to be removed”, the court judgement said.

Ladies Fusitu’a and Fielakepa argued “that there had been no consultation with the TBC directors before the decision was made” and that the MInistry “had acted unlawfully in advertising the positions on the board of T BC as vacant when the existing directors were currently serving”.

Lord Chief Justice Owen Paulsen said Fusitu’a and Fielakepa were denied their rights to natural justice when they were not given enough “time to respond to the allegations made against them”.

Paulsen said: “I am satisfied, and indeed it is plainly obvious in my view, that the only reason the plaintiffs were removed from office was because they would not resign to allow for the introduction of the public enterprises reforms”.

Although the Government considered the removal of the two Ladies was necessary for the good of the country the Minister had no power to remove them, Paulsen said.

“The Minister’s decision of 16 October 2015 removing the plaintiffs as directors of the T BC is quashed”, Paulsen said adding that they “are entitled to their costs which are to be fixed by the Registrar if not agreed”.

Ladies Fusitu’a and Fielakepa were represented by legal counsel William Clive Edwards Snr while the government was represented by the Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news