Acting Speaker makes u-turn, saying no gov’t bills to “remove” king’s power after government’s plan to take legal action against him

Faka’ohovale me’a Sea Le’ole’o' Looti Tu'ilakepa ‘i Fale Alea pehē ko e lao fakaangaanga lelei pe ia ne fakahū ange ‘e he pule’anga’ pea’ ne ‘ikai ha lao ia ai ke to’o e mafai ‘o e tu’i. Ko e konga ‘eni ‘a hono lekooti hangatonu ‘ene ngaahi me’a’: “Te’eki ke ‘asi ‘i Fale ni te u fakahoko atu kia moutolu Hou’eiki ‘oku te’eki ke tau ’asi ‘i Fale ni ha Lao he Lao ko eni ‘o pehē ha Mēmipa na’e liliu ‘a e mafai e Tu’í. Te’eki ke ‘asi ia. Ko e ‘asi ia mei he talanoa telefoni ko ē na’e kamata he consultation ko ē ‘a e Pule’angá ‘a ia ko e talk back ‘i he telefoni ‘o ‘alu aipē ia ‘o hangē ha fo’i mo’oni’i me’a ‘a e fakakaukau ko iá. Na’a’ ne toe hahanu foki ‘i Fale Alea he mahino kuo kamata e ngāue ki hono faka’ilo ia ‘i he tui ‘a e pule’anga’ oku ta’e fakakonisitūtone ‘a hono lakanga ko e Sea Le’ole’o ‘o e Fale Alea’. Ko ‘ene me’a ‘eni: “‘Ka ke fakamolemole pē ki he Feitu'ú na ko e hā koā e me’a ‘oku mou to e ‘ai ai ke tau to e ō ‘o fakatonutonu ‘oku ‘ikai ke ‘i ai ha pa’anga ‘e mole he fonua ni. Kapau na’e ‘i ai ha’aku tu’utu’uni ‘o mole ha pa’anga e fonua ni pea ‘oku totonu pasika pea ‘oku totonu ke ‘ave e motu’a ni. Ko e tu’utu’uni fakangaue pē ia.

The Acting Speaker, Lord Tu’ilakepa, has shifted his tone this week after he said no bill had been submitted to parliament by any MP to remove the king’s powers.

He said it was an opinion raised during the government’s consultation talkback show early this year to discuss the six new bills the government said were urgent.

He said the opinion was then discussed to the point where it was misstated as a fact.

In Tongan he said: “Te’eki ke ‘asi ‘i Fale ni te u fakahoko atu kia moutolu Hou’eiki ‘oku te’eki ke tau ’asi ‘i Fale ni ha Lao he Lao ko eni ‘o pehē ha Mēmipa na’e liliu ‘a e mafai e Tu’í. Te’eki ke ‘asi ia. Ko e ‘asi ia mei he talanoa telefoni ko ē na’e kamata he consultation ko ē ‘a e Pule’angá ‘a ia ko e talk back ‘i he telefoni ‘o ‘alu aipē ia ‘o hangē ha fo’i mo’oni’i me’a ‘a e fakakaukau ko iá.

He called on the Parliament’s Legislation Standing Committee to return and table the bills in the House.

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He said there was nothing bad about the bills the government submitted.

The Noble and Independent benches were vocal in opposing the bills. Lord Fusitu’a, who is currently receiving medical treatment at Middlemore hospital in Auckland, said if the bills became laws they would remove some of the king’s powers.

The government and the then acting Attorney General denied this.

But the nobles’ claims have convinced some constituents who voted against the bills during public consultations conducted by a Parliamentary committee throughout Tongatapu and the outer islands.

The change in the Acting Speaker’s language about the controversial bills was especially striking given his hard-line approach and the alleged use of his powers to slow the passage of the new  bills through the House.

It was not clear why the Acting Speaker changed tone on Monday, but he made the statement in the House after he said he had received the details of a lawsuit the government has taken against him.

As Kaniva news reported previously, the Minister of Police confirmed in Parliament that cabinet had passed a resolution to take legal action on the appointment of the Acting Speaker.

He said it was an “opinion” of the government that the Noble’s appointment was illegal.

This week Lord Tu’ilakepa asked why the government wanted to take him to court.

He said the legal actions against him could be justified if he made any decision which caused loss to the public funds.

He said the decision he made which caused dissatisfaction in the government was only administrative.  

In Tongan he said: “‘Ka ke fakamolemole pē ki he Feitu’ú na ko e hā koā e me’a ‘oku mou to e ‘ai ai ke tau to e ō ‘o fakatonutonu ‘oku ‘ikai ke ‘i ai ha pa’anga ‘e mole he fonua ni. Kapau na’e ‘i ai ha’aku tu’utu’uni ‘o mole ha pa’anga e fonua ni pea ‘oku totonu pasika pea ‘oku totonu ke ‘ave e motu’a ni. Ko e tu’utu’uni fakangaue pē ia.”

He told the House he had yet to see a lawyer.

The Minster of Police told the House the lawyer for the government was New Zealand barrister Dr Rodney Harrison and the lawyer for the Parliament was former Tongan Attorney General Neil Addsett.

The main points

  • The Acting Speaker, Lord Tu’ilakepa, has shifted his tone this week after he said no bill had been submitted to Parliament by any MP to remove the king’s powers.
  • He said it was an opinion raised during the government’s consultation talkback show early this year to discuss the six new bills the government said was urgent.

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