Fist-fight challenge in Tonga Parliament; MP Piveni Piukala suspended over ‘inappropriate behaviour’

MP Piveni Piukala was suspended from Parliament for a day after he was involved in a heated debate with the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Whole House Committee this morning.

Paula Piveni Piukala

Piukala had accused the government of falsifying the annual budget, and when the Prime Minister asked him to point out the specific pages that contained the alleged falsification, Piukala refused to do so and instead demanded more time to explain.

The Chairman Lord Tu’ilakepa allowed Piukala to speak, but he continued to be disruptive and refused to comply.

Piukala argued that the constitution stipulates that it was the duties of the MPs to check and scrutinise the budget.

“The king and the people are listening and waiting for us”, he said in Tongan.

Another MP, Johnny Taione, intervened and asked the Chairman to stop Piukala, but Piukala challenged Taione to a fight.

The Chairman then ordered the House security to remove Piukala from Parliament.

Lord Tu’ilakepa said if he submitted a formal report to the House on Piukala’s “inappropriate behaviour” he could be suspended for 14 days. Lord Tu’ilakepa said he decided to suspend him for just one day instead.

The incident highlights the tensions that exist in Tongan politics, and it raises questions about the role of Parliament in holding the government accountable.

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