TONGA GOVERNMENT HIRES PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM

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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Pacnews, April 28) — The Kingdom of Tonga
is moving forward with a new media and information policy.

The official Tongan government Web site reports that the prime
minister, Prince ‘Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, has confirmed that they have approved
terms of reference for Fiji public relations company, Samba, to reorganize
government’s media communications system.

"We want to become more accessible to the media and improve
the flow of information to the people," he said. "Because the existing
information structure is not adequate, government often has difficulty in
communicating its position on issues and generally getting information to the
public and the media."

He added that government was concerned about the damaging
effects of "biased, distorted and false media reports" and that such
coverage "reflected on the integrity of the kingdom, the monarchy and
government."

"It is a matter of concern for all Tongans who are proud of
their country, who love their king and cherish their culture," the prime
minister said. "We all have an interest in protecting the image and
reputation of the kingdom. This is a national issue."

He said the Samba project "reconfirmed the kingdom’s
commitment to freedom of speech and the press, within the normal constraints of
the law. This has been provided for in Tonga’s constitution since His Majesty
King George Tupou granted it in 1875 but the Tongan government believed that no
freedom was absolute — freedom was associated with responsibility."

April 29, 2003

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