TONGAN LAWMAKERS TRADE BLOWS

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 30) - A fist-fight broke out in the Tongan Parliament last week between two Members 'Etuate Lavulavu and 'Akilisi Pohiva, resulting in their suspension from the House.

'Etuate Lavulavu was suspended for three days, and 'Akilisi Pohiva for one and a half days, starting at lunch-time July 28.

'Etuate, the Vava'u No. 2 People's Representative hit 'Akilisi, the Tongatapu No. 1 People's Representative on the back of his head, before the two members were restrained.

The July 28 scuffle took place while the House was locked in a debate over a Bill for a new civil law (apparently to replace the discarded application of British law regarding children).

The Ha'apai No. 1 People's Representative Fineasi Funaki raised the issue of adoption and 'Etuate and the Minister of Police, Hon. Clive Edwards repeatedly tried to convince him that his concern about adoption was unrelated to the bill that was before the House, but Fineasi argued that it was a point that was worth raising.

'Akilisi then requested for the Minister of Justice to clarify the matter for the member because his view appeared to be different from that of the Minister of Police.

The request offended the Minister of Police who responded by saying that anyone could clarify the matter, and warned the member of his mischievous plan to destabilise the House.

'Akilisi insisted that there was a different of opinion between the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Police. He said that the Minister of Justice said that their concern over the adoption of legitimate children is covered in Clause 6 of the Bill, but the Minister of Police said that Clause 6 explained the objective of the Bill, and there was no clash between him and the Minister of Justice.

'Akilisi responded by saying that this was why government had lost many court cases because of the Minister of Police trying to control the Minister of Justice.

The Minister of Police said that the member had been fined by the court for misleading the people.

'Akilisi warned the government table to be on alert that the country would get into trouble because of the Minister of Police, and that he was behind the drive for government to release $50,000 to a private school 'Unuaki 'o Tonga.

'Etuate, the founder of the 'Unuaki 'o Tonga called for a point of order and said that he was going to beat up 'Akilisi, and that was when the scuffle took place.

August 2, 2004

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

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