THREE MODELS FOR TONGAN POLITICAL CHANGE

Editorial

Matangi Tonga by Pesi Fonua

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (February 18) - As we are getting closer to Tonga's 2005 Parliamentary Election on March 17 the idea of political change is still the popular campaign issue, and it is clearer now that we are looking at three different proposals, or models of government.

One proposal was put forward by the incumbent members of parliament; another by the former General Secretary of the Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement, Lopeti Senituli, and yet another by the former Minister of Police, Clive Edwards.

The incumbent members presented their proposal in a motion to the House last year, calling for a referendum, for the people to choose whether to elect all the members of parliament, or for the structure of parliament to remain as it is today.

The motion was rejected by the House, but ‘Akilisi Pohiva the Tongatapu no. 1 People's Representative has said that their motion remains to be the back bone of their proposal for political change in Tonga. He said that their objective is for all members of parliament to be elected by the people, but the detailed procedure on how they are going to do it had yet to be decided and they supported the government’s intention for a procedural approach.

New candidate, Lopeti Senituli, on the other hand, working on his fifth model of a government, has taken a few steps further by allocating seats for women, the rest of the population and the nobles. He also believed that the king should still elect the Cabinet Ministers and the Speaker of the House. He proposed to remove the executive and the legislative power of the King, and that there should be a Royal Purse of the king. Lopeti’s model of government still lacks a lot of details, but he said that those details will be provided if the king and the government would accept his plan.

Meanwhile, candidate Clive Edwards proposes for all the 30 members of parliament to be elected by the people, then the 30 will select a Prime Minister, and then the PM will appoint his ministers. The King will be given a Royal Purse but he will have no executive or legislative power.

These three proposals for political change in Tonga have been presented as campaigning tools by candidates, but a decision by the voters on whom they should vote for based on the quality of the proposal could be a revealing exercise.

If that is going to be the deciding factor in this election, then may be there should have been an essay competition for candidates, writing on a new model of government for Tonga, and the top nine essay writers should enter parliament and the winner to become Prime Minister?

Matangi Tonga: www.matangitonga.to/nav.html

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