TONGA REFORM COMMITTEE PRESENTS REPORT TO KING

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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, ) – Tonga's National Committee for Political Reform (NCPR) presented its 100 page report for King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV at Mercy Hospital in Auckland, last night.

The new NCPR chairman Dr Sitiveni Halapua personally presented the report to HRH Princess Pilolevu at the hospital where the King has been a patient since he returned to New Zealand after visiting Tonga briefly for his 88th birthday on July 4.

[PIR editor’s note: Sitiveni Halapua, who is director of the Pacific Islands Development Program at the East-West Center in Honolulu, has been on leave since January of this year when he was invited to participate in political reform efforts in Tonga.]

Sitiveni said today that constitutionally the report that was given to the Prince Regent Tupouto'a in Nuku'alofa yesterday was the official document, but his visit to the King in Auckland, which was agreed upon by the Prince Regent, was to honour a promise made by the late Prince Tu'ipelehake to the people that he was going to present a copy to the King.

Originally chaired by the late Prince Tu'ipelehake, the committee was set up with a mandate to report to the king and government following consultations with the people of Tonga, both nationally and overseas, relating to political and social reforms. It was to recommend changes to legislation with a view to building national unity and promoting the social and economic advancement of the people of Tonga.

Meanwhile, in Nuku’alofa, the NCPR report was presented to the Prince Regent HRH Prince Tupouto'a at the office of the Lord Chamberlain, yesterday afternoon by NCPR committee members, who included vice chairman Samiu Vaipulu, Vili Kaufusi Helu, ‘Aisea Taumoepeau, Dr ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki, Dr Langi Kavaliku and the nobles Tangipa and Malupo

Siaosi Vete of NCPR said that a copy of the report would be presented to the Tongan Parliament before the end of September.

However, Sitiveni said today that while the original motion stated that parliament would receive a copy of the report 30 days after the King, parliament can make a new decision to receive the report before the 30 days, if they do not want to wait that long.

The formation of the National Committee for Political Reform was approved by the Tongan parliament on October 24, 2005, and it began its Talanoa meetings with the Tongan people on January 30, 2006.

By the end of May it had completed its meetings throughout the Tonga islands and continued to New Zealand and Australia in June where it held meetings with Tongans living there.

In July the NCPR headed on the final leg of their Talanoa meetings to the United States where the untimely death of former NCPR chairman Prince Tu’ipelehake on July 5 in a road accident in San Francisco, brought international recognition of the peace-making work of the NCPR.

September 4, 2006

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

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