TONGA FISTFIGHT IN PARLIAMENT NO LONGER SECRET

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Speaker fails to expunge record of fight between three MPs

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 27, 2008) –The speaker of parliament in the Pacific Island Kingdom of Tonga, has tried to have details of a fistfight between three MPs, during a sitting, removed from the record.

Pacific correspondent Campbell Cooney reports the clash occurred earlier this week.

The editor of online news service Matangi Tonga, Pesi Fonua, says the punch-up involved three members of parliament, including the minister of tourism, after some terse verbal exchanges.

"During their exchanges, or verbal clashes, I think that's when the fight started," he said.

But the speaker of Tonga's parliament, the Honourable Tuilakepa, has tried to brush the incident under the parliamentary carpet.

Pesi Fonua says the speaker claims it is not proper for the media to publicise occurrences like this, and he tried, unsuccessfully, to have details removed from Hansard.

"Yeah he tried to, but he didn't manage to take everything out (laughs)," he said.

It is not known if those involved will be disciplined.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

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