COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARIANS MEET IN TONGA

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Members focus on good governance, democratic representation

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, April 18, 2012) – Tonga is eager to learn from your experiences and share your knowledge, HM King Tupou VI told members of parliament from Commonwealth countries when he opened the 2012 mid-year Executive Meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) at the Fa'onelua Convention Centre, Nuku'alofa this morning.

It was King Tupou VI first public engagement since ascending the Tongan throne on March 18. He told the gathering that the two previous Tongan monarchs, his father King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, and his older brother, King George Tupou V were instrumental in promoting the political reform that is currently in progress in Tonga today.

He said that nature itself has taught us that diversity is a good thing, as there are many lessons we can learn from each other regardless of our relatively small population or economic power and that the sharing of ideas and experiences is vital for the development of a nation.

"It is only through meetings and exchanges like this that these ideas take root, through dialogue giving them a chance to bear fruit. We here in Tonga are eager to learn from your experiences and to share your knowledge and I know that this will promote our shared values in the Commonwealth."

King Tupou VI said this is the first time the Executive Committee have met in Tonga and Tongans are very proud to be their host.

Good Governance

Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst, the Chairperson of the CPA Executive, said their talk this week will carry forward work to advance and strengthen parliamentary diplomacy because it is their aim to promote representative democracy through meetings and seminars designed to help members to do their work better.

He said in today's world good governance is the key to success and there are always new members of parliament who can benefit from the change and instructions that comes form joined meeting such as the CPA.

"Just as Tongans learn from their involvement in CPA so may they teach as no parliament has a monopoly over wisdom of what is the best practice."

He commended that Tonga has consistently been a member of the CPA and the CPA has benefited from contributions made by Tongan parliamentarians such as Lord Fusitu'a and Lord Nuku who have served as members of the Executive Committee.

Closed

The two day meeting is attended by Executive Members, the President, Hon. Chamal Rajapaksa MP, from Sri Lanka; Chairperson Rt. Hon Sir Alan Haselhurst MP of the United Kingdom; Vice Chairperson Dr. Nafisa Shah Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and Hon. Alix Boyd Knights; the Speaker of the House of Assembly of Dominica.

Also present were 30 regional representatives from the association's nine main branches of Africa, Asia, Australia, British Islands and Mediterranean, Canada, Caribbean, Americans and Atlantic countries, India, Pacific and South East Asia.

The Speaker of the Tonga Legislative Assembly Lord Lasike and members were also present at the opening of the CPA Executive Meeting.

The meeting will end on Thursday, 19 April and participants will depart Tonga on 21 April.

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