Tongan MPs Complain About Foreign Media Ambushing Them With Photographs, Questions

Fairfax Media journalists called out for lack of respect

By Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 13, 2016) – Surprise questions from visiting journalists, believed to be from the Fairfax Group in New Zealand, have upset Tonga’s Members of Parliament who complained in the House this morning and called for controls on how the media approach MPs.

“There should be a direction on how the media photograph and interview members of Parliament as they enter parliament,” Lord Nuku told the Speaker of the Tongan parliament, Lord Tu’ivakano this morning.

Lord Nuku said that he felt he was molested when he was confronted by somebody taking photographs and asking questions as he entered the parliamentary compound this morning and he felt the people were “disrespectful”.

“They were questioning the Minister of Police. They should have made an arrangement to interview the Minister in his office,” said Lord Nuku.

Lord Tu’ilakepa

Following on Lord Nuku’s complaint, Lord Tu’ilakepa spoke about another ‘harrassment” by what they believed to be the same “foreign media people”.

Lord Tu’ilakepa said that he was out early this morning to check on his squash plantation, when after 7:00 am he received a call from his wife and he rushed back home.

Lord Tu’ilakepa said that the media people were very rude and aggressive in their knocking, and once the door was opened they “went wild with their crazy questions”. He suggested that the police should do something about these media people.

The Speaker said that he was questioned yesterday by the same people outside church. He suggested for the Minister of Police to hurry up and present to the House their report on a police investigation into misusing of the Tongan passports, and had cost government $300,000.

It appeared that what the foreign media people are after is what government and the Tongan parliament has done about the illegal selling of Tongan passports to foreigners.

Fairfax

It is understood from a Parliament staff that the media group is from Fairfax Media in New Zealand.

Security at Parliament Office said this afternoon that for three days the men had turned up outside the main gate and taken their shots of the members, which some found intrusive. 

“They were told they were not allowed to because they were taking pictures of the members who were inside the compound. This is prohibited, had not been authorized and they had not asked for permission. They were also not at all dressed in proper suit attire required at parliament. One wore shorts like they were going out for a stroll,” said the security officer.

“They came in a rental car and after we informed them they were not allowed to they left this morning. But this is the third day they had turned up like this,” he said.

In New Zealand, Fairfax runs The Dominion Post, The Press, The Sunday Star-Times, TV Guide, NZ House and Garden, New Zealand Fishing News and Cuisine.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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