Tonga PM Admits Unknown Number Of Diplomatic Passports Issued

Chief Secretary: there are cases in the passport situation that are still under police investigation

By Pesi Fonua

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, November 12, 2016) – The actual number of Tongan Diplomatic Passports in circulation is unknown, the Prime Minister, Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva, told a Press Conference on Friday 11 November.

The Prime Minister, as Tonga’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, is the person responsible for the issuing of Diplomatic Passports.

In recent weeks, Hon. Pohiva has expressed his concern over the illegal selling of Tongan Diplomatic, and Ordinary passports to criminals who were using them to transfer illegal drugs to New Zealand and Australia.

Therefore, his revelation of the fact that he does not know how many Tongan Diplomatic Passports have been issued should be a matter of great concern for everyone.

When the media started to ask more questions, the Chief Secretary and  Secretary to Cabinet, Dr Palenitina Langa'oi tried to calm down the situation by saying that they have some figures, “but not all …”

She said there are cases in the passport debacle that are still under police investigation.

Tearfully, she said she was not happy with a news story in circulation reporting that the Prime Minister has cancer. At the same time, she did not affirm or deny that the PM has cancer.

Instead, she said that Hon. Pohiva was leaving for New Zealand the following day, Saturday, for a health check-up.

The Prime Minister told the gathering that he would call another Press Conference with the Tongan Media when he returned.

History lesson

Yesterday’s Press Conference with the Prime Minister was a surprise. The last Press Conference he called was about six months ago. This time the PMwanted to talk about the “Faa’i Kavei Koula” (Four Golden Values). Normally, these are values that church leaders preach about in church, and usually include Respect, Humility, Loyalty and Kindness. At Friday's Press Conference there was no mention of  them.

Instead, for a good part of the Press Conference the Prime Minister conducted a history class, starting from when Tupou I passed away in 1894 to when Tupou II, from Holopeka became king in 1895. He said that during the reign of Tupou II the government went bankrupt and the Prime Minister Veikune and the Minister of Finance were deported to Fiji. Mateialona became Prime Minister until he resigned in 1912 then Tu’ivakano became Prime Minister from 1912 to 1918. Tupou II passed away in 1918, succeeded by Queen Sālote. In 1970 Tonga became a fully independent state from Great Britain, he said, then in 1986 ‘Akilisi Pohiva first became a member of parliament.

Hon. Pohiva, who is also Tonga’s Minister of Education expressed his disappointment that all these historical events are not taught in Tongan schools.

He stressed that all these significant historical events “justified” why Tonga must under go political change. He wants a complete transfer of Executive Power from the His Majesty in Privy Council to the Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly.

The quest for more executive power appears to be what the PM is after, but at the same time he told the press conference that Tonga is like a ship that is “not moving anywhere.”

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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