INDEPENDENT NEWS

Tongan constitutional proposals a police state

Published: Wed 4 Jun 2003 03:03 PM
Tongan constitutional proposals presage a police state
“The proposed Act of Constitution of Tonga (Amendment) Act will impose restrictions on free speech and place the King’s ordinances beyond reach of the courts. Tonga will be more of a police state than ever,” said former Development Minister and Progressive MP Matt Robson.
“I wrote on May 15 to Don McKinnon as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth asking him to investigate Tonga’s breach of Commonwealth membership in relation to the banning of the Tonga Times (Taimi’o Tonga) newspaper. I am writing again today to ask him to take action on the aim of the Tongan government to muzzle all criticism and place the King above the courts. In my opinion suspension from the Commonwealth should be considered.
“These proposed constitutional changes are a reaction to the Court order to lift the ban on the Tonga Times. They will place the power elite led by the King above the constitution, muzzle all critics and allow the elite to continue plundering Tonga.
“The New Zealand government is well aware of the depth of corruption, mismanage-ment and oppression that exists in Tonga, including Police and prison officials committing torture. State resources are in the hands of the King, his family and their cronies. They have a licence to print money at the expense of the people. As Minister, I had many reports on this situation.
“New Zealand should now take strong steps to show its total opposition to these proposals to further suppress political freedom and entrench the corrupt power elite. This should include joint action with Commonwealth partners.
“We need to review our economic, military and aid relationship and ensure that in no way do we support the continuance of the self-interested and greedy power structure that sits on top of Tonga,” said Matt Robson.

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