Gov’t says yes to Tt2’s urgent needs, establishes Anti-Corruption Commission; PM clarifies sports teams evacuated from China and why non-gov’t MPs not part of Cabinet team at constituency meetings
Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa said the non-government Members of Parliament were not part of his government team which visited and met with constituencies because they were not civil servants or Cabinet Ministers.
He said these non-government MPs’ leader was the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to whom they were accountable.
He said these MPs were free to attend the constituency meetings just like any members of the public.
The Prime Minister was responding after a Tongatapu 2 constituent queried him, implying she believed the government was snubbing their MP, Hon. Semisi Sika.
Hon Tu’i’onetoa said he wanted to clarify this because there was a misunderstanding about it.
He said the state’s power was divided into three branches, the executive government, the Legislative Assembly and the Judiciary.
He said he has a constitutional right to meet with the people.
The Prime Minister also assured the Tongatapu 2 community the Anti-Corruption Commission would be established.
The meeting was told the king has signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption in February.
A constituent questioned the travel costs and daily allowances spent by Cabinet ministers on the meetings. The Prime Minister said they were not paid per diem.
- PM’s Tongatapu 2 Meeting: Drainage, footpaths, water and special care for those who relocated to Tongatapu were urgent needs
Tongan evacuees from China
The Prime Minister said the negotiations to evacuate the Tongan sports teams from China to the UK were only made between officials from governments concerned and no one else. He said he heard rumours saying that members of the public were involved but he told his staff to ignore it.
He said he was accused during the meeting of announcing that the government had no money to bring back the Tongan sports teams from China. The Prime Minister denied this and said may be the person who had accused him has got it wrongly from Facebook.
The Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet, Edgar Cocker, said the government had paid a doctor and a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official to fly to the UK and look after the sports teams which were evacuated from China.
Cocker was responding to questions from the meeting.
He said the Tongan government paid for the food, medication, accommodation and all other expenses for the sports trainees while they were being quarantined in London.
He said the Chinese government paid for their airfares, which was part of the contract agreement between the Chinese and the Tongan governments to bring and train them in China.
Cocker also revealed Tonga and New Zealand had signed an aid agreement for New Zealand to fund surveillance cameras in areas which would include Tongatapu 2.
Minister of Police responses
All Cabinet ministers who were at the meeting assured the Tongatapu 2 constituents that works must be done to address the urgent needs they raised during the meeting.
The Minister of Police Lord Nuku said these government-led meetings were different from the Parliament’s annual constituency meetings.
The noble said this was an opportunity for the MPs to urge their constituents to give their urgent needs directly to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet ministers.
He said in Parliament the opposition MPs and Cabinet Ministers regularly have opposing views on what should be done for the public.
The Minster said Tongatapu 2 has recorded the highest illicit drugs use of all the constituencies.
Lord Nuku said there were concerns about nightclubs and loud music being played but Police can only be able to respond and attend incidents if they had received complaints from the public.
The Minister of Police urged the constituents to complain to police whenever they had problems.
Minister of Infrastructure responses
The Minister of Infrastructure ‘Akosita Lavulavu said she was elated to meet the Tongatapu 2 constituents.
She said her Ministry had begun working in Fanga ‘O Pilolevu by repairing the Neivi Road.
Hon Lavulavu said the Ministry would also repaint the pedestrian crossing markings as requested.
In response to a request from a Ngele’ia mother to make their roads safer Hon Lavulavu said her Ministry will install speed humps to help reduce vehicle speeds.
She said the Ministry was currently installing speed humps on Touliki and Sopu roads.
The Minister said she’ll meet with anyone with issues they’d like to discuss and her office door was open to the public.
Minister of Internal Affairs and Finance responses
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Vatau Hui, responded to requests to post more town officers to towns and villages. Hon. Hui said the government was working to amend the law to allow appointment of more town and district officers.
The Minister of Finance, Tevita Lavemaau said the Prime Minister’s top priorities included fighting illicit drugs, improving education standard, health and economic development.
He said the Prime Minister’s roading project was part of the economic development
There were requests from Tongatapu 2 for the government to equip and upgrade some of their churches’ halls which also acted as evacuation centres.
Hon. Lavemaau said locals could write and apply for assistance for evacuation centres through his office.
He said 73 street lights from Ha’atafu to Nuku’alofa were expected to be replaced, starting last week.
He said an elderly asked to put street lights in her road and the government would provide them.
Hon. Lavemaau also said the duty and tax free status the government had granted to imported building materials would end on March 12.
He said while the government was working to extend it to December 2020, people could write to him and asked to have their building materials made exempt from duty.