Heated e-mail exchange reveals Deputy PM ordered NEMO to stop distributing tinned fish and meat

Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Samiu Vaipulu, ordered the National Emergency Management Organisation to stop distributing fresh tinned fish and meat to cyclone victims in Ha’apai.

The order was revealed in e-mails between the Deputy Prime Minister, Member of Parliament for Ha’apai 12, Mo’ale Finau and Acting Cabinet Secretary ‘Aholotu Palu.

The e-mails show Hon Vaipulu ordered NEMO to delay the distribution of supplies because he was irritated by complaints from Ha’apai people about the rancid tinned fish they were given in February.

MP Finau accused Hon Vaipulu of being unprofessional and lacking leadership skills.

The heated exchange of e-mails emerged after the government distributed packets of rice to cyclone victims which had a new ‘best before’ date stuck over the original, expired, date.

Hon Vaipulu, who is also the Minister responsible for NEMO, threatened to sue Finau after the MP told him it was a crime to put a sticker on packaging to cover the original date of the product while its best before date was actually past. 

The Governor of Ha’apai, Lord Havea Tu’iha’angana, said people were right to complain and that the government should have told them about the new ‘best before’ dates before the rice was distributed.

According to the packaging, the rice was exported from Vietnam to the Helen Investment Trading Co. Ltd.  A sticker on the packets says ‘Best Before 02-19-2015.’

Complainants were suspicious about why a sticker was on the packet and when they scratched it they could see another date they believed was the real ‘best before’ date, which said the rice should be consumed by April 15, 2014.

In a separate e-mail to Acting Cabinet Secretary ‘Aholotu Palu, Hon Vaipulu confirmed that his source of information was the Chinese owner of the supplier in Nuku’alofa who supplied the out of date rice and not Vietnamese authorities, as he had previously claimed.

Hon Vaipulu told Palu that he was told by the supplier that he had been informed by the Vietnamese exporter that the packages were pre-printed before the rice was put in.

The Deputy Prime Minister earlier told Radio Tonga that he had received a letter from the packing company and one from Tonga’s Health Ministry saying the rice was all right.

In an e-mail, Hon Vaipulu told Palu NEMO stopped delivering tinned fish and meat to Ha’apai because they complained.

MP Finau accused Hon Vaipulu of “nonsense” and said there was no good reason for him to stop the distribution of the fresh tinned fish and meat.

He said the Deputy Prime Minister did it because he was steamed up after the Ha’apai people complained.

MP Finau e-mailed the Prime Minister and asked him to order Hon Vaipulu to allow NEMO to distribute the fresh tinned fish and meat to Ha’apai cyclone victims.

The Governor of Ha’apai told Kaniva News NEMO should have publicly clarified the dates on the packing before they distributed it.

“People were right,”  Lord Tu’iha’angana said.

“The government always advises people on their radio programme to watch out for the dates on food packing they receive and make sure they are not expired.

“But now they are giving people rice with expiry dates that are quite confusing.”

The issue has become a social media sensation, with people calling for the Deputy Prime Minister to resign because of his public statements on the rice.  

The main points

  • Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Samiu Vaipulu, ordered the National Emergency Management Organisation to stop distributing fresh meat and tinned fish to cyclone victims in Ha’apai after they complained about being sent rancid food in February.
  • The order was revealed in e-mails between the Deputy Prime Minister, Member for Ha’apai 12, Mo’ale Finau and Acting Cabinet Secretary ‘Aholotu Palu.
  • The exchange of e-mails emerged after the government distributed packets of rice to cyclone victims last month which had a new ‘best before’ date stuck over the original, expired, date.
  • The Governor of Ha’apai, Lord Havea Tu’iha’angana, said people were right to complain and that the government should have told them about the new ‘best before’ dates before the rice was distributed.

News in Tongan

Kuo tu’utu’uni ‘e Samiu Vaipulu ke ‘oua toe tufa ‘a e kapaika mo e kapapulu kia kinautolu ne faingata’a’ia ‘i he saikolone ‘i Ha’apai.

Ko e tu’utu’uni ko ‘eni kuo fakae’a ia ‘i ha fe’imeili’aki ‘a e Tokoni Palemia ni, Memipa Fale Alea ma’a Ha’apai 12, Moale Finau pea pehe foki ki he Sekelitali le’ole’o ki he kapineti ‘Aholotu Palu.

‘Oku mahino mei he fe’imeili’aki ‘a e tolu ko ‘eni kuo tu’utu’uni ‘a Miu ke fakatatali hano toe tufa ‘o e ngaahi kapaika mo kapapulu ko ‘eni pea 'i he lau 'a Mo'ale na'a ne pehe ko e  mofisi 'eni 'a e fakafofonga Vava'u he launga a e kainga Ha’apai he kapaika kovi ne tufa ange 'e he pule'anga kia kinautolu ‘i he mahina Fepueli.

Kuo tukuaki’i ‘e Mo’ale a Vaipulu ‘oku ta’e fakapolofesinale mo mamaha ‘ene poto’i taukei fakataki.

Ko e mapuna hake ‘eni ‘a e fe‘imeili fe’ite’ita ni ko ‘eni hili ia hano tufa atu ‘e he pule’anga ki he kainga Ha’apai ‘a e ngaahi kofukofu laise kuo  fakapuliki hifo e ‘aho ia na’e tonu ke ‘osi ai hono faka’oanga’i ‘aki ha sitika oku tohi ai ha toe  ‘aho fo’ou ia ‘e taha.

Ko Vaipulu foki ‘a e minisita ‘oku fakamalumalu ai ‘a e NEMO pe ko e kautaha ia ‘a e pule’anga ‘oku ne tokanga’i ‘a e ngaahi fakatamaki fakanatula.

Ne iku ‘ena feto’aki ‘i he fe’imeili’aki ko eni ke  fakamanamana ai ‘e Vaipulu te ne faka’ilo ‘a Mo’ale hili ia hono tala ange ‘e he fakafofonga ko ‘enau me’a na’e fai ko e hia ia hono toe fakapipiki hifo ‘a e sitika ‘i he peketi ke ‘ufi’ufi ‘a e aho ke ‘osi ki ai ‘a e kei kanolelei ‘o e laise ko ‘eni ke fai ha ma’u meatokoni mei ai.

Ka ‘i ha tali a Mo’ale na’a ne fakaha atu kia Vaipulu ke fai mo ‘ai leva ‘a e faka’ilo ia ko ia he vave taha pea tuku ‘aupito ‘ene fakamanamana ‘oku fai mai mo e fakapiko.

Na’e me’a a e kovana Ha’apai Looti Tu’iha’angana ‘o pehe ‘oku tonu pe launga ‘a e kainga pea na’e tonu ke hanga ‘e he pule’anga ‘o fakamatala’i fakalelei kia kinautolu ‘a e toe ‘aho fo’ou ko ‘eni ‘oku fakapipiki hifo ‘i he laise na’e tufa.

Fakatatau ki he kofukofu ‘o e laise ko ‘eni nae ha ngali kehe hake ha sitkita ia oku tohi ai ‘a e ‘aho ke faka’aonga’i ki ai a ia ko e ‘aho 19 Fepueli 2015. Koe’uhi ko ‘ene ha ngali kehe na’e vau’i hifo ia ‘e he ni’ihi ‘oku toe ‘asi hake ‘a e ‘aho ia ‘e taha ‘oku ha ai ko e laise ko ‘eni na’e tonu ia ke ‘osi hono ‘aonga ‘i he ‘aho 14 ‘Epeleli 2014.

 ‘I ha fe’imeili’aki kehe ia ‘a e Tokoni Sekelitali Le’ole’o ki he kapineti mo Vaipulu na’e fakamahino ai ‘i he fakamatala ‘a Vaipulu ko ‘ene ma’u’anga fakamatala ki he palopalema ko eni kuo hoko ko e Siaina pe ko ia ‘i Tonga ‘a’ana ‘a e laise ne fakatau kae ikai ko e kau ma’u mafai ki he laise ni ‘i Vietinemi ‘o hange ko ia ne ne ‘uluaki fakamatala ki mu’a.

Na’e pehe ‘e Vaipulu kia Palu na’e fakaha ange ‘e he taha ko ‘eni na’e fakatau mei ai ‘a e laise ko e ‘u kofukofu o e laise na’e ‘uluaki pulusi ‘a e ‘aho ia pea toki omi ‘o fa’o ki ai ‘a e laise.

‘Oku ‘ikai ‘ilo ia pe ‘oku ‘uhinga ki he ha ‘a e fo’i fakamatala ko ia he ‘oku ‘uhinga ‘a e ‘aho ‘oku tohi ‘i tu’a ke ngata ki ai hano ‘aonga ‘o e koloa ko ia ki he me’a oku fa’o ‘i loto ka ‘oku ‘ikai ko e kofukofu.

Na’a ne tala ‘e ia ki he ongoongo fakalotofonua ‘a e letioo na’e ma’u ‘a e tohi mei he kautaha ngaohi kofukofu laise pea pehe ki ha tohi mei he potungaue mo’ui ‘oku sai pe laise ia.

‘I he ‘imeili foki ‘a Vaipulu kia Palu na’a ne fakaha mahino ai kuo ne ‘osi ta’ofi ke toe tufa ha kapaika ia mo ha kapapulu ki Ha’apai he ne nau launga.

Ko e ngaahi kapaika ‘eni mo e kapapulu lelei ki he kai na’e fakamahino  ‘e Mo’ale kuo ta’ofi ia ‘e Vaipulu ka ne fekau ke tufa pe ‘a e mahoa’a, suka mo e laise koe’uhi ko ‘ene ‘ita fakamolokau he launga ne ‘omi mei Ha’apai ki mu’a.

Na’e toe ‘imeili ai ‘a Mo’ale ‘o kole ki he Palemia ke ne tu’utu’uni kia Vaipulu ke tufa e kapaika mo e kapapulu ki he kainga.

Na’e pehe foki ‘e he Kovana Ha’apai ia ki he Ongoongo ‘a e Kaniva na’e tonu pe ke fakamatala fakalelei ‘e he NEMO ‘a e ngaahi ‘aho ‘oku ha ‘i he kofukofu pea toki fai hono tufa.

Pehe e Tu’iha’angana ‘oku tonu pe launga ‘a e kakai pea ko e pule’anga pe ‘oku ne mate tuuaki mai ‘i he’enau polokalama letioo ‘o fale’i ki he kainga ke nau tokanga ki he ngaahi ‘aho ‘oku ‘asi he kofukofu telia na’a kuo ‘osi hono taimi faka’aonga’i, pea ko ‘eni ko e pule’anga pe ‘eni ‘oku tamu’omu’a mai hono ‘omi e laise ‘oku faka’alonga ua e ngaahi ‘aho ia ‘oku ‘asi ai.

Kuo hoko ‘a e kaveinga ko ‘eni ke pupuke hake ai ‘a kinautolu ‘oku nau faka’aonga’i ‘a e ngaahi mitia fakasosiale hange ko e Feisipuka mo e Tuita ‘o ui ai ha ni’ihi kia Vaipulu ke fakafisi leva he vave taha mo ‘ene fai ‘a e ngaahi fakamatala ‘oku toe langa’i mamahi ia ki he kakai.

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