Rift over Chinese aircraft splits Tu’ivakano and Deputy

Lord Tu’ivakano has removed Deputy Prime Minister Hon Samiu Vaipulu from the Infrastructure portfolio amid speculation they rowed over the controversial Chinese MA60 aircraft.

The Tongan government has yet to officially release any information and as of today its website still lists Hon Vaipulu’s ministerial portfolio as Minister of Infrastructure, the ministry that responsible for Tonga’s civil aviation. He has been moved to another ministry.

When Vaipulu was Minister of Infrastructure he was instrumental in bringing the controversial Xian MA60 turpo prop to the kingdom.

New Zealand issued a travel advisory and withheld a NZ$18 million grant for Tonga’s Tourism industry because it believed the Chinese aircraft was unsafe.

The Prime Minister’s Acting Secretary did not respond to our email.

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Kaniva News can reveal that following complaints from Ha’apai islanders about the way Hon Vaipulu handled relief efforts for the islands, the Prime Minister removed him as minister responsible for NEMO, the department that co-ordinates cyclone relief efforts.

We have been reliably informed that tension between the Prime Minister and his deputy flared again after Tonga received a second aircraft from China early last month.

The Harbin Y-12 aircraft, which is operated by Real Tonga Airlines, was commissioned in Vava’u by His Majesty King Tupou VI.

The origins of the aircraft drama can be traced back to March this year when the Prime Minister visited New Zealand and met with New Zealand’s Pacific Island Affairs Minister, Hon. Murray McCully.

Lord Tu’ivakano wanted New Zealand to release the tourism funding and remove its travel advisory.

He had to agree to ground the MA60 before New Zealand would back down.

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When the Prime Minister told his cabinet in Nuku’alofa to ground the aircraft,  Hon Vaipulu strongly rejected the move and insisted he would resign.

Hon. Vaipulu was one of the key figures who masterminded the formation of the current government and led to Lord Tu’ivakano to become the first Prime Minister of Tonga’s current system of government.

Chinese aviation reps in kingdom

Last week Hon. Vaipulu introduced a civil aviation bill in Parliament, saying it was intended to fix the 1990 Civil Aviation Act.

While introducing his bill, Vaipulu revealed that a team of 14 personnel from China’s Civil Aviation Administration was in Tonga to help with the kingdom’s aviation law.

He then moved for the Speaker to take a ballot on the bill.

Unusually, the Prime Minister stood up and told his Minister for Law to postpone the balloting as he needed time to look at it. The Prime Minister then reportedly left the House.

The Speaker agreed and the bill was not put to the vote.

The main points

  • Lord Tu’ivakano has removed Deputy Prime Minister Hon Vaipulu from the Transport portfolio amid speculation they rowed over the controversial  Chinese MA60 aircraft.
  • The Tongan  government has yet to officially release any information, but its website lists Hon Vaipulu’s ministerial portfolio as Minister of Infrastructure.
  • Last week Hon Vaipulu introduced a civil aviation bill in Parliament, saying it was intended to fix the 1990 Civil Aviation Act.
  • While introducing his bill, Vaipulu revealed that a team of 14 personnel from China’s Civil Aviation Administration was in Tonga to help with the kingdom’s aviation law.

More information

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1 COMMENT

  1. Kuo to’o ‘e Looti Tu’ivakano ‘a ‘ene Tokoni Palemia, ‘Onapolo Vaipulu mei hono fatongia ki he Potungaue 'Inifalakisaa lolotonga ‘eni e ngaahi fakamahalo ne na alea  he vakapuna mohu laua ‘a Siaina MA60.

    ‘Oku te’eki tuku mai ‘e he Pule’anga ha fakamatala faka’ofisiale ki heni ka ‘i he ‘aho ni ‘oku kei  lisi pe  ‘i he’ene uepisaiti ‘a e fatongia fakaminisita ‘o Vaipulu ‘o pehe ko ia ‘oku minisita ki he ‘Inifalakisaa. Ko e potungaue foki 'eni 'oku ne tokanga'i 'a e fefononga'ki vakapuna sivile, pea tanaki atu ki ai e Fefononga'aki, Va'a Vakai Matangi, Malini mo e Poate Taulanga pehe ki he 'Enisinia Sivile. Kuo tu'utu'uni ke ne hiki ki he potungaue 'e taha.

     ‘I he taimi ne kei minisita 'Inifalakisa ai ‘a Vaipulu ko ia na’a ne taaimu’a ‘i hono ‘ohake ki Tonga ‘a e vakapuna fakafekiki’i ko ia Xian MA60 ki he pule’anga.

    Na’e tuku atu ‘e Nu’u Sila ‘ene fakatokanga ki he kau folau vakapuna ‘i Tonga pea ne puke tu’u ‘e ne tokoni pa’anga ‘e $18 miliona ki he Takimamata ‘a Tonga koe’uhi ko ‘ene tui ‘oku ‘ikai malu ‘a e vakapuna Siaina ni.

    Na’e ‘ikai ha tali ‘a e Sekelitali le’ole’o ‘a e Palemia ki he’emau ‘imeili ‘o fakafehu’i ia kau ki he me’a kuo hoko ko ‘eni.

    ‘Oku fiefakaha ‘e he Kaniva heni ko e taimi ko e na’e launga ai ‘a e kakai ‘o Ha’apai ki he anga hono tokanga’i ‘e Vaipulu ‘a e tokoni afaa ki he motu, na’e to’o ‘e he palemia mei ai ‘a e lakanga minisita ki he NEMO, ko e potungaue ‘eni ‘oku ne tokanga’i ‘a e tokoni afaa ‘a Tonga.

    Kuo fakaha kia kimautolu ‘e ha fakamatala falala’anga na’e toe fakalalahi e vatamaki ‘i he va ‘o e palemia mo hono tokoni hili ia e ma’u ‘e Tonga ‘a ‘ene vakapuna hono ua me’a’ofa  mei Siaina he mahina kuo ‘osi.

    Ko e vakapuna fo’ou ko ‘eni he kalasi Harbin y-12 ‘a ia ‘oku fakalele ‘e he Real Tongan Airline na’e hopoki ia ‘E He’ene ‘Afio Tupou VI ‘i Vava’u he konga ki mu’a ‘o e mahina kuo ‘osi.

    Na’e kamata e to’i tulama ko ‘eni he vakapuna ‘i Ma’asi ta’u ni he taimi ne ‘i Nu’u Sila ni ai ‘a e palemia ke na fakataha mo e Minisita ‘a Nu’u Sila ni ki he Pasifiki, Murray McCully.

    Na’e fiema’u ‘e Tu’ivakano ke tukuange ‘e Nu’u Sila ‘a e pa’anga tokoni ki he takimamata pea to’o foki mo e fakatokanga folau vakapuna.

    Ka na’e pau ke loto ia ki hano ta’ofi ke toe puna ‘a e vakapuna MA60 kae toki holomui ‘a Nu’u Sila mei he’ene ngaahi fakataputapu.

    Ko e taimi ne tala ai ‘e he Palemia ki he’ene kapineti ‘i Nuku’alofa ‘e ta’ofi ke toe puna e vaka na’e fakafepaki’i fefaka ia ‘e Vaipulu mo ne kikihi ‘e fakafisi ia.

    Ko e taha foki ‘a Vaipulu ia he kau fika tu’ukimu’a ne nau ‘atamai’i e fa’unga pule’anga lolotonga ‘o a’u ki he tu’unga ne hoko ai ‘a Looti Tu’ivakano ko e fuofua palemia ia ‘o e  pule’anga   Tonga.

    I Tonga kau fakafofonga mei he Fefolau’aki vakapuna ‘a Siaina:

    ‘I he uike kuo ‘osi na’e malanga’i ai ‘e Vaipulu ‘a ‘ene lao fakaangaanga ‘i Fale Alea ‘o pehe ko e lao ‘eni ke monomono e lao fepuna’aki ‘a Tonga 1990.

    Lolotonga e fakamalanga ‘ene lao fakaangaanga ne fakaha ai ‘e Vaipulu ‘oku lolotonga ‘i Tonga ha toko 14 ko e timi ia mei he fefolau’aki vakapuna ‘a Siaina ke tokoni’i ‘a hono fa’u e ngaahi lao ‘a Tonga ki he fepuna’aki.

    Na’a ne fokotu’u atu leva ki he ‘eiki sea e Fale ke paloti’i ‘e ne lao fakaangaanga.

    Ka ne hoko heni ha me’a ikai angamaheni ko e  me’a hake ‘a e palemia ia ‘o fokotu’u atu ki he’ene Minisita Lao ke toloi atu e lao ia ‘a Vaipulu ‘oua ‘e paloti’i he ‘oku ne fiema’u ‘e ia ke toe sio ki ai. ‘Oku pehe na’e hu atu ai pe palemia ia ki tu’a ‘o me’a ia.

    Na’e tui ki ai ‘a e sea ‘o e Fale pea ne kaniseli ‘e ia hano paloti’i e lao ‘a Vaipulu.

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