Independents have the right to a place in the race for Tongan premiership

    Editor’s comment

    Political discussion in Tonga is dominated by the idea that either one of the nobility or the Democratic Party could become Tonga’s next Prime Minister if they can get the support of the independents, but I would like to ask this question: Why don’t the independents take a firm stand and tell the Party and the nobility they also have the right to the premiership?

    Let’s look at some hard figures.

    The independents have nine candidates, there are nine for the nobility, but only eight for the Democratic Party. Dr ʻAisake Eke declared he accepted the Party nominating him to become its MP for Tongatapu 5 but he was still independent.

    The independents can form themselves into an association or a voting bloc, elect their candidate for Prime Minister and attract the support of the nobility and the Democratic Party by offering them ministerial posts.

    During the election campaign many voters said they wanted all 26 parliamentarians to work together, build the country and put aside their political differences.

    The independents can ask ‘Akilisi Pohiva to support them by allowing some of his Party’s elected MPs to vote with them so they have the numbers. They can do the same deal with the nobility.

    It is about time the Democratic Party and the Independents teamed up and made sure the power stays with them and not the nobility.

    In the past four years the noble-dominated Parliament has been battered by seemingly never ending questions over Tongasat, the MA60 aircraft debacle and the disbursement of Chinese loan funds.

    There are a number of strong reasons to support the idea that the independents should become the focus of who should become the Prime Minister.

    The independents have the qualifications and experience, many as top ranking civil servants.

    There are two potential Prime Ministerial candidates from the independents:  Siaosi Sovaleni and Dr ‘Aisake Valu Eke.

    Siaosi Sovaleni

    Sovaleni was dux of Tonga High School and is the son of the late Dr Langikavaliku who was Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister for more than 20 years. Langikavaliku, Tonga’s first PhD holder, was the first person in Tonga to formally submit to His Late Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV a constitutional reform proposal for Tonga, which he presented in 1975.

    Dr Langikavaliku’s proposal was the basis for ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s political vision and his fight for Tonga to become a democratic country.

    If Sovaleni, currently CEO at the Ministry of Enterprise, became the kingdom’s next Prime Minister, he would  fulfil his father’s 39 year old dream of a truly democratic Tonga.

    Sovaleni could also pick Fe’ao Vakata and pull him out of the nobility team. They were at school and university together and are still close friends. Vakata is currently the Minister for the Ministry of Public Enterprise.

    Dr ‘Aisake Eke

    Dr ‘Aisake Eke was the candidate who gained the most votes, with 1682 ballots. This figure suggests he has the right to become Tonga’s next Prime Minister. Dr Eke’s performance during the life of the last Parliament proved he has the leadership qualities needed to build a nation that will benefit all Tongans.

    He proposed a bill for the Prime Ministerial post to be elected by the people and not the 26 elected members of parliament even though it was outvoted when it was put to ballot in the House.

    If the bill was passed it would make Tonga a fully democratic government because the leadership of the country would be based on the will of the majority.

    Dr Eke could work with either the nobility or the Party and the independents. He was a strong supporter of the Democratic Party, especially when agendas in the House were put to the ballot.  Dr Eke always voted for the Party even when he was appointed by Lord Tu’ivakano as Tonga’s Minister for Finance.

    ‘Akilisi Pohiva

    ‘Akilisi Pohiva should be given a chance to become Tonga’s next Prime Minister. For the past 30 years he has pursued the vision of Tonga becoming a democracy. The people have repeatedly returned him to Parliament.

    His presence in Parliament is clearly the will of the people and the will of the people is the basis of  a democratic government.

    The chance for him to become Tonga’s Prime Minister relies heavily on a good deal he could make with the independents.


    It seems to me that 90 percent of the independents are strongly liberal and, like Dr Eke, they could support the Democratic Party’s political agenda.

    ‘Etuate Lavulavu, MP for Vava’u 16, indicated to the Party before the election campaign began that he wanted to join the Party and represent them from Vava’u 16.

    However, before the Party met to discuss its list for the outer islands, ‘Akilisi’s son-in-law, Mateni Tapueluelu, published what he claimed was the official Party list in Kele’a newspaper.

    It prompted Deputy Leader ‘Isileli Pulu to appear in the media and deny that it was the Party’s official list. At the time he mentioned  ‘Etutate Lavulavu as one of their potential candidates for Vava’u. However the Kele’a list stood and Pohiva later endorsed it as the Party’s list for the outer island.

    After the election only one Party member from Ha’apai 13 was elected and the Democrats lost their seat in Ha’apai 12 to the independents. The Party’s candidate list for Vava’u and Niua were not elected.

    There was also a possibility that Saia Piukala could work together with Pohiva and the Party. His brother Piveni Piukala was the Party’s candidate list member from Vava’u 14 in 2010, even though he was not elected.

    Sione Vuna Fa’otusia was involved with the Human Rights and Democracy Movement (HDM). HDM was a body initiated by Pohiva and the Democratic Party was a branch of the HDM.

    Samiu Kiuta Vaipulu, the former Deputy Prime Minister, is a good person himself, but based on his performance in the past four parliamentary years I do not think he has the leadership qualities and sense of political direction to make him a Prime Minister or even a Deputy Prime Minister.

    His political judgement will remain in question after the debacle over the introduction of the Chinese-made Xian MA60 aircraft, which was withdrawn after political and financial pressure from New Zealand.


    It is time for the nobility to remain as purely honorary representative and leave the leadership of the nation to the people’s MPs.

    They were voted in by only 33 members of the nobility  and not the majority of the people.

    Lord Tu’ivakano, the former Prime Minister was re-elected as one of the nobles’ representatives to Parliament last week, is a good person himself.

    However, too many questions remain unanswered about the way in which US$49 million /TOP97,804,391.22 million grant money from China found its way instead to Princess Pilolevu and her satellite company under his watch.

    Dr Langikavaliku and the roots of the Democrats

    Pohiva first knew about Dr Langikavaliku’s proposal for bringing democracy to the kingdom when he was a student at the University of the South Pacific in 1976.

    The proposal proposed that the Privy Council to set up a commission to review Tonga’s constitution.

    Pohiva said they then determined to pursue it and to make sure Tonga’s political system changed accordingly.

    Kenneth Bain quoted Dr Langikavaliku in his book The New Friendly Islander: A Voice from Within:

    “…in 1975 I put up a specific proposal to his majesty for constitutional change, designed to give people a greater voice in the course of their affairs. It was debated in cabinet at 12 separate meetings, deferred time after time and eventually dropped… It aimed to change to a fully elected system over a period of time not less than nine and not more than fifteen year …Now (1991) sixteen years later time may be running out. It is vital in my opinion that the government takes that initiative and announces a Constitutional Review Commission. It should just accept the principle of examining these matters and start the process publicly. ..But sometimes I don’t know whether we can afford to wait too long.”

    The elected independents are:

    1.Siaosi Sovaleni

    2.Dr ‘Aisake Eke

    3.Poasi Tei

    4. Sione Vuna Fa’otusia

    5.Viliami Hingano Manuopangai

    6.Dr Saia Piukala

    7.Samiu Vaipulu

    8.‘Etuate Lavulavu

    9.Fe’ao Vakata


    The  main points

    • Independent MPs should form a voting bloc and determine who becomes Tonga’s next Prime Minister.
    • The independents gained more votes than the Democrats and have an equal number of seats to the nobles.
    • The independents should seek alliances with the Democrats or the ranks of the nobility to elect the next Prime Minister.
    • Front runners for the PM’s positions are independents Siaosi Sovaleni and Dr ‘Aisake Valu Eke and Democrat leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

    For more information

    ‘Pohiva: I won because people helped make it happen’

    Tonga Electoral Commission

    Election results


    1. Ko e kaveinga fakapolitikale ‘oku lahi taha hono tālangaʻi ʻi Tongá ʻoku toka ia he pehē ko e lakanga palēmiá ʻe fili pe ia mei ha taha he kau nōpelé pe ko e Paati Temokalatí ʻoka pau te nau maʻu e poupou ʻa kinautolu lele tauʻatāiná.
      Ka ko ʻeku fehuí: Ko e hā ʻoku ʻikai ke tuʻu maʻu ai ʻa e kau lele tauʻatāiná ʻo nau fakamahino ki he Pātí mo e kau nōpelé ʻoku ʻi ai mo ʻenau totonu ʻa kinautolu ki he lakanga palēmiá.
      Tau vakai ange ki he fika mei he ola e filí.
      Ko e kau kanititeiti ʻe toko hiva naʻe lele tauʻatāina, ʻe lau pe ki he kau tuʻu tauʻatāiná ʻa Eke neongo kuó ne ʻosi fakahā ʻene tali fiemālie hono fakakau ia ʻe he Pātí ʻi heʻenau timí.
      ʻE lava ʻe he kau Mēmipa Fale Alea Tuʻu Tauʻatāiná ʻo fokotuʻu haʻanau ʻasosieisini pe ko ha kulupu ʻoku taumuʻa ke ne tuʻuaki ʻenau kaveinga fakapolitikalé ki he kakai filí, nau fili ʻe kinautolu haʻanau kanititeiti ki he fili Palēmiá pea tohoakiʻi mai e poupou ʻa e kau nōpelé mo e Paati Temokalatí ʻaki hano ʻoange hanau lakanga minisitā.
      Lolotonga e kemipeini ki he fili Fale Aleá naʻe mahino pe loto ʻo e kakaí ke ngāue fakataha ʻa e kau fakafofonga Fale Alea ʻe toko 26 kae lava ke langa e fonua pea tuku ʻenau ngaahi kehekehe fakapolitikalé ki tafaʻaki.
      ʻE lava ke kole ʻe he kau tauʻatāiná kia ʻAkilisi Pōhiva ke poupou ange ʻaki hano ʻoange haʻane kau mēmipa Fale Alea he Pātí ke fakakakato honau fiká kae lava ke nau palēmia kinautolu.
      Kuo taimi ki he Paati Temokalatí mo e kau Tuʻu Tauʻatāiná ken au ngāue fakataha pea fakapapauʻi te nau puke ʻa e mafaí kae ʻikai ko e kau nōpelé.
      ʻI he taʻu ʻe fā kuohilí ne hanga ʻe he ngaahi kaveinga toutou fehuʻia kau ki he Tongasat, ko e vālau ne mapuna hake fekauʻaki mo e vakapuna MA60 ngaohi mei Siainá pea mo hono foaki ʻo e Paʻanga tokoni mei Siainá ʻo ʻufikaua e Fale Alea ne puleʻi ʻe he kau nōpelé.
      ʻOku ʻi ai ʻa e ngaahi ʻuhinga mālohi lahi fau ʻoku nau poupouʻi e foʻi fakakaukau ʻoku totonu ke hoko ha taha mei he kau Tuʻu Tauʻatāiná ko ha palēmia.
      ʻOku maʻu ʻe he kau Tuʻu Tauʻatāiná ʻa e tuʻunga fakaako mo e taukei pea ko e tokolahi ʻo kinautolu ne nau maʻu ʻa e ngaahi lakanga māʻolunga ʻi he ngāue fakapuleʻangá.
      ʻOku ʻi ai ʻa e toko ua mei he kau Tuʻu Tauʻatāiná ʻe ala lava ke hoko ko ha kanititeiti ki he fili palēmiá. Ko Siaosi Sovaleni pea mo Dr ʻAisake Eke.
      Siaosi Sovaleni
      Ko Sovaleni ko e kapiteni ia honau taʻú ʻi he Ako Māʻolunga ʻo Tongá pea ko e foha ia ʻo Dr Langikavaliku ne hoko ko e Tokoni Palēmia ʻa Tonga laka hake ʻi he taʻu ʻe 20. Ko Langikavalikú, ko e fuofua taha Tonga ia ke ne maʻu ha mataʻitohi toketā filōsefa, pea ko e ʻuluaki tokotaha ia ʻi Tonga ne ne fokotuʻu ha liliu fakatemokalati ʻo fakahū atu ki he Tuʻi ʻo Tonga kuo ungafonuá, Taufaʻāhau Tupou IV ke fai hano fakaleleiʻi e konisitūtone ʻa Tongá ʻi he 1975.
      Ko e fokotuʻu ʻa e Langikavaliku ko ʻení ʻa e makatuʻu ne fakatoka ai ʻe ʻAkilisi Pōhiva ʻene vīsone fakapolitikale maʻa Tongá pea mo ʻene fuhu ke hoko ʻa Tonga ko ha fonua ʻoku fakalele fakatemokālati.
      Ko Sovaleni ʻoku lolotonga hoko ko e CEO ʻi he Potungāue ki he Ngaahi Pisinisi mo e Kakai pea kapau ʻe hoko ko e Palēmia hoko ia ʻa Tongá te ne fakakakato ai e misi ʻene tangataʻeikí ʻi he taʻu ʻe 39 kuohilí.
      ʻE lava foki ke toʻo mai ʻe Sovaleni ia ʻa Feʻao Vakatā mei he timi ʻa e kau nōpelé. Naʻá na ako fakataha he Ako Māʻolunga ʻo Tongá mo e ʻunivēsití. ʻI he lolotonga ní ko Vakatā ʻoku minisitā ʻi he Potungāue maʻa e kakaí kae CEO ʻa Sovaleni ʻi he Potungāue tatau.
      Dr ‘Aisake Eke
      Ko Dr ʻAisake Eke ko e kanititeiti ia naʻe tokolahi taha ʻa e fili ki aí. ʻOku fokotuʻu mai ʻe he fika ko ʻení ʻoku ʻi ai ʻene totonu ʻana ke hoko ko e palēmia hoko ia ʻa Tongá. Ko e toʻo fatongia ʻa Eke lolotonga e lele ʻa e Fale Alea ne toki ʻosí ne mahino ʻa ʻene maʻu ʻa e anga fakataki lelei ʻoku fiemaʻu ke ne langa ha fonua maʻa e lelei ʻa Tonga kotoá.
      Naʻá ne fokotuʻu atu foki ha lao fakaangaanga ke fili ʻe he kakai ʻa e lakanga palēmiá kae ʻikai ko e toko 26 ʻe filiʻi ki Fale Alea neongo naʻe ʻikai paasi ʻa e fokotuʻu mahuʻingá ni ʻi he taimi naʻe pālotiʻi ai ʻi he Falé.
      Kapau naʻe paasi ʻa e lao fakaangaanga ko ʻení ko ʻene hoko ia ʻa Tonga ʻo temokalati kakato koeʻuhi he ʻe makatuʻunga leva e founga ki hono tataki ʻo e fonuá ʻi he loto e tokolahi ʻo e kakaí.
      ʻOku malava pe ʻa Eke ʻo ngāue fakataha kau nōpelé pe Pātí mo e kau Tuʻu Tauʻatāiná. Ko e tokotaha poupou fefeka ʻeni ʻo e Paati Temokalatí tautefito ki he taimi ʻoku pālotiʻi ai e ngaahi ʻasenita ʻa e Falé. ʻOku vouti maʻu pe ʻa Eke ia ki he Pātí pea pehē pe foki ʻi he taimi ne fakanofo ai ia ʻe Looti Tuʻivakanō ke hoko ko e Minisitā Paʻangá.
      ‘Akilisi Pohiva
      ʻOku toe ʻi aim o e totonu pe foki ʻa ʻAkilisi Pōhiva ke hoko ko e Palēmia hoko ia ʻa Tongá. ʻI he taʻu ʻe 30 kuohilí naʻá ne teke ʻa e vīsone ke hoko ʻa Tonga ko ha puleʻanga ʻoku fakalele ʻi he founga fakatemokalatí.
      Ko ‘ene kei ‘i he Fale Aleá ko e fakaʻilonga mahino ko e loto ia ʻo e kakaí pea ko e loto ʻo e kakaí ko e makatuʻunga ia ʻo ha puleʻanga fakalele fakatemokalatí.
      Ka ʻe makatuʻunga pe ʻeni ʻi he pau ke talanoa lelei mo e kau Tuʻu Tauʻatāiná.
      ʻOku ngali kiate au ko e pēseti ʻe 90 ʻo e kau Tuʻu Tauʻatāiná ʻoku nau fuʻu taukaveʻi ʻa e ngaahi tefitoʻi kaveinga ʻo e fakatauʻatāiná mo e totonu fakasivile ʻa e kakaí pe lipeloló pea te nau hangē pe ko Dr Eké ʻo poupouʻi e ngaahi ʻāsenita fakapolitikale ʻa e Paati Temokalatí.
      Ko ʻEtuate Lavulavu, Fakafofonga Fale Alea ia ʻo Vavaʻu 16, ne ne ʻosi fetuʻutaki hake ia ki he Paati Temokalatí ki muʻa he kamata ʻa e kemipeini fili Fale Aleá ʻo fakamahino ʻa ʻene fie kau ki he Pātí . Neongo ia ki muʻa pea fakataha ʻa e Pātí ke aleaʻi ʻenau lisi ki he tautahí kuo pulusi ʻe he foha ʻo ʻAkilisi ʻi he fonó, Māteni Tapueluelu ha lisi ʻo ne pehe ko e lisi ia ʻa e Pātí ki tahí.
      Ne hū hake heni e Tokoni Taki ʻo e Pātí, ʻIsileli Pulu ʻo ne fakaʻikaiʻi he mitiá ko e lisi ia ʻa e Pātí ki tahí. Ne ʻai hake ai ʻe Pulu ʻa e hingoa ʻo ʻEtuate Lavulavu ko e taha ia ʻenau kau kanititeiti ʻe lava ke fili mai mei Vavaʻú. Kaekehe ne iku tuʻu pe lisi ʻa e Pepa Keleʻá hoko ai pe mo hono fakamafaiʻi ia ʻe ʻAkilisi ki mui.
      Hili e filí ko e mēmipa pe ʻe taha ʻa e Pātí mei tahi ne lavá ʻa ia mei Haʻapai 13 pea mole leva mo honau sea ʻi Haʻapai 12 ki he kau Tuʻu Tauʻatāiná. Ko e kau kanititeiti ʻa e Pātí ki Vavaʻu mo Niuá ne ʻikai fili ha taha ia.
      ʻOku ʻi ai ʻa e faingamālie ʻe lava ke ngāue fakataha ʻa Saia Piukala mo Pohiva mo e Pātí. Ko hono tokoua ʻa Piveni Piukala ʻa ia ne hoko ko e kanititeti ʻa e Pātí mei Vavaʻu 14 ʻi he 2010, neongo ne ʻikai ke ne lava ki Fale Alea.
      Ko Sione Vuna Fāʻotusia ne ʻi ai ʻene fetuʻutaki mo e Komiti Totonu ʻa e Tangatá mo e Temokalatí. Ko e Kōmiti Totonu ʻa e Tangatá ko ʻene fanautama ʻeni ʻa e Paati Temokalati ʻa e ʻOtu Motu Angaʻofá.
      Ko Sāmiu Kiuta Vaipulu, Tokoni Palēmia ia ʻa Tonga ki muʻá, ko e tama lelei pe ia ʻiate ia, ka e fakatatau ki heʻene toʻo fatongia he taʻu ʻe fā kuohilí ʻoku ʻikai ke u tui ʻokú ne maʻu ʻa e founga takí leleí mo ha faʻahinga tūkunga fakakaukau fakapolitikale ke ne hoko ai ko ha Palēmia pe ko ha Tokoni Palēmia.
      ʻE kei tuʻu fehuʻia pe ʻene ngaahi fai fakamaau fakapolitikalé hili e ngaʻuta ʻa e fonuá ʻi hono ʻomai ʻo e vakapuna ne ngaahi Siaina MA60, ʻa ia ne iku toki toʻo hili ia e ngaahi tenge fakapolitikale mo fakapaʻanga mei Nuʻu Sila.

      Kau nōpelé:
      Kuo taimi ki he kau nōpelé ke nau fakalāngilangi ʻataʻatā pe kae tuku hono tataki ʻo e fonuá ki he kau fakafofonga ʻo e kakaí.

      Na’e fili pe kinautolu ‘e he toko 33 ‘o e hou’eiki nopele kae ‘ikai ko e tokolahi taha ‘o e kakai. Pea oku ‘ikai fea ke nau taki kinautolu ‘i he kau memipa Fale Alea ne fili fakatemokalati atu ia ‘e he tokolahi ‘o e kakai ki loto.

      Ne toe fili mai pe ʻa e Palēmia ʻa Tonga ki muʻá, Looti Tuʻivakanō ʻe he houʻeiki nōpelé ke hoko ko honau fakafofonga ki Fale Alea he uike kuo ʻosí pea ko e nōpele lelei pe ia ʻiate ia pē.
      Ka neongo ia ʻoku kei tuva ʻa e ngaahi fehuʻi ʻoku teʻeki lava tali kau ki he paʻanga ʻAmelika ʻe 49 miliona pe 97 miliona Tonga ko ha paʻanga tokoni ki he puleʻanga Tongá ne iku ia kia Pilinisesi Pilolevu mo ʻene kautaha satelaité lolotonga hono tataki ʻe Looti Tuʻivakanō ʻa e fonuá.
      Ko Dr Langikavaliku mo e ngaahi tefito ʻo e kau poupou temokaālatí
      Naʻe fuofua ʻilo ʻa ʻAkilisi ki he fokotuʻu ʻa Langikavaliku ke kamata ha liliu fakakonisitutone ʻi Tonga ke toe fakatemokalati ange ʻi he 1976 lolotonga ʻene ako ʻi he USP. Ko ‘eni ‘a hono fakalea o e fokotuʻu ʻa Langikavalikú ʻi ha tohi ne faʻu ʻe he tangata ko Kenneth Bain ne ui ko e The New Friendly Islander: A Voice from Within: ‘I he ta’u 1975 na’a ku ‘oatu ai ha fokotu’u makehe ki He’ene ‘Afio ki ha liliu fakakonisitūtone, na’e fatu ke ‘oange ha faingamāle lahi ange ki he kakaí ke fakahā honau le’ó ‘i he ngaahi me’a ‘oku kau tonu fakapolitikale kiate kinautolú. Na’e tipeiti’i e fokotu’ú ni ‘i he kapinetí ‘i ha fo’i fakataha kehekehe ‘e 12, tautoloi mei he taimi ki he taimi pea iku pe ‘o ‘ikai tali…(ka) na’e taumu’a ‘eni ke liliu [e pule’angá] ki he sisitemi ‘e fili’i kakato e kau taki ‘e he kakaí ‘i ha fo’i vaa’i taimi ‘e ‘ikai toe si’i ‘i he ta’u ‘e hiva pea ‘ikai laka hake ‘i he ta’u ‘e 15…(I he lau ‘a Dr Langikavaliku na’a ne pehe he taimi ko iá) ka ko e ta’u 1991 ‘eni ta’u ia ‘e 16 mei he’ene fokotu’ú ngali pe kuo ‘osi e taimí. Na’e mahu’inga ‘i he’eku fakakaukaú ke fai ‘e he pule’angá ‘a e langa ngāue ko iá pea mo fanongonongo ha Komisoni ke vakai’i ‘a e Konisitūtoné. Na’e tonu ke tali pe ke sivi’i ‘a e fakakaukau ki he ngaahi me’á ni mo kamata leva ke ngāue ki ai mo e kakaí. Ka ‘i he taimi ‘e ni’ihi ‘oku ‘ikai ke u ‘ilo pe te tau kei fu’u tatali loloa.”
      Ko e kau Tuʻu Tauʻatāina ko:
      1.Siaosi Sovaleni
      2.Dr ‘Aisake Eke
      3.Poasi Tei
      4.Vuna Fa’otusia
      5.Viliami Hingano Manuopangai
      6.Dr Saia Piukala
      7.Samiu Vaipulu
      8.‘Etuate Lavulavu
      9.Fe’ao Vakata


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