Former Deputy PM Vaipuilu helped into Parliament during opening ceremony

    Tonga’s former Deputy Prime Minister and MP for Vava’u 15, Samiu Vaipulu, was helped into Parliament by staff on Thursday during the opening ceremony of the Legislative Assembly.

    Hon. Vaipulu held a staff member’s right hand while they were walking through the entrance and into the House.

    Kaniva News has been reliably informed Hon. Vaipulu was rushed to hospital last month after concern that he might have suffered a possible stroke.

    He was released after spending some time in hospital.

    Last week Hon Vaipulu was seen limping with a walking stick as he moved towards a lectern to make a speech during Her Majesty the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday celebration at Kuini Salote Memorial Hall.

    Hon. Vaipulu is related to the Queen Mother through their Blake ancestors.

    He was visibly and audibly having difficulty while trying to convey his speech.

    At one stage during his speech he had to be abruptly supported by the Master of Ceremonies Polutele Tu’ihalamaka, after he tried to adjust his footing and appeared to nearly fall back.

    Vaipulu
    Hon Vaipulu (second from left)  was seen limping with a walking stick as he moved towards a lectern to make a speech. Photo/Youtube (Paula Moimoi Lātū)

    He was emotional at the beginning of his speech and at some stages he was crying. He told hundreds of the spectators in the hall with the Queen Mother and the royals that he had been advised by his wife to cancel his speech because of his condition, but he did not accept her advice.

    Hon. Vaipulu was the first commoner elected by the people after the kingdom became a democracy in 2010 in which he was later appointed Deputy Prime Minister.

    While serving in the previous government Hon. Vaipulu was instrumental in bringing the controversial Chinese MA60 aircraft to Tonga in 2013.

    The New Zealand government warned its citizens visiting Tonga that they would fly in the MA60 at their own risk. The MA60 has been involved in several incidents around the world.

    The New Zealand government suspended NZ$8 million in tourism aid to Tonga until the MA60 aircraft was certified by a respected international authority.

    Hon. Vaipulu responded by saying Tonga could not allow a third-party assessment to the aircraft because it would jeopardise the kingdom’s diplomatic relations with China.

    The main points

    • Tonga’s former Deputy Prime Minister and MP for Vava’u 15, Samiu Vaipulu, was helped into Parliament by staff on Thursday during the opening ceremony of the Legislative Assembly.
    • Vaipulu held a staff member’s right hand while they were walking through the entrance and into the House.
    • Kaniva News has been reliably informed Hon. Vaipulu was rushed to hospital last month after concern that he might have suffered a possible stroke.
    • Last week Hon. Vaipulu was seen limping with a walking stick as he moved towards a lectern to make a speech during Her Majesty the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday celebration at Kuini Salote Memorial Hall.

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