Viola Ulakai of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission, who was suspended at the behest of the Prime Minister, has been elected as the new Pacific Islands News Association, representing television.
She was elected at the conclusion of PINA’s Fifth Pacific Media Summit in Tonga.
As Kaniva News reported at the time, in 2016 Ulaki was suspended from her position as Radio and Television Tonga programmes manager by Minister of Public Enterprises, Poasi Tei.
It is understood Hon. Tei was acting under orders from Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.
Her suspension by the TBC board came after Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva alleged she had falsely claimed that a request for a press conference was made on behalf of the Tongan Media Council.
Hon. Pohiva said he suspected her of acting as a mouthpiece for his political opponents.
He was reported to have described the state broadcaster as “an enemy of government.”
Ulaki was later removed from a position as news manager, along with Laumanu Petelō, the editor of TBC’s television and radio. They were moved into a new department under the Commission’s marketing and sales management on the orders of TBC boss Dr Tu’i Uata.
At a public meeting in November 2017 Ulukai told Hon. Pohiva Dr Uata’s actions had tarnished his reputation as leader of the nation.
Tonga has dropped two places in this year’s international press freedom rankings from Reporters Sans frontiers.
It is now listed as 51st out of 180 countries.
The RSF report said the re-election of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva’s party in November 2017 was accompanied by growing tension between the government and journalists.
The Managing Director of Papua New Guinea’s National Broadcasting Corporation, Kora Nou, was voted in as the new President of PINA.
The vice president was the general manager of BroadCom Broadcasting – Katalina Tohi.
Other new board members included George Lavaka of BroadCom Broadcasting for radio, Iliesa Tora for online media, Stanley Simpson for the National Media Association and the director of Solomon Star Newspaper for print.
The 6th Pacific Media Summit will be held in the Solomon Islands in 2020.
For more information