Minister denies allegation and threatens to sue Kakalu; editor says he would apologise  

Oku taupotu 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

Finance Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa has denied allegation by Kakalu ‘O Tonga newspaper last week that he stole two government vehicles and a refrigerator.

Hon Tu’i’onetoa has threatened to sue the newspaper and demanded a front-page retraction of his allegations.

He said the news was made up by the paper’s reporter who did not contact him for a comment.

The paper’s front page last week said: “Ave ta’ema’u ha ngofua ‘e Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa me’alele ‘e 2 mo e ‘aisi e potungaue Tukuhau.”

This translates into English as: “Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa takes without permission two vehicles and a refrigerator from the Ministry of Revenue and Customs.”

The Minister said he, his family, relatives, close friends and Tongatapu 10 constituents were deeply disappointed after the paper alleged “he was stealing.”

The paper’s editor ‘Ulu’alo Po’uhila told Kaniva last week he was aware there had been a call for a correction.

Po’uhila said if the correction and denial by Hon Tu’i’onetoa were correct he would issue a retraction and apologise.

Kakalu’s report

He said the story was based on an Auditor General’s report and that the story had been reported by his correspondent in Tonga.

Po’uhila said he had contacted the correspondent, but had yet to receive any response.

He said on Friday that he would update us if he got a response from his reporter.

We have not received any contact from him.

He said it could be that the Auditor’s report was meant for a former Minister of Revenue and Customs, or his reporter may have confused him with Hon Tu’i’onetoa.

Po’uhila said he was aware that the Auditor’s report did not name the Minister personally, but as the Minister of Revenue and Customs and gave the year during which the Minister was serving the post.

Last year Kaniva reported that Po’uhila and Kakalu issued a retraction and apologised after alleging that Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva was suffering from prostate cancer.

The retraction and apologies came after Hon. Pohiva’s family and Tonga’s Minister of Health issued a statement saying a tissue sample removed from Hon Pōhiva’s prostate was benign and showed no sign of cancer

Ministerial shifts

Hon Tu’i’onetoa was Minister of Revenue and Customs before he was appointed as Minister of Finance.

Tu’i’onetoa replaced former Minister of Revenue and Customs Tevita Lavemaau.

Hon Lavemaau was moved from the Ministry of Revenue and Customs and became Minister of Finance.

He was dismissed from his ministerial post in September 2017.

When the new ‘Akilisi Pohiva government came into power last year, Hon Tu’i’onetoa was appointed as Minister of Finance.

We were unable to obtain a copy of the Auditor’s report referred to by Po’uhila  but we have learned the Auditor General alleged that a Minister of Customs and Revenue took with him two government vehicles and a refrigerator from the Ministry.

It appeared that the Minster took the items and used them at the Ministry of Finance and the Auditor wanted them returned to the Ministry of Customs and Revenue.

Retraction

Kaniva understands Hon Tu’i’onetoa’s niece, lawyer Seinimili Fonua, denied the allegations on Facebook last week.

She begged the paper to read the report carefully, as the Auditor was reporting on another former Minister, not Hon Tu’i’onetoa.

Kakalu’s allegations were quickly shared by some anti-Pohiva government campaigners on Facebook who attacked Hon Tu’i’onetoa and alleged he stole the government’s goods.

“I am writing to express my disappointment regarding the above-mentioned title which said that I took without permission two vehicles and a refrigerator from Tonga’s Ministry of Revenue and Customs,” Hon Tu’i’onetoa told Po’uhila in Tongan in an email seen by Kaniva news.

“This has appeared on Kakalu ‘O Tonga Volume 9 Number 42 Thursday 18 October 2018. I, my family and children along with my close relatives, friends and those from Tongatapu 10, who elected me to represent them in Parliament, were deeply disappointed after I was accused of stealing those goods.

“Your reporter Tonga Fonua was wrong.

“You never gave me a chance to respond.

“I have read the Auditor General’s report and I was a former Auditor General and there was nothing in it that said I committed any wrongdoing.

“Your newspaper has just made it up.”

Hon Tu’i’onetoa said his reliability as Minister of Finance and ex-Auditor General, a person who should be honest in financial matters, has been affected seriously because of what he called “your false news.”

He asked Kakalu’s editor to print a retraction of the story on the front page of the edition.

“If not I will take you to court to clear my reputation,” Hon Tu’i’onetoa said.

The main points

  • Finance Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa has denied allegation by Kakalu ‘O Tonga newspaper last week that he stole two government vehicles and a refrigerator.
  • Tu’i’onetoa has threatened to sue the newspaper and demanded a front-page retraction of his allegations.
  • He said the news was made up by the paper’s reporter who did not contact him for a comment.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Faka’ikai’i ‘e he Minisita Pa’anga’ Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa a hono tukuaki’i ia ‘e he pepa Kakalu ‘O Tonga pea te ne fai ha ngaue fakalao kia kinautolu kapau ‘e ‘ikai ke nau kole fakamolemole.

    Ne fakaha ‘e he ‘etita’ ‘Ulu’alo Po’uhila ki he Kaniva’ te nau kole fakamolemole ‘o kapau ‘oku mo’oni ‘a Tu’i’onetoa.

    Ko e fakamatala hoko hake ‘i lalo’ ko e tohi ia ‘a Tu’i’onetoa ne ‘omai ki he Kaniva’ ‘a ia na’a ne pehē ko e tatau ia ‘o ha’ane launga ne ‘ave ki he Kakalu.

    ‘Oku ou fai atu ‘a e tohi ni ‘o fakaha atu ‘eku lotomamahi ‘i he ‘ulu’itohi ‘i ‘olunga, ‘a e pehe na’aku ‘ave ta’e ma’u ha ngofua ‘a e me’alele ‘e ua mo e ‘aisi ‘a e Potungaue Tukuhau ‘a Tonga. ‘Oku ha eni ‘i Kakalu Kakalu ‘o Tonga Volume 9 Fika42 Tu’apulelu 18 ‘Okatopa, 2018.

    Ko eongoongo koia ‘oku ou lotomamahi ‘aupito ai mo hoku hoa mo ‘eku fanau, fakataha mo hoku famili ofi, mo hoku ngaahi maheni mo kinautolu mei Tongatapu 10, na’a nau fili au kohonau fakafofonga ki he Fale Alea ‘o Tonga, he ‘oku tukuaki’i oku ou kaiha’a, lolotonga koia na’e ‘ikai te u kaiha’asi ae ngaahi koloa koia. ‘Oku hala ‘aupito a e lipooti a e taha ‘o ho’o kau fai ongoongi ‘i loto ‘i he pepa ko Tonga Fonua.

    Na’e ‘ikai tu’o taha ke ‘eke mai ‘e koe pe ko e fai ongoongo koia, ke ‘oatu ha’aku tali. Na’aku ‘osi lau a e Lipooti ‘a e ‘Atita Lolotong, pea ko e Atita Seniale Malolo au, oku ‘ikai ‘aupito ha lipooti pehe a e Atita Seniale Lolotonga, felave’i pea mo au ‘o pehe na’aku fai ‘a e ngaue kovi koia.

    Ko e fa’u ‘ata’ata pe ia ho’o Nusipepa. Ko hoku falalala’anga koe Minisiita Pa’anga Lolotonga mo e Atita Seniale Malolo, ko e tokotaha ‘oku totonu ke faitotonu he me’a fakapa’anga kuo uesia ‘aupito ia he kaha’u koe’uhi ko e fo’i ongoongo loi ko’eni kuo ‘omai ‘i ho’o pepa. Oku ou kole atu ke ke fakafoki a e fakamatala koia ‘i ho’o pepa Kakalu ka hoko ‘o peesi ‘uluaki, o hange pe ko ho’o peesi ‘uluaki mai ‘o hoku tukuaki’i loi ‘i he pepa ‘o e ‘aho 18/10/18. He ka ‘ikai te u ‘ave ia ki he Fakamaau’anga ke kumi ‘eku totonu.

    Pea mou kataki ‘o fakapapau’i ho’omou ongoongo kimu’a pea toki paaki he ‘oku uesia a e ongoongo ‘o e kakai ‘i he ta’emo’oni ‘a e ongoongo, he ‘oku faingata’a ke toe fakafoki mai a e ongoongo kuo ‘alu ki he public.

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