Auditors elaborate on special report: Why it didn’t say anybody had broken the law

'Oku 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

Tonga’s Auditor-General Sēfita Tangi and ex-Auditor General Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa have given a clearer picture of the special report in response to Public Service Association head Mele ‘Amanaki‘s petition to Parliament.

The 12-page report by Tangi has only been made available in Tongan.

Tongan has a smaller vocabulary than English and so there have been problems with technical terms.

This has been apparent in how the Auditor’s special report was interpreted by many after it was released to the public.

The Auditor General used the words “’Ikai faipau ki he lao ngāue fakapule’anga 2002” or “did not exactly follow the Public Service Act 2002.”

This has been rephrased by some on social media as “maumau’i ‘a e lao” or breached of the law.

Kaniva news contacted the Auditor General to ask for his definition in English so our readers can have a clear understanding of the response.

The Auditor did not recommend any penalties or holding the Ministers or those who did not follow the law legally responsible.

Instead, the report only recommended that the process of employing some employees for the government, which was raised in the petition, be returned to the PSC for the process to be completed.

The petition alleged that seven cabinet Ministers, including the Prime Minister, had breached the constitution or the law and some had abused public funds.

The report did not report any breach or misappropriation of public fund.

Not comply

Tangi told Kaniva news the English translation of “faipau” as used in his report was “compliance/comply” and “‘ikai faipau” for not comply.

In his report he also used the Tongan phrase “Makatu’unga ‘i he ngaahi tu’unga fakalao” or “were based on legal matters.” He said he was referring to some of the cases that should have been dealt with by laws and they did not pretty much relate to public funds.

He did not respond after we asked him why he did not use the phrase “maumau’i ‘o e lao” “breach of the law” if the law was broken and why he did not use normal Tongan word such as “ta’efakalao” (illegal or unlawful) in his report.

Procedural mistakes

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa responded to the same questions by saying that what Tangi was talking about were “procedural mistakes or errors or failing to observe or failing to follow procedural matters.”

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said the report talked about “civil law, not criminal law.”

They were not mistakes that had caused government great loss, he said.

These mistakes can be fixed by completing paper works according to the required process and it would be fine, he said.

The auditor found that the process and employment of workers at the Popua Park did not comply with the law. However, he found that this was done to save public funds.

Hon. Tu’ionetoa said this included the Prime Minister hiring workers who were paid at low rates and agreeing with Ministry of Infrastructure to use its machinery and only pay for their petrol.

The special report said that for various reasons, three of these workers, including former MP ‘Etuate Lavulavu, ‘Automalo Tupou and Sione Kava, were not paid for the work they did

As Kaniva news reported recently, an independent report by PECG said there was evident saving was made in the Popua project.

Breach and Illegality

Tu’i’onetoa said the phrase breach of the law (maumau’i e lao)  and illegality (ta’efakalao) were different in meaning from procedural mistakes or errors and this was why the Auditor’s report did not use them.

He said breach in civil law was an act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreements or code of conducts.

He said such breaches usually arose in civil law and involved contract law, for which compensation was by way of damages only if there was loss suffered.

He said the word illegality meant that the case had a criminal element in it or there was an intention to commit an offense. Penalties could include damages and imprisonment.

He said criminal activity involved “ill intention,” such as in theft.

An act contrary to or forbidden by law, especially in criminal law. This would be the same whether somebody was selling drugs or stealing to satisfy their hunger, he said.


Procedural mistakes or omissions were quite different, Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said.

“Let’s say the government procedure required a process go through five steps,” he said.

“I could tell that two steps in the process could be inefficient to complete the work so I choose to complete only three of the five steps and ignore the two.

“After doing that the whole process ended up successfully and saved costs, despite the fact it did not follow the whole steps required  by the law.

“My question is: Are we going to penalise that person because he did not exactly follow the law when what he did was to make the process effective and efficient and he did it better than a person who followed the letter of the law?

“We should understand what we normally have from keeping to the law.

“Keeping the law does not mean its purpose is always achieved, effective or efficient or prevent wastage.

“We should have laws to uphold order, but at the same time the law is not perfect because it is man made.”

The main points

  • Tonga’s Auditor-General Sefita Tangi and ex-Auditor General Pohhiva Tu’i’onetoa have given a clearer picture of the special report in response to Public Service Association head Mele ‘Amanaki‘s petition to Parliament.
  • The report by Hon. Tangi has only been made available in Tongan.
  • Tongan has a smaller vocabulary than English and so there have been problems with technical terms.

For more information

Petition: Auditor’s report shows no breach of constitution or misappropriation of public funds

Gov’t saves millions on Popua Park golf course building project, independent report says


  1. Kuo ‘i ai ‘eni hano huluhulu ‘e he Ātita Seniale ‘a Tonga Sēfita Tangi mo e ‘Ātita Seniale Mālōloo’ Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa ha ‘ata ke toe mahino ange ‘a e līpooti makehe ko e tali ki he tohi tangi ki Fale Alea ‘a e ‘ulu ‘o e PSA Mele ‘Amanaki.

    Ko e tohi tangi ko ‘eni na’e peesi ‘e 12 pea fai ‘i he lea faka-Tonga’ ‘ata’atā pe.

    ‘Oku ‘i ai ‘a e palopalema ‘i he lea faka-Tonga koe’uhi ko ‘ene honge lea ke fakamalata’i e ngaahi me’a fakatekinikale hangē ko ha lipooti faka‘ātita.

    Hangē ko ‘eni na’e ngāue’aki mai ‘aki ‘e he ‘Atita ‘a e lea – “’Ikai faipau ki he Lao Ngāue Fakapule’anga 2002” ‘o ne ‘uhinga ki he ngaahi me’a ni’ihi ne tukuaki’i ‘i he Tohi Tangi.

    Taimi ne tuku ange mai ai ‘a e lipōti’ ki tu’a ne faka’uhinga’i mo fakalea ‘eni ia ‘e he tokolahi ‘oku tatau pe ia mo e pehē mai – na’e maumau’i ‘a e lao’.

    Ka ka ‘okapau ‘e liliu e ongo faka’uhinga ‘e ua ko ‘eni’ ki he lea ‘Ingilisi ‘e ‘i ai hona kehekehe lahi.

    Na’e kole leva ‘e he Kaniva kia Tangi ke ne fakahā mai ange ko e ha ‘a e lea ‘Ingilisi ne ne mei ngāue’aki ki he – “’Ikai faipau ki he lao ngāue fakapule’anga 2002” kapau na’e fai ‘a e lipooti ‘i he lea ‘Ingilisi’.

    Ko ‘ene tali na’a’ ne pehē: “Ko e faka-tonga ‘oku ngaue’aki ‘i he faka-tonga ‘o ‘etau ngaahi lao ki he “compliance/comply” ko e “faipau”. ‘Oku ou tui ‘oku ‘ikai ai faingata’a fefe hono faka’uhinga’i ‘o e “faipau” mo e “‘ikai faipau”.

    Na’a ne toe ngāue’aki foki ‘i he līpōti’ ‘a e lea “Makatu’unga ‘i he ngaahi tu’unga fakalao” ko ‘ene tali ia ki he lāunga ‘a e tohi tangi ki he ngaahi keisi hangē ko e pehē ne feinga e ‘Eiki Palēmia ke fakafe’ātungia’i e fokotu’u lakanga ‘o e CEO ‘a e Potungāue Ako’ ko Claude Tupou, mo e tu’utu’uni ‘a e ‘Eiki Palēmia ke fakahiki ‘a e toko ua mei he Potungāue ki Muli ko ‘Eiki Fanetupouvava’u Kaho mo ‘Eiki Marcella Kalaniuvalu Fotofili.

    ‘I hono ‘eke pe ko e hā e ‘uhinga ‘o ‘ene fakalea ko ‘eni pea na’e pehē ‘e Tangi: “felave’i hangatonu pe mo e ngaahi me’a fakalao ‘o si’isi’i ha kaunga ki he ngaahi me’a fakapa’anga faka-pule’anga.”

    Ko e fakafehu’i foki ‘a e Kaniva’ ke fakamahino mai pe ko e ha na’e ‘ikai ngāue’aki ai ‘a e lea mahino kapau na’e maumau’i ‘a e lao’ pea na’e mei mahino ange nai kapau na’e ngāue’aki mai ‘a e lea – na’e ta’efakalao pe maumau lao ‘a ha ni’ihi pe kau Ministā ko ‘eni ne tu’unga ai ‘a e Tohi Tangi.

    Na’e ‘ikai ha toe fakamatala fakaikiiki ki heni ‘a Tangi.

    Kaekehe, ne ‘i ai ‘a e tali ‘a Pōhiva Tu’i’oneota ki he fehu’i tatau ne fai kia Tangi.

    Na’e fakamahino ‘e Tu’i’onetoa ‘ene ma’u ‘ana ki he ‘uhinga na’e ‘ikai ngāue’aki ai ‘e he ‘ātita ‘a e lea hangē ko e – maumau’i ‘o e lao (breach of the law) pe ne ta’efakalao (illegal pe unlawful).

    ‘A ia na’a’ ne pehē ko e maumau’i ‘o e lao (breach of the law) ‘oku ‘i ai ‘a e ‘elemeniti faihia ia ai ‘i he taumu’a na’e ‘ikai fai ai ki he lau ‘a e lao, pe aleapau pe ki ha tu’utu’uni faka’ulungāanga. Pea ko e ngaahi me’a ‘eni ia ‘i he lao sivile ‘a ia ka hoko ha maumau lao ‘e muimui mai ai ha ‘eke huhu’i kapau ne ‘i ai fu’u mole lahi he maumau lao ko eni.

    Ko e ta’efakalao (illegality pe unlawfulness) na’e ‘i ai ‘a e ‘elemēniti faihia ai pea mo e taumu’a ke fai ha hia. Pea ‘i he lao ‘oku tautea ia ‘o ‘ikai ki he maumau pe ka ‘e kau ai ‘a e ngāue pōpula hangē ko e ma’u mo ha faito’o konatapu pe fai ha aleapau ta’efakalao i he ngaahi keisi lahi.

    ‘I he lau ‘a Tu’i’onetoa, ko e me’a na’e talanoa kiai a e ‘atita ko e fehalaaki fakangāue pe procedural mistakes or errors or failing to observe or failing to follow procedural matters, in civil law, not in criminal law ‘o kehe ia mei he maumau lao mo e ngaue ta’efakalao.

    ‘Oku ‘ikai ko ha fehalaaki ia na’e tu’utāmaki ai a e Pule’anga pe hoko ha fu’u mole, pe hia ‘o pehē ne kaiha’a ha taha.

    Pea ko hono folova ko hono fakakakato pe a e me’a fakapepa pea fe’unga. Na’e iai ‘a e ta’e muimui ia he founga ngāue pe procedures ‘o tupu ai a e fakahaofi ai ‘a e pa’anga lahi a e pule’anga he ngaue koia ki he Paaka-Popua, ko Tu’i’onetoa ia.

    Kapau na’e follow ae written procedures na’e fakamole ange ia. Law is not perfect. Sometimes bad law or loopholes in law are identified but take years before they can be amended.

    Na’e ‘ai leva ‘ene tala fakatātā: Tau pehē ‘oku puke a e faiako, pea ‘oku fiema’u hano fetongi fakataimi, ka e kei hoko atu ‘a e ako a e fanau he ‘oku vave a e sivi. Ko e mafai ko eni ne ‘i he Minisitā Ako pe.

    Ko e founga na’e toki fokotu’u he Lao PSC he 2010, ke ‘’ave ‘a e fatongia koia mei he Minisita Ako ki he Public Service Commission (PSC) ke nau fakahoko. ‘Oku mei māhina ia ‘e tolu e feinga ‘a e PSC ke fakakakato ‘a e tu’utu’uni ‘a e lao’ ki heni kae toki ‘omai ha faiako fatongi. Ko e fehu’i, ‘oku fakapotopoto nai ki he Minisita Ako he taimi koeni, ke ne haea mai leva ha faiako fakataimi ke lava a e fanau ‘o ako ki he sivi, neongo ‘e maumau a e lao, pe ‘e muimui pe ki he Lao, ke toki ma’u mai a e faiako ‘osi a e mahina ‘e tolu, ko e ‘osi ia a e teemi ako ‘e taha.

    Te tau tautea ha Minisita Ako kapau te ne mamau’i a e Tu’utu’uni a e PSC, ka e fei mo hire mai ha faiako.

    ‘Oku iai mo e fakaanga ‘e taha ‘o pehe ends do not justify the means. Oku mo’oni a e fakaanga koia kapau na’a te kaiha’a ‘o fafanga’aki ha kau fiekaia. ‘Oku ‘ikai pe ha taimi ia ‘e tonu ai a e kaiha’a, koe’uhi na’e ‘osi iai pe a e ill intention ia.

    Kehe ‘aupito ia mo e procedural mistakes or omissions. Ko e ‘ikai muimui pau ia ki he founga ngaue. Hange koeni, na’e tu’utu’uni ‘e he founga ngaue ke fakakakato ‘a e sitepu ‘e 5, pea toki kakato a e fo’i ngaue koia. Pea te ‘alu atu kita, ‘o te pehe oku inefficient a e toe follow a e fo’I processes ‘e 2, pea te fakakakato pe ‘e kita a e tolu (3), ‘ikai ngata ‘a e ma’u pe ‘a e taumu’a ngaue, ka te toe fakahaofi ‘e kita a e costs kapau na’e fai a e sitepu ‘e 2 na’e ‘ikai fai; neongo na’e ‘ikai faipau ki he lao. Ko e fehui ‘E ha te tau tautea ‘a e tokotaha koia, ko e ‘ikai faipau ki he lao, neongo na’e efficient pea effective ange ‘ene performance, he tokotaha na’e follow mate he letter of the law?

    ‘Oku ou tui ‘oku tonu ke mahino kiate kitautolu a e ola o e tauhi lao. ‘Oku ‘ikai pehe ia ko e tauhi lao kotoa pe pea a’usia a e taumu’a ngaue: efficient pe effective, or prevent wastage. Vakai ange ‘oku lava ke tau ma’u ha ola ‘e 4 pe lahi ange he tauhi ki he lao .
    1) Tauhi a e lao, pea ma’u a e taumu’a ‘o e lao.
    2) Tauhi a e lao, ka e ‘ikai pe ma’u a e taumu’a ia ‘o e lao
    3) Ta’e tauhi a e lao, pea ‘ikai ma’u a e taumu’a ‘o e lao,
    4) Ta’e tauhi a e lao, ka e kei ma’u pe a e taumu’a ia ‘o e lao, pea toe fakalaka ange ‘a e ngaue ia..

    Na’e ‘uhinga foki a e fa’u ‘o e lao ko ‘etau fakakaukau ko e founga ia ‘e malu ai a e ngaue, pea a’usia ‘etau ngaahi taumu’a ngaue. Pea ‘oku mahu’inga ‘aupito ia. ‘Oku totonu pe ke ‘iai a e lao, ke pukepuke ‘a e ngaue ki he maau. Ka ‘i he taimi tatau, ko e me’angaue oku ‘ikai haohaoa. ‘Oku kei to nounou pe he koe fa’u ‘ehe tangata, ‘e kei lava pe ke toe fakalelei ‘I he kaha’u. ‘Oku mahino pe kia kitautolu, oku kei lava pe a e tangata ‘o muimui pe ki he lao koia, ke ma’u ‘ene me’a fakafo’ituitui ‘a’ana, o ‘ikai koe taumu’a na’e fa’u kiai a e lao. Pea kei lava pe ke ne maumau’i a e lao, ka e kei ma’u pe a e taumu’a ‘o e lao pe toe fakalaka ange ‘a e lelei oku ma’u.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here