Acting Speaker shuts down discussion on new Bills, tells House to come back the next day

'Oku taupotu 'i lalo he ongoongo' ni ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

Parliament was in uproar again yesterday, Monday 18, as the acting speaker, Lord Tu’ilakepa, appeared to be deliberately using his powers to slow the passage of the governments six new  Bills through the House.

In an act that some people might interpret as retaliation against the government for not allowing more public consultation on its proposed new laws,  Lord Tu’ilakepa demanded the government give reasons why it considered the new Bills were urgent.

The Minister of Police, Mateni Tapueluelu, told Lord Tu’ilakepa he believed he had breached Parliament’s rules.

Lord Tu’ilakepa walked out of Parliament last week along with his noble colleagues after a row with the commoner-led government over the bills. The government has been using talk back radio to gauge public feelings about the legislation.

He returned to the House yesterday with the rest of the nobles.

Lord Tu’ilakepa’s demand came despite clarification by the government benches that the law does not require any reasons to explain why a Bill is considered urgent.

The Acting Speaker cited a letter submitted to the House in February by the Prime Minister.

The letter told the House the government needed to table an Investment bill urgently because it wanted the release of TP$30 million in budget support.

Request to resubmit PM’s letter

MP Mo’ale Finau asked Lord Tu’ilakepa whether he would allow Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva to resubmit his letter the following day with the reasons for the urgency, but the Acting Speaker did not give a specific reply.

The Prime Minister had already submitted a letter certifying the Bills were urgent, as required by law.

Lord Tu’ilakepa did not accept this.

Reasons for urgency

The Prime Minister told the House the Bills were urgent because most of the government policies were governed by laws that related to the Bills and amendments. He said the government could do nothing because these laws had “ha’iha’i” (tied) them.

The Minister of Justice said there were a number of financial requirements for the government so it could  deal with some of the changes to the court system including a salary of TP$600,000. He said if a Supreme Judge retired this year two Tongan Supreme judges may be appointed.

“…ko e fatongia fakapa’anga eni.  ‘Oku lahi ‘a e ‘u me’a fakapa’anga, ‘e kau ‘i he liliu ko eni.  Ko e ‘uhinga ia ‘emau kole atu, ke tali eni kimu’a ‘i he Patiseti,” the Minister of Justice said in Tongan.

This translates into English as: “these are financial obligations. There are too many financial matters, which relate to these amendments. That’s why we asked you to approve this before the new budget.”

Lord Tu’ilakepa’s response

After heated debates between the noble and the government bench, Lord Tu’ilakepa told the House it had to close for the day and said the Bills were not urgent.

He repeatedly warned the House that MPs could say what they liked, but that he must have the last word. 

The Acting speaker continued to disregard the way in which the government benches interpreted clause 131, which requires the Prime Minister to certify the urgency of the Bills and kept citing the letter written by the Prime Minister in February as an example of what he thought was required.

Lord Tu’ilakepa said that when the Prime Minister certified that the six new Bills were urgent, he should have explained why were they urgent.

However, Minister of Police Mateni Tapueluelu corrected Lord Tu’ilakepa and told him the law only required the Prime Minister to certify that the bills were urgent.

Hon. Tapueluelu said the law did not require the Prime Minister to give the reasons why the Bills were urgent.

Clause 131

Clause 131 of the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga says:

“The Legislative Assembly shall not proceed upon a Bill after its first reading for a period of two weeks or such longer time that the Assembly decides is needed to allow members to scrutinise the Bill, and for the public to make submissions, but this shall not apply to –

(a) Appropriation Bills; and

(b) Bills certified by the Prime Minister to be urgent.”

MP Mo’ale Finau asked the Acting Speaker whether he would accept Hon. Pohiva rewriting  his letter the following day to include the reasons why the government wanted the Bills and the amendments to be passed urgently.

However, Lord Tu’ilakepa did not agree. He said he had the Prime Minister’s letter with him but he was just wanted to question why these Bills were urgent.

MP Finau said he thought Lord Tu’ilakepa wanted the Prime Minister to write the same kind of letter as the one submitted with the urgent Investment Bills. He said Hon. Pohiva could do that and submitted the following day.

In Tongan the noble replied: “ ‘Ikai, ko e me’a pē ia ‘a e ‘Eiki Palēmia kae ‘ikai ke pehē ia keu fakavavevave, kuo ‘osi ‘etau taimi ‘atautolu.”

Time is up

This translates into English as: “No, it is up to the Prime Minister but that does not mean I am in a hurry, our time is up.”

Lord Tu’ilakepa told the House it was better for them to come the next day and continue discussion.

He said he did not want Members to be disappointed with him and how he conducted the House.

He asked Members to pray and asked the Lord to lead them the right way in the House the following day.

He said that was the only reason why he wanted the House to postpone its business until the following day.

For more information

Nobles and Cabinet meeting deadlocked as gov’t blocks decision for another public consultation on new Bills

1 COMMENT

  1. Ne toe nga’uta e Fale Alea’ ‘aneafi he hangē ne ngāue’aki ‘e he Sea Le’ole’o’ Looti Tu’ilakepa ‘a hono ngaahi mafai’ ke fakatuai’i’aki ‘a e hala fononga ‘o e ngaahi lao fakaangaanga ‘e ono ‘a e pule’anga’ kuo fakafou ‘i he Fale Alea’. ‘I ha fo’i nga’unu ‘e lava ke faka’uhinga’i ‘e ha ni’ihi ko hono sāuni’i ‘eni ‘o e pule’anga’ ‘i he ‘ikai tali e fokotu’u mei he kau nōpele’ ke fai ha fakataha mata ki he mata mo e kakai’ ‘i he ngaahi lao fakaangaanga ko ‘eni’ , na’e tu’utu’uni ‘e Tu’ilakepa ke ‘oange ‘e he pule’anga’ ‘a e ngaahi ‘uhinga ‘oku ne pehē ai ‘oku fakavavevave ‘a e ngaahi lao fakaangaanga’ ni. Neongo hono fakama’ala’al atu ‘e he tēpile ‘a e pule’anga’ ‘oku ‘ikai tala mai ‘e he lao ke ‘oange ha ‘uhinga ko e hā ‘oku fakavavevave ai ka ne kikihi pe ‘a Tu’ilakepa mo ‘ene fiema’u ke ‘oange ‘a e ‘uhinga’. Ne pehē ‘e he Minisitā Polisi’ ‘oku maumau e tu’utu’uni ‘a e fale’ he ngāue ‘a e Sea’. Ne mahino ‘ene ngaue’aki ‘e Tu’ilakepa hono mafai’ ‘o ne toutou fakamanatu ki he Fale’ ko e me’a kotoa pe ‘e faka’osi ange pe kiate ia. Na’e ‘ikai ke ne nofo taha ki hono fatongia ko e Sea pea ke tu’u ‘i loto kae toe hopo mai ia ‘i fakafekiki mo tipeiti. Neongo ne ‘oatu ‘e he ‘Eiki Palēmia mo e MInisitā Lao’ ‘a e ‘uhinga ‘oku nau pehē ai ‘oku fakavavevave ‘a e ngaahi lao’ ni ne ‘ikai pe tali ia ‘e Tu’ilakepa. Ne fokotu’u atu ‘e Mo’ale Finau pe tene tali ke toe fakahu atu e tohi ‘a e Palemia ‘o fakakau ai ‘a e ‘uhinga ka ne ‘ikai ha tali pau ki ai ‘a Tu’ilakepa. Ne ne iku ai pe ‘o ne toloi e Fale’ mo ne pehē ke toloi he ‘oku ‘ikai ha fakavavevave.
    MEI HE ‘ETITA:
    Ko e kupu 131 eni ‘o e lao ‘oku tu’unga ai ‘a e fakafekiki –
    ‘E ‘ikai ngāue ‘a e Fale Aleá ki he Lao Fakaangaangá hili hono lau ‘uluakí, ki ha taimi ko e uike ‘e 2, pē ko e taimi ‘oku lōloa ange ai ‘oku pehē ‘e he Falé ‘oku fiema’u ke faka’atā ‘a e kau Mēmipá ke nau sivi’i ‘a e Lao Fakaangaangá, pē ki he kakai ‘o e fonuá ke nau fai ha ngaahi fokotu’u, ka ‘e 31 ‘ikai ke kau heni ‘a e Lao ‘o e ‘Esitimetí mo e ngaahi Lao Fakaangaanga ‘oku fakamo’oni’i (certify) mai ‘e he Palēmiá ‘oku fakavavevave.
    Pea ‘i he fakapalangi:
    Clause 131 of the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga:
    The Legislative Assembly shall not proceed upon a Bill after its first reading for a period of two weeks or such longer time that the Assembly decides is needed to allow members to scrutinise the Bill, and for the public to make submissions, but this shall not apply to –
    (a) Appropriation Bills; and
    (b) Bills certified by the Prime Minister to be urgent

    Ko e fakamo’oni ‘i he lao ko ‘eni ‘oku ‘uhinga ki ai ‘a e kupu (b) ko e certify. Ko e ‘elemeniti tefito ‘o ha tohi ‘oku fiema’u ke fakamo’oni’i (certify) ko e pau ke fakamo’oni (sign) mai ai ‘a e tokotaha kuo fakamafai’i ‘e he lao’. ‘I he keisi leva ko ‘eni ne kikihi’i ‘i Fale Alea ‘e he Tokoni Sea, ko e fu’u me’a fo’ou ia ‘aupito ia ‘a ia ko e feinga ‘a e Sea Le’ole’o ke ne fakalahi pe fakafo’ou ‘e ia e lao’, ‘aki ‘ene fiema’u ‘e ia ke toe tala mai ‘i he tohi ‘a e ‘Eiki Palemia’ ko e ha e ‘uhinga ‘oku fakavavevave (urgent) ai ‘a e ngaahi lao ko eni ne fakahū atu’. Oku ‘ikai ‘asi ha konga pehe ia he kupu’i lao ko eni 131. Neongo ne ‘osi toe fakamahino atu pe ‘e he pule’anga ‘a e ‘uhiga ‘oku fakavavevave ai pea fokotu’u atu fefe kapau ‘e toe fakahu fo’ou atu e tohi ‘a e palemia mo e ‘uhinga ‘oku tokanga ki ai ‘a e sea le’ole’o’ ka ne ‘ikai ha’ane tali mahino ‘ana ki pea pehe ‘e ia ke toloi e Fale he ‘oku ‘ikai ha fakavavevave ia.

    Kaekehe ‘i he faka’osi pea tapuni ‘a e Fale na’e me’a ai ‘a Tu’ilakepa ‘o peheni:

    Hou’eiki fēfē kā tau toloi ki ‘apongipongi. ‘Oku mou mea’i ko e ‘ai ko ē ho’omou me’a pea pehē kuo u fai tu’utu’uni, pea tu’unga ai ha’amou tuputāmaki ‘o pehē ko ‘eku founga he ngāue, ‘ikai. Ko ‘apongipongi mou me’a atu ‘o lotu, kole ki he ‘Eiki ko e hā ‘a e me’a totonu ke tau fakahoko ‘auhu. Ko ia pē, ko e ‘uhinga ka tau toloi ki ‘auhu, hē ‘Eiki Minisitā Leipa? ‘Io. Tau toloi ‘a e Fale ki ‘apongipongi.

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