Acting Speaker says he could resign as gov’t sends question on lawfulness of Lord Tu‘ilakepa’s appointment to its legal adviser

Acting Speaker Lord Tu’ilakepa said in Parliament he was prepared to resign if the government bench no longer wanted him.

Lord Tu’ilakepa was reluctant to step in and replace Speaker Lord Fakafanua on Tuesday’s afternoon sessions after Kaniva news published a report last week quoting the Police Minister  as saying it appeared his position was unconstitutional.

The king’s noble said an act of impeachment against him was being processed.

He told the House some cabinet ministers did not want him to continue in the position.

He moved the House postpone the session if legal action was being taken against him.

Cabinet position

The Minister of Police, Hon. Tapueluelu, confirmed in Parliament that cabinet had passed a resolution to take legal action on the appointment of the Acting Speaker.

He said it was an “opinion” of the government that the Noble’s appointment was illegal and cabinet had asked the government’s legal adviser to begin work on the issue.

Lord Tu’ilakepa attempted to counter the claim and asked the Minister if the Acting Speaker was different from the position of Deputy Prime Minister.

Hon. Tapueluelu said they were different according to the Constitution, but he did not provide the details.

The Chair of the Whole House Committee, Veivosa Taka, told Lord Tu’ilakepa he could continue as Acting Speaker until the courts made a ruling on the issue.

Lord Tu’ilakepa agreed to the suggestion.

Speaker Lord Fakafanua said this morning the Acting Speaker was appointed according to Parliament’s law book.

He asked Parliament MPs to avoid any further discussion on the matter.

Attack on Kaniva news

The Speaker has come forward and clarified Parliament’s position on the issue after his Chief Secretary Gloria Pole’o attacked Kaniva news after we reported the case last week.

We were quite clearly reporting what the Police Minister told Television Tonga  about how the government and its legal adviser in New Zealand interpreted the Constitution and its relation to the rules on Parliamentary procedures.

In our story we said: “Lord Tu’ilakepa’s appointment as Acting Speaker may have been unconstitutional, the Police Minister has claimed.”

Our story was published about two weeks after the story was originally carried by Television Tonga.

However, the Chief Clerk did not mention the Minister of Police or Television Tonga when she attempted to refute our story.

She said: “The Office of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga refutes the claim published on the website Kaniva Tonga that “the Lord Tu’ilakepa’s appointment as Acting Speaker may have been unconstitutional according to Clause 61(4) of the Constitution.”

Tonga Broadcasting Commission, which owns Television Tonga, has published the Chief Secretary’s statement on its news website without saying that the story was originally carried by its television channel.

The main points

  • Acting Speaker Lord Tu’ilakapa said in Parliament he was prepared to resign if the government bench no longer wanted him.
  • Lord Tu’ilakepa was reluctant to step in and replace Speaker Lord Fakafanua on Tuesday’s afternoon sessions after Kaniva news published a report last week quoting the Police Minister  as saying it appeared his position was unconstitutional.

For more information

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here