Popua Park and Golf Course. Photo/Kalino Lātū

The government has cited concerns that the democrats’ PTOA party  is not registered as a legal entity as one of the reasons it banned the organisation from holding a meeting at the Popua National Park on Saturday.

There was a big question mark (“fakafehu’ia lahi”) over it, Chief Secretary Edgar Cocker told Kaniva news.

Cocker said a royal commission led by Justice Charles Cato was investigating how the late ‘Akilisi Pōhiva government’s funding of the recreational park project was spent.

The park was a meeting place for the PTOA party.

Reports said the park was closed down over the weekend and some members of the King’s Armed Forces were spotted guarding the place.

However, Cocker said the park was still open to the public, but the PTOA members and supporters were not allowed to use it for their last week’s get together because of the investigation.

The investigation came after the Auditor General said last year an audit of the spending on the  park found no laws had been  breached.

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It also came after King Tupou VI ordered three petitions attacking the late Pōhiva’s government to be referred to the Ombudsman in March.

As Kaniva news reported, the petitions were organised by long standing opponents of the government who demanded  the government be dissolved.

The petitioners alleged that there was a misuse of public finances and resources by the former government.

Former government minister and lawyer Clive Edwards presented a petition signed by former politicians.

Noble MP Lord Nuku presented a petition from the country’s nobles.

The third petition was presented by former MP Teisina Fuko from members of the general public.

The Lord Privy Seal said at the time the Ombudsman would investigate complaints in the petition, take such action as he considered appropriate and make a determination on any instance of mal-administration which he found to have been established to his satisfaction.

The Ombudsman would report to the king.

Those petitions were submitted after the Auditor General found that claims against seven Ministers of the late Pōhiva government, including Hon Pōhiva, in a 2018 petition raised by PSA Head Mele ‘Amanaki, were untrue.

The Auditor General Sēfita Tangi did not report any breaches of the law, the constitution or any misappropriation of public funds as alleged in ‘Amanaki’s petition.

However, Tangi said some employment contracts raised in the petition “did not comply” with the Public Service Act 2002.

Tangi recommended that the government should refer some of the complaints, including appointments of some government staff and workers raised in the petition, to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The Auditor General said the audit was hindered in some cases because some records were unavailable or were not provided.

This occurred when the auditors were trying to assess the outcomes of some of the government projects and the performances of some employees hired by the government.

The main points

  • The government has cited concerns that the democrats’ PTOA party  is not registered as a legal entity as one of the reasons it banned the organisation from holding a meeting at the Popua National Part on Saturday.
  • There was a serious concern (“fakafehu’ia lahi”) about it, Chief Secretary Edgar Cocker told Kaniva news.

For more information

Multiple petitions call for dissolution of Tonga Parliament

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