Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu'i'onetoa. Photo/Kaniva Tonga

Prime Minster Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa said the king has given him a good reason why he rejected his request to have him become a member of the Privy Council.

His Majesty also declined a proposal by Hon Tu’i’onetoa to increase the power of the Minister of Police over the Police Commissioner. Again the Prime Minister said the king gave him another good reason for it.

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said King Tupou VI told him that their monthly audiences would help sort out any differences either between the privy council and cabinet or between the king and the Prime Minister.

“That’s an opportunity for us only to meet and no one else, to discuss issues regarding the country as a whole,” Hon Tu’i’onetoa said in Tongan.

As Kaniva news reported last night, the Prime Minister revealed the rejections by the king during a meeting with the Tongan community in Auckland on Monday.

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Ratifying PACER Plus

The Prime Minister said in their recent audience with the king at ‘Atalanga in Auckland  they discussed the regional trade deal known as PACER Plus.

The Prime Minister told Kaniva news this afternoon he was the one who brought the trade treaty to Tonga with the idea that if “we need growth in economy, we need free trade or free from the barriers of Trade.”

Hon Tu’i’onetoa said the king did not agree with Tonga signing the treaty when the government endorsed it in 2015.

During their ‘Atalanga audience the king finally agreed to ratify the PACER Plus after he listened to what Hon Tu’i’onetoa told him about the economic deal.

The Prime Minister said Tonga would sign PACER Plus early next year.

“This has been achieved through a discussion that involved feveitokai’aki spirit and with respect to point of arguments,” he said in Tongan.

Police Commissioner and Minister of Police

The Prime Minister said the king maintained his view that police force should be controlled by the Police Commissioner rather than the minister.

He said the king believed if the force was controlled by the Minister of Police it could open opportunity to politicise certain events or activities.

“I respect his view,” Hon Tu’i’onetoa said.

He said that when he was Police Minister he deeply felt the fact he had no power over the Police Commissioner.

He said times had gone by and he had begun to believe it was better for him as minister to not have control over the police.

“I may use that power to arrest my political rivals if I have issues with them,” Hon Tu’i’onetoa said.

The king and Hon Tu’i’onetoa’s audience came after the king rejected repeated requests by the Late Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva to meet the king after the king dissolved Parliament in 2017.

The constitution stipulates that the prime minister must report to the king to discuss government matters.

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