MP Sēmisi Sika has asked why the Kalonikali newspaper, which has links with Minister of Infrastructure ‘Akosita Lavulavu, was distributed during a Parliamentary meeting in Leimātu’a.
It has been claimed the paper, which is owned by ousted MP and Cabinet Minister ‘Etuate Lavulavu and husband of ‘Akosita, was distributed as part of the Lavulavus’ political campaign.
Reliable sources told Kaniva News the paper was distributed in the meeting along with other forms.
A copy of the agenda of the Parliamentary meeting seen by Kaniva News does not mention the paper or say it would be handed out.
A photo of the paper’s front page seen by Kaniva News shows a photograph of former Minister of Infrastructure MP Sika, former Ministry of Infrastructure CEO Ringo Fa’oliu and former Ministry of Infrastructure Director of Corporate Services Division, Kisione Tāufa.
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Fa’oliu and Tāufa have been suspended without pay by the Public Service Commission pending investigation and legal processes.
The heading of the article says in Tongan: “Lau Miliona e Aleapau Ngāue Ne Fai Tōmui mo Kovi.”
In English this means “Multi-millions worth of project contract agreements had been processed late and badly.”
The content of the story included a number of claims linking Tāufa and Fa’oliu with Sika, alleging they involved in the allegations which led to the suspension of Tāufa and Fa’oliu.
The paper has been accused of failing to seek the side of people named in the story.
The story also raised questions about the Five Star Company’s performance of a road sealing project. The company belonged to MP Sika’s parents.
MP Sika said he was curious after a copy of the front page of the paper was uploaded to Facebook by Siaosi Pāongo, a Leimātu’a resident, who was outspoken about the Lavulavus, on Saturday 22 August, the day when the meeting was held at Leimātu’a.
Commenting under Pāonga’s post, MP Sika asked:
“Was this paper with lying information distributed during your Parliamentary meeting?”
In Tongan he said: “Na’e tufa pepa fakamatala loi ko ‘eni i ho mou fakataha ‘a’ahi fakafalealea?”
In response Pāongo said ‘Etuate was responsible for distributing the newspaper to “deviate people.”
“Ko e Lavu pe koe feiga fakaheeki ae kakai lol lolotoga fakataha aahi falealea hu ene tufa kalonikali aana,” Paongo wrote in Tongan.
Tāufa told Kaniva News he was not contacted by the paper to give his side of the story.
‘Etuate was contacted for comment in an e-mail which was copied to Parliamentary Chief Clerk Gloria Pōle’o.
The Parliamentary meeting was held to allow constituents throughout Tonga to talk with their MPs about their parliamentary constituency funding and what they need from their MPs.
As Kaniva News reported last week, the meeting between MP ‘Akosita and Leimātu’a constituents came under the spotlight after the residents complained that questions put to ‘Akosita were answered by ‘Etuate.
‘Etuate denied the accusations and said the people at the meeting were just making fun.
However, our sources were adamant that questions asked of ‘Akosita were serious and they needed her to give the answer.
The main points
- MP Semisi Sika has asked why the Kalonikali newspaper, which has links with Minister of Infrastructure ‘Akosita Lavulavu, was distributed during a Parliamentary meeting in Leimatu’a.
- It has been claimed the paper, which is owned by ousted MP and Cabinet Minister ‘Etuate Lavulavu and husband of ‘Akosita, was distributed as part of the Lavulavu’s political campaign.