The Prime Minister’s Office issued a press release today which said our story of January 20, 2021 headed ‘PM asks Parliament to pardon Tapueluelu for claims gov’t members drank alcohol at a barbecue after launching national fasting and prayer service,’ was misleading.
The press release in Tongan claimed that what we reported was not the reason the Prime Minister forgave Tongatapu 4 MP Mateni Tapueluelu in Parliament.
It said the reason why the PM forgave Hon. Tapueluelu because he showed contempt for the Hon Tu’ionetoa by saying he and his government’s mischievous way of fasting would bring curse on the country. It said Prime Minister Pohiva Tuionetoa did not drink alcohol. it also quotes some biblical scripts to support the Prime Minister’s forgiveness.
Kaniva News stands by its article.
The press release said:
“Correction to Kaniva and Kalino Latu, in regard to the article pardon of Mateni Tapueluelu by the Prime Minister, Rev. Dr. Pohiva Tu’ionetoa.”
“It is untrue and misleading for Mateni Tapueluelu and Kalino Latu to say the Prime Minister pardoned Tapueluelu after the Parliament approved submission to penalise Tapueluelu for contempt of the Prime Minister, because after the marking of the beginning of the fasting they went and drank alcohol and had a barbecue. The Prime Minister does not drink alcohol like Mateni Tapueluelu.”
It said Lord Nuku lodged a complaint against Mateni Tapueluelu for contempt of the Prime Minister on October 13, 2020 which said: “Hon. Prime Minister you know, among the mischief you and your Cabinet are doing in this country, this is the worst mischief you have done. You have conducted the fasting in a mischievous way and it will bring a curse on this country. Stop that programme because it is bad. The tour was a political campaign.”
The Press Release also said: “There was nothing said during the debate on October 13, 2020 which showed that Mateni argued that the Prime Minister prayed mischievously because he drank alcohol after the marking of the beginning of the fasting. The Prime Minister’s Office believed this statement may have been a case for another complaint by Lord Nuku against Mateni Tapueluelu if he made such statement on October 13, 2020.”
Kaniva News editor Kalino Latu said this evening the Prime Minister’s press release was misleading.
“We did not say that Hon. Tapueluelu mentioned the barbecue and drinking alcohol by government staff members in Parliament on October 13, 2020,” Latu said.
“What we said was: Hon. Tapueluelu mentioned the barbecue and drinking alcohol by government staff members in Parliament while he was responding to the Minister of Finance (during the debate on January 13, 2021.)
The first time for us to have reported the accusation was on January 20, 2021.
“In our January 20 article in question, this was a reference to this paragraph: ‘The Committee returned to the House last week with its findings and said Hon. Tapueluelu’s statement breached the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Assembly regulation 108 and the constitution clause 70.”
“We said “last week” meant January 13, 2021,” not October 13, 2020.
“Neither did we say Hon.Tapueluelu accused the Prime Minister in particular of drinking alcohol as the press Release said.”
The alcohol and barbeque accusation
Latu said that according to the Parliamentary record in page 36 of Hansard for January 13, 2021, Tapueluelu told the Minister of Finance he was concerned that after they marked the beginning of the fasting with prayers (“fakama’u ‘a e ‘aukai”) they left and drank alcohol and had a barbecue. “What would you call that? Lord Speaker that’s the reason for my concern,” Hon. Tapueluelu questioned Hon. Lavemaau.
In Tongan, Hon. Tapueluelu said: ” Ka fakama’u ‘a e ‘aukaí pea ‘osi pē pea mātuku atu ‘o inu mo papakiu lau ia ko e hā? ko e ‘uhinga ia Sea ‘oku fai ai e tokanga”.
Hon. Lavemaau did not deny it, or answer the MP’s question. Instead, he just repeated Hon. Tapueluelu’s question by saying: “What would you call that?” (“Te ke toe ui ‘e koe e me’a ko iá ko e hā?”)
Neither the government benches nor the Committee denied or corrected the accusation made by Hon. Tapueluelu. Instead, they focused their debates on the importance of fasting and prayer services to the nation
Latu said that because the Standing Committee did not release Hon. Tapueluelu’s response to Lord Nuku’s complaint, which the Member for Tongatapu 4 submitted to the Standing Committee and no one in Parliament from the nobility or government benches corrected Hon. Tapueluelu’s response to Finance Minister, Kaniva News had every reason to believe that Hon. Tapueluelu’s statement to the Minister of Finance was the motive behind Tapu’eluelu’s “mischief” accusation.
Latu said there was no explanation for why nobody from the government tried to correct the accusation.
After Tapueluelu’s alcohol accusation the Finance Minster and other members of the Cabinet, the Nobility as well as the Democrats spoke to the House before the Prime Minister rose and asked Parliament to forgive Tapueluelu for his “mischief” accusation.
Kuo faka’ikai’i mai ‘e he ‘Ōfisi Palēmia’ mo pehē ne taki hala e ongoongo ‘a e Kaniva’ ne fa’u ‘e he ‘Ētita’, Kalino Lātū ‘o pehē ne ‘i ai hono tukuaki’i ‘e Māteni Tapueluelu ‘a e pule’anga’ ki he ma’u kava mālohi mo e papakiu hili ‘enau fakama’u ‘aukai’. Pea ko e makatu’unga ‘eni hono fakamolemole’i ‘e he Palēmia’ ‘a Tapueluelu ‘i Sanuali ‘aho 13, 2021. ‘I he faka’ikai ‘a e ‘Ōfisi Palēmia’ ne nau pehē ne ‘ikai ha lea ia ‘a Tapueluelu ‘i Fale Alea he ‘aho 13 ‘o ‘Okatopa 2020 ‘o pehē ne hili pe hono fakama’u e ‘aukai’ pea hoko atu e palēmia’ mo e pule’anga’ ‘o papakiu mo ma’u kava mālohi pea ‘oku ‘ikai inu ‘a e Palēmia ia. Ko hono mo’oni na’e te’eki lipooti atu ‘e he Kaniva’ ia ne ‘i ai ha lea pehē ‘a Tapueluelu ‘i he ‘aho 13 ‘Okatopa 2020. Ko e lea ko ia’ fakatatau ki he’emau lipōti’ ne fai ia ‘i he ‘aho 13 ‘o Sanuali 2021 pea ‘oku ma’u pe ia ‘i he miniti ‘a e Fale’ ‘aho 13 Sanuali 2021 peesi 36. Ne te’eki ai foki ha lipooti ia ‘a e Kaniva’ ‘o pehē ne tukuaki’i fakahangatonu ‘e Tapueluelu ‘a e sino toko taha pe ‘o e Palēmia ko ha taha ma’u kava mālohi. Ko e lipooti ‘a e Kaniva’ ne fakalea ko e tukuaki’i ‘a Tapueluelu’ ne fai fakalukufua pe ki he palēmia’ mo e pule’anga fakakātoa ‘aki e pehē ne nau pau’u lotu. Ne ‘osi fakamahino he lipooti’ ni ko e tukuaki’i pau’u lotu ne fai ‘e Tapueluelu ko ia’ ne fai ia ‘i he ‘aho 13 ‘o ‘Okatopa 2020 ‘o tu’unga ai hono faka’ilo ‘e Looti Nuku ki he anga ta’efaka’apa’apa’. Ko e lea ‘a Tapueluelu, fakatatau ki he lipooti ‘a e Kaniva’ na’e fai ia ki he Minisitā Pa’anga’ ‘i he ‘aho 13 Sanuali 2021 lolotonga ‘ena tālanga mo taukave ‘a e Minisitaa’ ni tokua ne ‘ikai ha pau’u lotu. Pea tō ai e lea ‘a Māteni ‘o peheni, pea ko e uho ia e lipooti ‘a e Kaniva’ pea ne ‘asi he miniti – “Ka fakama’u ‘a e ‘aukaí pea ‘osi pē pea mātuku atu ‘o inu mo papakiu lau ia ko e hā? ko e ‘uhinga ia Sea ‘oku fai ai e tokanga,” ko e lau ia ‘a Tapueluelu. Na’e ‘ikai ha toe taha ia te ne faka’ikai’i ‘a e lau ko ia a’u pe ki he Minisitā Pa’anga ne ‘ikai ha’ane toe tali pe fakatonutonu ‘a Tapueluelu ka ne toe tali mai pe ia kia Tapueluelu ‘o lea’aki pe fehu’i ne fai atu ‘o pehē – “Te ke toe ui ‘e koe e me’a ko iá ko e hā?” Ko e taimi ne me’a hake ai ‘a e ‘Eiki Palēmia ‘o fokotu’u ke fakamolemole’i ‘a Tapueluelu na’e ‘ikai ke ne fakatonutonu ‘e ia ‘a e kupu’i lea ko ‘eni ‘a Tapueluelu. Na’e ‘ikai foki tuku ange mai ‘e he Kōmiti Tu’uma’u ia ‘a e tali ‘a Tapueluelu ki hono lāunga’i ia ke lau ‘i Fale Alea’. Pea koe’uhī ne ‘ikai faka’ikai’i ‘e taha ia ‘a tukuaki’i ‘a Tapueluelu lolotonga ‘a hono tālanga’i he Fale’ hono lāunga’i’, ‘oku ‘i ai e totonu ta’etoefehu’ia ia ‘a e Kaniva’ ke ne pehē ko e ‘uhinga ‘eni hono tukuaki’i ‘e Tapueluelu ne pau’u lotu e Palēmia’ mo hono pule’anga’ ko e inu mo e papakiu lolotonga ko ‘enau me’a ‘oku tu’uaki ki he fonua’ ko e lotu ‘aukai. Ne ‘ikai ha toe fakamatala ia ke fakamahino ko e hā ne tuku ta’efakatonutonu ai pe lau mo tukuaki’i mamafa ‘a Tapueluelu ko ‘eni’.