A Tongan journalist hopes that when royal assent is given for the Internet Abuse Offences legislation it will allow her to be free of the distress she claims is the result of cyber-bullying by the Prime Minister.
Ms Salamo Fulivai, a former Chief Reporter at Tonga Broadcasting Commission, claimed Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa harassed, abused and bullied her on the internet several times when she tried to question him about stories she was working on.
She hopes to use the new legislation to take the Prime Minister to court.
Fulivai sent a number of questions to the Prime Minister last year in her capacity as a reporter for the Kele’a Newspaper.
She claimed that instead of focusing on the issues being raised, the Prime Minister belittled and ridiculed her.
Fulivai e-meailed questions to Hon Tu’i’onetoa including one which asked the Prime Minister whether it was true the government was starting its own new airline and if he can tell her about the motive behind the move.
An e-mail from Hon. Tu’i’onetoa to Fulivai seen by Kaniva News says: “Stop being nonsense and making questions that were meaningless, your questions showed you were a repeated class six failer. It wasted my time to answer such meaningless questions.”
Fulivai responded to the Prime Minister, saying: “A repeated class six failer level could be shown by the language one used to speak to somebody.”
“It should have been easy for you to answer me by saying yes or no. But for you to sidestep it and used such language your state of mind and the environment in which you have been brought up will then be called into question.”
“Thank you, pastor,” Fulivai said, referring to the Prime Minister’s religious background, which includes a Doctorate of Christian Ministry from Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary in the United States.
The e-mails between Fulivai and the Prime Minister went back to November 2019.
In another email on May 2020 Hon Tu’i’onetoa said: “Salamo, do you think that all I do is answer questions with nothing else to do. Stop your nonsense!”
“Where did you do your training as a reporter?”
Fulivai told Kaniva News she found it difficult to do her job because of her situation.
“I am grateful and elated that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet have passed this law so that the voice of victims of cyber bullying could be heard,” Fulivai said.
“The fact is I did not know Tu’i’onetoa before. I just came to know him when he was the Prime Minister.
“The language he has used showed he looked down on me.
“It’s discouraging and offensive and it greatly affected me.”
While Fulivai hopes the Internet Abuse Offences legislation will give her legal redress against the Prime Minister, any legal action on her part will have to wait until the new law actually comes into effect.
As Kaniva News reported yesterday, the Internet Abuse Offences legislation was passed by Parliament last year, but is still waiting for the king’s signature.
Hon Tu’i’onetoa told us last year the new law was aimed at addressing the use of any communication platform to abuse, harass or otherwise harm another person.
Kaniva News has contacted the Prime Minister for comment.
‘Oku ‘ikai kei fa’a tatali ‘a e faiongongo ko Salamo Fulivai ke fai mo paasi mei he Tu’i’ ‘a e lao ‘a Tonga ke tapui hono pā’osi’i ‘o ha taha ‘o ngāue’aki ‘a e ‘initaneti’. Ko e lao ‘eni ne ‘osi paasi ‘i Fale Alea he ta’u kuo ‘osi’ ka kuo kei tatali ki ha fakamo’oni huafa a e Tama Tu’i’. ‘Oku tukuaki’i ‘e Fulivai ne fakamamahi’i ia ‘e he ‘Eiki Palēmia’ Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa mo lea tukuhifo’i he ‘initaneti ‘i ha’ane tali ki ha ngaahi fehu’i ne ne ‘eke ki ai tu’unga ‘i hono fatongia fakafaiongoongo’. Pehē ‘e Fulivai, ne ‘īmeili atu pea ‘ikai tali mai ‘e Tu’i’onetoa ia ‘ene ngaahi fehu’i kae hanga mai ia ‘o ngāhi’i mo fakama’ama’a’i ia hangē ko ‘ene tala ko ngaahi fehu’i ne ‘oange ‘oku ‘asi ko e tokotaha kalasi ono tu’olahi ia. ‘Eke pe na’e ako faiongoongo ‘i fē. Ne toe tala ‘e he palēmia’ foki ‘oku maumau taimi ‘ene fehu’i’. Kaekehe, ne toki paasi e lao ‘a e pule’anga’ ko ‘eni’ ‘i ‘Okatopa. Fakahā ‘e Fulivai ki he Kaniva’ ‘oku uesia lahi ‘ene ngāue pea pupuiva he me’a ne hoko’ ka kuo’ ne fiefia mo fakamālō kia Tu’i’onetoa he’ene fa’u mo fakapaasi ‘a e lao’ ni kae lava ke ‘eke’i ai ‘ene totonu’ he fakamaau’anga’.