Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa has denied claims the Royal Commission report on Popua Park probe was submitted to him and it disappeared from his desk.
The highly anticipated report was intended to inform the king after an investigating into how the late ‘Akilisi Pōhiva government’s funding of the recreational park project was spent.
The Prime Minister was responding after New Zealand-Tongan based barrister Nalesoni Tupou claimed the report went missing from Tu’i’noetoa’s desk (“ka’iloa ai e lipooti mei he tepile ‘a e Palēmia”)
Tupou claimed the report has yet to be presented to the king.
Tupou alleged on Facebook the report was completed and submitted to the Prime Minister on June 2020. He also claimed the report was hidden. He “swears” that his allegations were true. He said he would release a copy of the report. Kaniva News contacted him regarding his allegations.
Tu’i’onetoa, who had been previously accused of not telling the truth to the media told VPON media today he did not know anything about the report.
He said any questions about it should be directed “to the right place,” apparently, to the Royal Commission.
The Popua Park project
The project allowed the late ‘Akilisi Pōhiva government to redevelop the 10-acre swampy site initiated by ‘Akilisi in 2015.
It included a plan for a golf course which was initiated by late King Tupou IV but was not implemented before he died.
The project was intended to provide a sustainable, clean environment in the area after closing down the Popua landfill, provide a new national recreational park and save and upgrade the traditional pigeon mounts which had significant historical values.
An independent report by the Pacific Engineering Consultant Group (PECG) showed the former government has spent only TOP$648,000 on the project.
“It is evident there is savings,” the report said.
The ‘Akilisi government said it saved $2 million in the project.
The PECG report was conducted on June 2018 by three experts including Civil Engineer Sevenitini Toumoua, Suliasi Havea and Semisi Fifita.
What had been seen as a good initiative for the community and the country as a whole turned into a battlefield for politicians especially ‘Akilisi’s supporters and their critics.
In March 2019 King Tupou VI ordered three petitions attacking the ‘Akilisi’s government to be referred to the Ombudsman. Some of these petitions, submitted by ‘Akilisi’s long standing opponents, raised concerns about the project.
The Tui’onetoa government said in 2019 a royal commission led by former Justice Charles Cato was investigating how the late ‘Akilisi government’s funding of the recreational park project was spent.
It has been two years now the report continues to go unheard.
‘Akilisi’s supporters believed the PECG report was enough to clear any doubt about the Popua park project spending.
They said the decision by the king to spend a lot of money in setting up the royal commission could outweigh the spending on the park project.
Kuo ‘i ai ‘eni ha tukuaki’i kuo puli e lipooti ia ki hono fakatotolo’i e fakamole ki hono langa ‘o e Paaka Popua’ mei he tesi ‘o e Palēmia’. Kuo pehē ne ‘osi maau atu ki he tesi ‘o Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa’ ‘a e lipooti’ ni ‘i Sune 2020. Pehē ‘e he tukuaki’i’ ‘oku te’eki a’u e lipooti ia ki he tu’i. Kuo faka’ikai’i ‘e he palēmia’ ha’ane ‘ilo pe kaunga ki he lipooti’ ni. Ko e fakatotolo ‘eni ne kamata he 2019 ‘e ha komisioni fakatu’i ne tataki ‘e he fakamaau lahi ko Charles Cato mo ha ni’ihi loea. Ko e fakamole lahi ki he Komisoni ni ‘oku ‘i ai e tui ne totongi mei he pa’anga tukuhau ‘a e kakai’. Ko e lipooti ‘eni ‘oku ‘i ai e nofo ‘amanaki ki ai ‘a e kakai’ ka kuo te’eki ongonga mai. Ko e tukuaki’i ‘eni mei he loea Tonga ‘i Nu’u Sila ko Loea Nalesoni Tupou. Ka kuo faka’ikai’i ‘eni ia ‘e he PM ki he mitia Tonga’ ‘o pehe hala ha’ane ‘ilo pe kaunga ‘e taha ki he lipooti’ ni. Na’a’ ne pehē ke ‘eke ha fehu’i kau ki ai ki he feitu’u totonu ‘a ia mahino ko ‘ene ‘uhinga ki he komisoni’. Ko e Palēmia’ ni foki kuo lahi hono tukuaki’i ki he’ene ngaahi fakamatala ‘ikai mo’oni kuo ‘omi ki he mitia’ mo ‘ene feinga ke takihala’i ‘a e papiliki’ ‘aki a e ngaahi fakamatala hala, tautefito ki he keisi ko ia ‘a e ongo Lavulavu mo e ngaahi ‘isiu kehe pe.