Prime Minister criticised for lifting curfew on wharf project in last few days before election

    The Prime Minister had been criticised for allowing work on a new wharf to continue during curfew a few days before the elections.

    Photos of government workers repairing roads in the Prime Minister’s Lapaha electorate this morning. Photos / Supplied

    The launch of the new wharf in the Prime Minister’s Afā electorate was celebrated on Friday last week.

    Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa made the revelation on Saturday night during his official Facebook livestream with Radio FM 87.5.

    He said the Ports of Authority workers worked day and night before they completed the wharf.

    “I asked the Minister of Police to exclude them from the curfew,” the Prime Minister said in Tongan.

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    The Prime Minister was responding to allegations made on a Facebook livestream report by  the PTOA Party’s social media reporter, ‘Asiata Māsima, who goes by the Facebook name Fakafehi Lola.

    He said Māsima  alleged that Afā  and its overseas residents had complained that  the wharf was launched unfinished because the government knew they would be rewarded with Tongan goods and seafood during the celebration. The Prime Minister denied this.

    Māsima told Kaniva News he got the information from Afā residents.

    He said the timing of the launch just a few days before the election showed the Prime Minister was doing everything he can do to make sure he did not lose his seat.

    The Prime Minister’s actions in his electorate, where his rival candidates did not have the same benefit of being able to cite governments development  projects, was criticised by veteran journalist and media commentator Kalafi Moala as bullying.

    Moala compared the situation to the battle of David and Goliath in the Holy Bible.

    The revelation of the selective lifting of the curfew came after Tongan Police arrested  124 people for breaching restrictions and curfews during Tongatapu’s one-week lockdown. This included 36 people who gathered at kava sessions

    There were also reports of police closing down street markets during the lockdown.

    In April 2020 Tonga Police arrested 568 people for breaking the night curfew after the kingdom’s state of emergency was declared in March.

    Of those arrested, 357 had allegedly breached the lockdown rules or obstructed officers.

    Meanwhile, the Tu’i’onetoa government is being criticised for unfairly wooing  voters after workers with truckloads of rocks and tar were spotted this morning sealing roads in his Lapaha electorate.

    Tongatapu 7 Candidate for the PTOA Party, Piveni Piukala, said the government should act as a caretaker at this state and should not be seen working on these projects in their constituencies.

    Piukala said it appeared there was a legal issue.

    Reports of government ministers distributing water tanks and renewing water supplies in their constituencies, including one in Tongatapu 6, was also criticised for being scheduled in the days before the elections

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