ANALYSIS: Tonga in search for viable, credible PM; the best of best has yet to come

    In the latest twist in the premiership election this week three serious candidates are now vying for the attention of the newly elected MPs.

    Dr ‘Aisake Eke. Photo/Tonga Broadcasting Commission (Facebook)

    We can now reveal that Dr ‘Aisake Valu Eke is the third candidate who was picked by the third group of MPs on Friday.

    The other two candidates are the interim Prime Minister Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa and his Interim Minister of Education Siaosi Sovaleni.

    It appears that Sovaleni currently got the highest number of supports from the MPs which was eight (8), Dr Eke seven (7) and Dr Tu’i’onetoa only has the support of one MP including him making it two (2), an anonymous newly elected MP told Kaniva News. The source said it can be that some MPs could switch allegiance and join the other groups this week.

    Unworkable system of democracy

    Tonga’s unworkable system of democracy has been proven to fail to provide a fixed political apparatus that can allow a people’s majority rule to elect the Prime Minister. This time the election of the Prime Minister will definitely have to rely on the common sense and the discretion of all the MPs.

    However, this means that the growing consensus to elect the best Prime Minister could be jeopardised by the MPs’ personal interests and allegiances.

    Given the situation, the simplest way to choose the best candidate is not to vote for somebody who has done or been accused of doing anything wrong.

    Dr Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa. Photo/Kalino Lātū (Kaniva Tonga)

    Dr ‘Aisake Eke

    Dr Eke’s arrival comes as a surprise to many, especially the fact he was supported by three of the MPs who held Doctorates of Philosophy in various academic fields. Discontent with his leadership has been swirling  within the public recently.  The former Minister of Finance’s involvement with jailed government minister Akosita Lavulavu and her husband ‘Etuate Lavulavu has tainted his record.

    The presiding judge in the Lavulavu case said Dr Eke “was not desirous for the truth” and could not produce any evidence of what he was saying in court in support of the Lavulavus. Although Dr Eke responded publicly and denied what the judge had said his denial backfired against him with the Tonga Law Society accusing him of a possible contempt of court. The decent thing for Dr Eke to do is to appeal the judge’s comment through a preservation of his record application.

    Dr Eke agreed  with Forbe’s magazine on 13 February 2015 to pay for the then Prime  Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s interview with the publication. He was later accused of failing to inform the Prime Minister that the government had to pay US$130,000  after the Prime Minister was interviewed on February 11, 2015.

    He was also accused of failing to comply with the Cabinet’s rule of collective decision when he abstained from the vote of no confidence against ‘Akilisi Pohiva, leading to his forced resignation in 2017.  His Doctor of Philosophy which was based on his thesis “An exploratory study on the quality of service in the public sector in Tonga” was awarded by the University of Southern Queensland in 2013.

    Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa

    The Doctor of Ministry of Christianity was notorious for his development policies which have been described as being designed to mostly benefit his and Cabinet Ministers’ constituencies. He has been accused of repeatedly misleading the public and using of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ money for his failed national fasting and prayer programme to protect Tonga from Covid pandemic. 

    Minister of Education, Siaosi Sovaleni. Photo/Facebook

    The Fellow of the Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Australia, and former Tonga Auditor General has been accused of abusing the media and  Opposition MPs, awarding of government multi-millions contracts to companies with strong government and close family ties as well as refusing for months to deal with his jailed Cabinet Minister Akosita Lavulavu. 

    Siaosi Sovaleni

    The former dux of Tonga’s top High School, Tonga High School and Masters degree at Oxford and an MBA at the University of the South Pacific awardee was dismissed, along with former Minister of Finance Tevita Lavemaau, in 2017.

    The then Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva was disappointed with the duo after they were allegedly involved in a conspiracy which led to King Tupou VI’s decision to dissolve Parliament and order a fresh general election that November.

    However, Lord Tu’ivakanō who advised the king to dissolve the House,  denied that Sovaleni and Lavemaau knew in advance about the plan to dismiss Parliament.

    Before their dismissal, Sovaleni and Lavemaau proposed to the Cabinet that TOP$60,000 be allocated to help fund the preparations for the opening ceremony of the St George Palace in 2017. The Cabinet declined the proposal but Lavemaau went ahead and instead of approving $60,000 he approved $80,000.

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