Ministers were penalised because of bribery, not to make them look foolish, says editor

    The Media Association of Tonga’s (MAOT) mistranslation into Tongan of the word “disgraced” used in a Kaniva News headline is absolutely appalling, says Editor Kalino Lātū.

    Media Association of Tonga. Photo/MAOT (Facebook)

    The Association’s translation of “disgraced” as “fakangalivale’i” in a press release apparently aimed at correcting a story published by Kaniva Tonga News was misleading and offensive,  Lātū said.

    Kaniva’s headline was : “PM keeps disgraced Ministers in their posts; Media Council head tells him blame for public unrest over convictions lies on his shoulders”

    The MAOT translated it as: “Kei tauhi pē ‘e he Palēmiá e kau Minisitā kuo fakangalivale’í ‘i honau ngaahi lakangá; Fakahā ange ‘e he Taki ‘o e Kōsilio ‘a e Mītiá, ‘e hilifaki e hoha’a ‘a e kakai ‘o e fonuá felāve’i mo e tu’utu’uni faka-Fakamaau’angá ‘i hono umá”.

    Fakangalivale’i in Tongan and in the context of the Association’s interpretation, meant the  Ministers were penalised to make them looked foolish. This translation was out of context and totally wrong grammatically.

    Although this was not a mistranslation made by Kaniva News, the point is, it could offend and mislead some readers into believing we lack ethics and used a derogatory word to belittle the convicted ministers. 

    The correct translation of the word “disgraced”  into Tongan as it was used by Kaniva, should be,  “ko e kau minisitā kuo mole honau mafai’ hili hono fakahalaia’i kinautolu.”

    It was an adjective which stood together with the noun ministers.

    The English Oxford Dictionary make it clear as follows:




    1. ​having lost the respect of people, usually meaning you have also lost a position of power
      • a disgraced politician/leader

    This is not the first time Kaniva News has used the word to describe leaders who have lost their power or honour. It is a commonly used word that has appeared in international mainstream media such as the BBC and the New York Times to describe situations like this.

    It was used by BBC last year under the headline “Rob Roberts: Disgraced MP back in Conservative Party on Monday.”

    In February, the New Zealand Herald also ran a story using the word “disgraced” under the heading “Disgraced businessman Ron Brierley’s sentence quashed and eligible for release from prison this month, Australian court orders”

    Both usages by BBC and the Herald were not intended to tell readers that Rob Roberts and Ron Brierley had been made to be looked stupid.

    The Association’s press release this morning in Tongan and in English said it wanted to correct Kaniva Tonga’s news.

    The press release said: “The Media Association of Tonga would like to correct Kaniva Tonga on their news item headlined: PM keeps disgraced Ministers in their posts; Media Council head tells him blame for public unrest over convictions lies on his shoulders.

    The Media Association of Tonga has been in operation for five years now and of which Lady Luseane Vaea Luani is a member”.

    The English version did not clearly say what the Association was trying to correct apart from just saying that Lady Luseane Vaea Luani was a member.

    However, in its Tongan version it said that the Tonga Media Council was replaced by the Media Association of Tonga. It said it has been in operation for five years and its president was Melemanu Fiu Bloomfield.

    “I was shocked to see the Media Association of Tonga makes such an unusual media release to correct an insignificant issue while at the same time the pressing and trending issue was the public outrage at how the Speaker and the Prime Minister handled the order from the Court to unseat the Convicted Ministers”, Lātū said.

    “In fact, Luseane Luani was president of the Tonga Media Council and Kaniva reported this previously.  However, the Association’s press release was the first time for us as one of the Tongan media to be informed of that change and to know that the TMC had been re-branded.

    “The point is, there were pressing issues in the past about which I believed the Media Association should have spoken up to protect journalism but it stayed tight-lipped.

    “This included when the former Prime Minister scolded and belittled a former female journalist at Tonga Broadcasting Commission while she was doing her job to ask questions from the PM. Kaniva News published a story on that”.

    “I hope the Media Association was not politicising this issue and made the press release this morning as  an attack on Kaniva because some journalists in the organisation do not like the way we expose corruption and hold our leaders to account.”

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