Tonga MAFF Minister receiving medical treatment in NZ could lose seat after next month

    Tonga’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (MAFF) Viliami Hingano who is currently receiving medical treatment in New Zealand, could lose his seat in Parliament after next month if he would not return to Tonga.

    Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forests Viliami Manuopangai Hingano

    Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku recently said he visited the Minister during his recent trip to Auckland and Hingano was receiving medical assistance. He said the Minister was in a good condition. We understand Hingano was initially in a serious condition.

    Hu’akavameiliku also said work was underway to extend Hingano’s medical leave periods.

    The Minister has been away from Parliament for five months now. He was still receiving full salary and allowances as well as money from government for his medical costs, according to the law.

    Leave entitlements

    The law allows MPs to be absent from the Legislative Assembly for no more than three consecutive months if they had permission from the Speaker.

    After the three months, they can apply for another three consecutive months but “the Legislative Assembly may not permit the member to be absent for any period exceeding 6 consecutive months.”

    As Kaniva News reported previously,  Hingano flew to New Zealand in December for medical tests after the Vaiola hospital’s computerised tomography (CT) scanner stopped working, the Minister of Health told us at the time.

    The former government approved his travel last year in his capacity as the Ha’apai governor but his flight to New Zealand was repeatedly postponed by Tonga’s volcanic eruptions which started in December.

    Hingano’s situation was another blow to Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku’s leadership after three of his Cabinet Ministers’ election were disqualified by the Supreme Court for electoral fraud.

    The Minsters were supposed to be unseated by Parliament on Monday 16 but it had been postponed due to a request from the Prime Minister citing works on the Budget.

    One of these Cabinet Ministers, Tatafu Moeaki, who is the Minister for Finance received an approval from the Supreme Court yesterday, Friday 20 to remain in his seat until an appeal of his conviction was heard.

    The two other convicted Ministers, Sangster Saulala and Deputy Prime Minister Poasi Tei did not apply to stay the execution of their conviction, reports said.

    Parliament’s absence law


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