Noble MPs did not walk out of Parliament in 2014 when Lord Tu’ivakano’s government moved to remove the powers of Judicial Appointments and Discipline Panel to make elections in the king’s Privy Council.
The Nobles-led government also planned to put an end to the
Panel in the future.
Lord Tu’ivakano’s government also moved to remove the constitutional power of the king to appoint a commissioner for the Anti-Corruption Commission, which was being planned at the time, according to the Parliament’s record (minutes) numbers 21, 22 and 23 on August, 2014.
The government also submitted to the House a Bill to remove
the Attorney General from the king’s Privy Council and bring the position into the
Other noble MPs in the House, including Lord Nuku , Lord
Tu’ilakepa and Lord Tu’iha’ateiho described the move by the government as a
“liliu faka’aufuli,” (absolute change) to the constitution.
They moved in the House for the government to meet the people
and consult with them about the bills. Despite heated debates in the House the Noble’s
motion to take the Bills to the people was rejected after a majority ballot.
The then Minister of Justice, William Clive Edwards in his attempts to clarify the Bill for the Anti-Corruption Commission said this would made the Commission an independent body.
He told the House all the new Bills and amendments which had
been tabled in Parliament were to make sure these were executive roles which had
to be carried out by the government and not the Law Lords in the Panel.
In Tongan he said: “Ko e ngāue faka-executive kā ‘oku ‘ikai
ke ‘ave ia ki he kau Law Lords mo e kakai ‘oku ‘i tu’a ‘oku ‘ikai ke ‘i ai
hanau tu’unga he fonua ke nau tu’utu’uni. Pea ‘osi ko ia pea tau toki lele
holo. Ko e ‘ū ngaahi ‘uhinga ia. Pea nau fai ‘enautolu ‘o ngāue’aki e me’a ki
he ‘Ene ‘Afio ka ‘oku tau’atāina pē ‘a ‘Ene ‘Afio ‘ana.”
This translates into English as: “This is an executive job
and they are supposed not to be given to the Law Lords and people outside who
have no role making decision in this country. After all, we do not know where to go. Those are the
reasons. And they did it using what was there for His majesty, but the His
Majesty was free.”
Hon. Edwards said it had been several years since the
previous government attempted to set up the Anti-Corruption Commission, but
still had not happened.
The then Minister of Police, Siosifa Tu’utafaiva, told the
House these amendments were made after the government received a review report
from a Commonwealth sponsored Constitutional expert who reviewed Tonga’s
According to Hon.
Tu’utafaiva, the then Minister of Law believed there were clashes in the Constitution
clauses and how they gave powers to the Panel to appoint the Attorney General,
the Lord Chancellor, the Judges and Commissioner for Anti-Corruption
According to the Parliament’s minutes the Chair of the Whole Committee said most of the noble MPs supported the Bills and the amendments to the constitution submitted to Parliament.
As Kaniva Tonga news reported last year, the report by Peter Pursglove said Tonga’s constitution was one the poorest in all the Commonwealth countries.
Conflict of interest
He said a conflict of interest existed because the Attorney
General sat on the king’s Judicial Advisory and Discipline Panel, which had the
responsibility of appointing him.
The Attorney General should be a Minister and member of both
the Legislature and the Cabinet, he said.
The Pursglove report was approved by the king and was given
to Lord Tu’ivakano government to work on it.
Homework for the Pōhiva
Hon. Tu’utafaiva told the House, according to the minutes they were running out of time as the next general election was about three months away.
He told the House to expect the rest of the works for the
Bills – including the recommendation by Pursglove – to be dealt with by the incoming
government. Lord Tu’ivakano was ousted by the Pōhiva government in November 2014.
In a previous interview with Kaniva Tonga news, Hon. Pōhiva said his government was working on
the report as it was left in the cabinet by the previous government for them to
The Nobles walk out of
The government of ‘Akilisi Pōhiva undertook to continue
working on the Pursglove report and what had been passed on from the Lord
Some of the recent Bills they submitted to the House
including ones to remove the power of the Panel to elect the Commissioner for
Anti-Corruption Commission and Judges.
They were similar to the Bills submitted by the Tu’ivakano
The Nobles, led by Lord Nuku and Lord Tu’ilakepa, insisted
these Bills should be subject to consultation with the public in face to face
After the government conducted its own radio talk back show
public consultation and disagreed with the Nobles, the noble MPs and the
independent MPs walked out of the House.
Lord Tu’ilakepa became Acting Speaker of the House and used
his power to block the move by the government to table the Bills in the House.
MPs did not walk out of Parliament in 2014 when Lord Tu’ivakano’s government
moved to remove the Judicial Appointments and Discipline Panel from the king’s
Nobles-led government also planned to put an end to the Panel in the future.
Tu’ivakano’s government also moved to remove the constitutional power of the
king to appoint a commissioner for the Anti-Corruption Commission, which was being
planned at the time, according to the Parliament’s record (minutes) number 21
on August 5, 2014.
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Tonga’s constitution costly,
poorly written and undemocratic, report says
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