Pōhiva denies claims of nepotism, says ministers have vowed to put sexual misdeeds behind them

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Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pōhiva who denies claims of nepotism, says ministers have vowed to put sexual misdeeds behind them

Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva has denied claims of nepotism made by failed political rival ‘Eliesa Fifita.

Fifita claimed Hon Pōhiva was guilty of giving special privileges to a member of his family by appointing his son, Siosiua Po‘oi Pōhiva, as his personal assistant without advertising the post publicly.

Fifita stood unsuccessfully against the Prime Minister for the Tongatapu 1 constituency in the last election.

In a letter which was copied to Kaniva News, Fifita also claimed that Hon Pōhiva had ignored sexual improprieties committed by two of his ministers.

We were unable to obtain a response from the Prime Minister in time for publication.

However, Hon Pōhiva told  Radio FM89.5 that he recruited his son as his personal assistant because he trusted him.

He said Poʻoi was not paid the government salary allocated for the post, but was instead paid directly from his Prime Ministerial salary.

He said Treasury had been informed of the arrangement.

Hon Pōhiva said this would save taxpayers’ money, in line with his policy of wise management of the country’s finances.

Fifita claimed the Prime Minister had selected an MP to join his cabinet even though he was aware of allegations that he had been involved in extra-marital affairs.

The failed politician claimed that the minister had fathered three illegitimate children.

He said Hon Pōhiva’s actions went against the principles of transparency, morality and honesty he had championed while he was a fierce critic of the former governments.

Transparent

In his letter to Kaniva News, Fifita said the Prime Minister had said that application for posts must be transparent. He said Hon Pōhiva had proposed that government posts must not be selected in such a way that people appeared to have been chosen because of nepotism and favouritism.

Hon Pōhiva has been a long time critic of what he described as unfair distribution of the country’s opportunities and wealth among the Royal Family.

He criticised the late King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV for allowing his daughter Princess Pilolevu to run her own business using Tonga’s satellite slots, saying it was unconstitutional.

The Tongan constitution says: “The King shall govern on behalf of all his people and not so as to enrich or benefit any one man or any one family or any one class, but without partiality for the good of all the people of his Kingdom.”

The Prime Minister responded to allegations about the appointment of his ministers by saying that he had no option but to choose from a small number of politicians who held the balance of power.

The Prime Minister told Radio FM 89.5 that  the most important thing for him was to use people who had been scrutinised and elected by the people.

Hon Pōhiva said the ministers had vowed to leave what had happened behind them and do their best to build the nation while they were in the new government.

In the post-election period there was a strong push from Hon Pōhiva’s supporters to engage in horse trading with the independent politicians so the Democratic Party could form the best government for the people.

One week before the premiership election on  December, 29, 2014, Hon Pōhiva  said he had held various secret meetings with some of the independents to try to persuade them to join his government.

“They must be given whatever ministerial posts they want so that we would form a democratically elected government,” he told Kaniva News.

Conflict

Fifita’s letter has been hotly debated on social media, with Hon Pōhiva’s  selection of his son as his personal assistant secretary the most discussed topic.

Critics said it was a conflict of interest that did not reflect well on his government.

Olivia Ve’etutu T said: “PM does not look good with it in the international level after all those numerous years of calling for good governance!”

Arthur Fonua said: “…the appointment of his own son does not enhance or strengthen his own foundational vision of inclusion…not well thought out from a democratic perspective and metric”.

Senolita Swan commented: “What a shame…Do what you preach… I had such a high hope for this PM.”

However, the Prime Minister’s supporters rallied around.

Sione Talanoa Fifita  commented in Tongan on the Democracy for Tonga Facebook page that Hon Pōhiva had not committed nepotism because his son was paid from the Prime Minister’s salary.

Maggie Tupou said: “The way I see it, there is no conflict of interest as his son’s wages are paid out of the PM’s pocket. It is normal for people to hand pick their own personal assistants.”

lex Tora said:  “Interesting indeed….my one cent contribution – PMs the world over pick their own personal assistants and pay for them from their own pay packets….if that is what PM Pōhiva has done then I do not see any problem with that — I think he is worried about having someone who will not be able to do the job as he wants it done — making it happen so to speak — so he has gone for his son because he may trust his son more to be able to perform than those who have been sitting there for some time….interesting indeed….”

The main points

  • Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva has denied claims of nepotism made by failed political rival ‘Eliesa Fifita.
  • Fifita claimed Hon Pōhiva was guilty of giving special privileges to a member of his family by appointing his son as his personal assistant.
  • Fifita also claimed Hon Pōhiva had ignored sexual improprieties committed by two of his ministers.
  • The Prime Minister has denied allegations of nepotism.

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  1. Fakaʻikaiʻi ʻe he Palēmiá, ʻAkilisi Pōhiva ʻa e tukuakiʻi ʻokú ne filifilimānako mo fakafāmiliʻi e tufa lakangá, mo ne pehē kuo tukupā ʻene kau minisitaá ke tuku ki mui ʻenau ngaahi tōʻonga feʻauakí.

    Kuo fakaʻikaiʻi ʻe he Palēmia ʻo Tongá ʻAkilisi Pōhiva ʻa e ngaahi tukuakiʻi ʻa e tokotaha ko ʻEliesa Fifita ne na feʻauhi he filí ka ne tō ia, ki he tufa lakanga filifilimānako mo fakafāmiliʻi.

    ʻOku pehē ʻe Fifita ʻoku halaia ʻa ʻOnopolo Pōhiva ko ʻene ʻoange ʻa e faingamālie makehe ki hono fāmilí ʻaki hono fakanofo ʻa hono foha ko Siosiua Poʻoi Pōhiva ko ʻene sekelitali tokoni taautaha taʻe tuʻuaki ʻa e lakangá ki he kakaí.

    Naʻe ʻikai ola e fili ʻa Fifita mei Tongatapu 1 ʻa ia ne na feʻauhi mo e Palēmiá ʻi he fili ne toki ʻosí.
    ʻI ha tohi ne ʻomi hono tatau ki he Ongoongo ʻa e Kanivá, ne pehē ai ʻe Fifita naʻe fakahangahanga kehe ʻa ʻOnapolo Pōhiva mei he pehē ne ʻi ai ʻa e minisitā ʻi he taha ʻo e ngaahi potungāue ʻa e puleʻangá ne ne ʻilo pe ia ʻoku ne fakahoko e tōʻonga ʻikai taau mo ha fefine. Ko e minisitā ko ʻeni ʻoku ʻi ai ʻena fānau mo e taha ʻoku ngāue pe ʻi he ngāueʻanga ko ʻení ka ʻoku teʻeki ke na mali.
    Naʻe ʻikai lava ke mau maʻu ha tali mei he Palēmiá he taimi ne pau ai ke paaki ʻa e ongoongó ni.
    Neongo iá ne fakahā ʻe Pōhiva ki he Letiō Tonga FM 88.5 naʻá ne fakahū hono fohá ke hoko ko ʻene sekelitali fakataau taha koeʻuhī he ʻokú ne falala ki ai.
    Naʻá meʻa ʻo pehē ʻoku ʻikai ke vahe ʻa Poʻoi ia mei he vahenga ʻoku totonu ke totongi atu ʻe he puleʻangá ki he ngaahi lakanga peheé, ka ʻoku toʻo hangatonu pe vahe ia ʻa Poʻoí mei hono vāhenga fakapalēmiá.
    Naʻá ne toe meʻa ʻo pehē kuo ʻosi fakahā ki Fale Paʻanga ʻa ʻene fokotuʻutuʻu ko ia ki he vahe ʻa Poʻoi.
    Naʻá ne meʻa ʻo pehē ʻe haofaki heni e paʻanga ʻa e kau totongi tukuhaú ʻo hoa pe ia mo ʻene polisī ki hono tuhani fakapotopoto e meʻa fakapaʻanga ʻa e fonuá.
    ʻOku tukuakiʻi ʻe Fifita ʻa e Palēmiá ki heʻene fili ha Mēmipa Fale Alea ke hoko ko e minisitā ʻo e kapinetí ka ʻoku ne ʻosi meaʻi lelei pe ki he ngaahi tukuakiʻi ia ki ai fekauʻaki mo ha fefine.
    ʻOku tukuakiʻi ʻe he tokotaha politiki ko ʻení ne tō he fili kuo ʻosí kuo fepaki e meʻa ne tuʻuaki ʻe Pōhivá mo e ngaahi tefitoʻi moʻoni ʻo e ʻata-ki-tuʻa ʻo e faifatongiá, ʻulungāanga lelei mo e faitotonu ne ne tuʻuaki lolotonga ʻene hoko ko e tokotaha fakaanga fefeka ʻo e ngaahi puleʻanga ki muʻá.
    ʻAta-ki-tuʻa ʻa e faifatongiá:
    ʻI heʻene tohi ki he Ongoongo ʻa e Kanivá, naʻe pehē ʻe Fifita ko e ngaahi taukave fakakaukau ia ʻa Pōhivá ko e ngaahi lakanga ʻa e puleʻangá kuopau ke ʻoua naʻa fili ʻi ha founga ʻe hā mai ai naʻe fai e filí ʻo makatuʻunga he kāinga pe filifilimānako.
    Ne hoko foki ʻa Pōhiva ko e taha fakaanga fuoloa ia ki he meʻa ne ne fakamatalaʻi ʻo pehē ko e ʻikai taau hono vahe ʻe he Fale ʻo e Tuʻí e ngaahi faingamālie mo e koloa ʻa e fonuá.
    Naʻá ne fakaangaʻi e Tuʻi kuo ungafonuá Taufaʻāhau Tupou IV ki heʻene fakangofua hono ʻalo ko Pilinisesi Pilolevú ke fakalele ʻene pisinisi ʻo fakaʻaongaʻi ʻaki e ngaahi tuʻuʻanga satelaite ʻa Tonga ʻi he vavaá ʻo ne pehē ʻoku taʻe fakakonisitūtone ia.
    Ne ʻuhinga ʻa Pōhiva he ko e konisitūtoné ʻokú ne pehē: ‘E fai ‘e he Tu’i ‘ene pulé koe’uhí ko hono kakai kotoa pea ‘e ‘ikai fai ko e me’a ke koloa’ia pe lelei’ia ha toko taha pe ha fāmili pe ha fa’ahinga ‘e taha tae filifilimānako ka koe’uhī ke lelei mo monū’ia ‘a e kakai kotoa pe ‘o hono Pule’angá.
    Ko e tali ʻeni ʻa e Palēmiá ki he ngaahi tukuakiʻi kau ki he fakanofo lakanga ʻene kau minisitaá ʻo ne pehē ne ʻikai ha toe meʻa ke fili mei ai ka ko e niʻihi tokosiʻi pe ko ʻeni e kau politiki tauʻatāiná ne ʻia kinautolu e mafai ke faʻu ha puleʻangá.
    Naʻe meʻa ʻa e Palēmiá o pehē ko e meʻa mahuʻinga taha kiate iá ke fakaʻaongaʻi e kakai ne ʻosi sivisiviʻi mo fili ʻe he kakaí.
    Naʻe meʻa ʻa e palēmiá ʻo pehē kuo tukupā ʻene kau minisitā kuo tukuakiʻí ke tuku ki mui honau kuohilí kae fai honau lelei tahá ke langa ʻa e fonuá lolotonga ʻa e taimi ko ʻeni kuo nau ʻi he puleʻana foʻoú aí.
    ʻI he fili ko ʻeni ne toki ʻosí naʻe ʻi ai ha teke mālohi mei he kau poupou ʻo Pōhivá ke ne aleaʻi e kau politiki tauʻatāiná ke nau kau kae ʻoange hā pe lakanga te nau fiemaʻú koeʻuhi kae lava ke faʻu ʻe he Paati Temokalatí ʻa e puleʻanga lelei taha maʻa e kakaí.
    ʻI ha toe uike ʻe taha pea fai ʻa e fili palēmiá ʻi he ʻaho 29 ʻo Tīsema 2014 ne toutou fakataha fakapulipuli ʻa ʻOnapolo Pōhiva mo e niʻihi ʻo e kau tuʻu tauʻatāiná ʻi hono feingaʻi ke fakalotoa kinautolu ke kau mai ki hono puleʻangá.
    Naʻe fakahā ai ʻe Pōhiva ki he ongoongo ʻa e Kanivá ko e hā pe ngaahi lakanga te nau loto ki aí ʻe pau ke ʻoange ia kae lava ke nau faʻu ha puleʻanga fili fakatemokalati.
    Fepaki:
    Ko e tohi ko ʻeni ʻa Fifitá ʻoku tipeitiʻi lahi ia ʻi he mitia fakasōsialé ʻo hoko ai e kaveinga koi a ki hono fili ʻe ʻOnapolo Pōhiva hono fohá ko ʻene sekelitali tokoni taautahá ko e tōpiki tālangaʻi tahá ia.
    ʻOku pehē ʻe he kau fakaangá ko e fepaki ʻeni ʻa e fiemaʻu ki he lakangá mo e fiemaʻu ke ʻataʻatā ʻa e tokotaha ʻoku ʻoange moʻoná mei ha iku ke aafe faituʻutuʻuni ki he lakanga koi á hangē ko ha tautea kuo tonu ke hilifaki kae iku ʻikai fakahoko koeʻuhī pe ko e vā ʻo kinautolu ʻoku nau maʻu ʻa e ngaahi lakanga fekaukauʻaki mo e tuʻunga ko iá.
    ʻI ha lau ʻa ha tokotaha ko ʻOlivia Veʻetūtū T, naʻe ofi e ʻuhinga ʻene fakamatala ʻi he lea ʻIngilisí ʻi he pehē ʻoku ʻikai ʻasi lelei heni ʻa e Palēmiá ʻi he tuʻunga fakavahaʻapuleʻanga hili ange e taʻu lahi ʻene tuʻuaki e pule leleí.
    Naʻe ʻi ai ʻa e taha ko Arthur Fonua ʻe lava ke liliu ʻene fakamatala ʻi he lea ʻIngilisí ne fai ʻi he Feisipuká kau ki he kaveinga ni ki he pehē ko hono fakanofo ʻe ʻAkilisi hono foha pe ʻoʻoná ʻoku ʻikai haʻane fakalahi pe fakaivia ʻene vīsoné pea naʻe ʻikai fakakaukauʻi lelei ʻeni ʻaki hano huluhulu mei he ngaahi sio fakatemokalatí.
    Ne fehuʻia ʻe Senolita Swan ko e hā e faimeʻa fakamā ko ʻeni pea ʻoku tonu ke fai ʻe he Palēmiá e meʻa ʻoku ne malangaʻí he naʻe ʻi ai ʻene ʻamanaki lelei kiate ia.
    Ka neongo ia naʻe tuʻu tafaʻaki pe kau poupou ʻo e palēmiá ke tau maʻana ʻi he ngaahi fetāʻaki fakaʻuhinga ko ʻení he Feisipuká.
    Ne pehē ʻe Sione Talanoa Fifita ʻi he Peesi Feisipuka ʻa e Democracy for Tonga ʻoku ʻikai filifili mānako ʻa ʻOnapolo Pōhiva ia mo fakafāmiliʻi ʻene fili hono fohá ki he lakangá he ʻoku vahe pe ia mei hono vahenga fakapalēmiá.
    Naʻe pehē ʻe he tokotaha ko Maggie Tupou ko e anga ʻene sió ʻoku ʻikai ha fepaki ia he fiemaʻú ki he lakangá mo hono fili ʻe he palemiá hono fohá he ʻoku totongi pe ʻe he palēmia ia ʻene vahé. Naʻá ne toe pehē ʻoku angamaheni pe ia ki he kakai ken au fili ʻenau sekelitali taautaha pe ia ʻa kinautolu.
    Naʻe ʻi ai mo e tokotaha Iex Tora naʻe kau hake ʻi he tālanga pea naʻa ne pehē ko e meʻa ia ʻoku fai ʻe māmani ʻoku fili pe ʻe he kau palēmia ia ʻenau kau sekelitali tokoni fakataautaha pea nau totongi. Kapau ko e meʻa ia ʻoku fai ʻe Pōhivá pea ʻoku ʻikai ko ha palopalema ia. ʻOku tui ʻa Tupou ʻoku ʻi ai pe tokanga ʻa Pohiva ki ha taha ke ne fakahoko ʻa e lakangá ki he meʻa ʻoku ne fiemaʻú.