The Tongan government believes some Chinese businesses in the kingdom might be hiring hitmen to harm their rivals.
But Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva said he forgot to tell Chinese Ambassador Huang Huaguang about their concerns at their last meeting.
Hon. Pohiva said a government taskforce investigating crimes against Chinese in Tonga was trying to confirm reports about hitmen being hired.
He said even there was no hard evidence yet, the matter was important and if he had remembered to talk about it at their meeting with the Chinese community last month people attending might have been able to help.
He said Minister of Police Mateni Tapueluelu had mentioned it to him after the meeting was finished.
Hon. Pohiva said he would raise the issue with the Chinese community at their next meeting.
The Prime Minister met with the Chinese Ambassador and a group of Chinese community leaders and members at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nuku’alofa on March 30.
The Prime Minister told Kaniva News in Auckland last week he had publicly apologised to the Chinese community after it had been proved some of them had been victims of violent crimes.
“The Tongan Government does not tolerate such violence whether it is against members of the Chinese community or any other community,” the Prime Minister told the Chinese ambassador.
“The Government and the people of Tonga greatly and sincerely appreciate the enormous and ongoing assistance of the Chinese Government and people to Tonga.
“However it is obvious that a minority within Tongan society do not appreciate such assistance. On behalf of the Government, I would like to apologize to each and every person against whom violence was committed and to the Chinese community as a whole.”
Ambassador Huang said he was happy with the Prime Minister’s remarks.
“The Chinese in Tonga still faced many difficulties and challenges,” Ambassador Huang said.
“Crimes against the Chinese community happened frequently in 2016 and some brutal cases remained unsolved.
“The criminals have not been brought to justice and the reasonable compensation claims by the victims were not earnestly responded [to] or implemented. The impact of the overseas deportees to the social security of Tonga made the situation even worse.”
“The Embassy is looking forward to working closely with the Tonga Government and Tonga police to create better safety environment for all the Chinese living and working in the Kingdom.”
Just 24 hours after the Prime Minister met with the ambassador and the Chinese community, Police arrested two men and charged them with theft, after snatching a purse from a Chinese shop owner in Nuku’alofa on April 1.
The Tongan government has set up a sub-committee to investigate crimes against Chinese and other expatriates in Tonga.
The subcommittee is chaired by Hon. Fa’otusia and also includes the Minister of Police, the Commissioner of Police, the Commander of the Tonga Defence Force and the Commissioner of Prisons.
The Chinese in Tonga have been a target of criminal activities because of their businesses.
TVNZ reported last year that the kingdom’s Chinese community was feeling under siege following a spate of violence against shop owners in the capital, Nuku’alofa.
It reported that there had been several armed robberies and violent attacks during 2016.
In November last year Chinese Tongan Ellen Yu, 58, was left in a serious condition and unable to speak after an assault. She was later discharged and recovered at her home.
A 21-year-old man from Pahu appeared in court last month on charges related to the attack.
It was reported at the time that the brutality of the assault heightened fears in the Chinese community in Tonga that their safety and protection were at risk.
Justice Minister Sione Vuna Fa’otusia said attacks on foreigners were a grave concern to the government.
As Kaniva News reported in February, the Police established Operation Great Wall with the aim of reducing crimes against the Asian community in Tonga.
Deputy Commissioner Pelenatita Fe’ao Vaisuai said that while Chinese made up three percent of victims of crime, the offences committed against them were quite serious.
The main points
- The Tongan government believes some Chinese businesses in the kingdom might be hiring hitmen to harm their rivals.
- But Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva said he forgot to tell Chinese Ambassador Huang Huanga about their concerns at their last meeting.
- Pohiva said a government taskforce investigating crimes against Chinese in Tonga was trying to confirm reports about hitmen being hired.
- The Prime Minister told Kaniva News in Auckland last week he had publicly apologised to the Chinese community after it had been proved some of them had been victims of violent crimes.
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