Claims of money transfers, secret meetings and misuse of staff ‘degrading’ says Speaker

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Lord Tu'ivakanō, Speaker of Parliament. Photo/Tonga Parliament

Lord Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakanō has hit back at allegations made against him by a former parliamentary employee, saying they had “degraded” him.

Seinimili Tu’i’onetoa Fonua, who described herself as a legal adviser to parliament, said she had resigned from the Legislative Assembly over what she claimed was a lack of independence in parliament and allegations of financial and other irregularities involving Lord Tuʻivakanō, who is the Speaker of the House and a former Prime Minister.

Fonua also claimed that:

  • The plan to dissolve parliament was arranged by Lord Tuʻivakanō through a number of secret meetings with Chief Clerk Gloria Pole’o and others.
  • There were cultures of favouritism and nepotism in the House in which staff had been treated as pro-nobility and pro-government.
  • Lord Tuʻivakanō had improperly used parliamentary staff and resources to support Chinese business associates.
  • Lord Tuʻivakanō and parliamentary staff were involved in improperly sending money overseas. Sums of up to TP$20,000 at a time were involved.
  • A restaurant owned by the Speaker and operated by the Chief Clerk’s mother and sister was regularly used for parliamentary functions.
  • Staff were being paid for overtime they did not do.
  • The Speaker had abused his power by using parliamentary staff to do personal work for him

Her letter of resignation, dated October 26,  was leaked to the media and has since been read on a Tongan radio station.

Kaniva News was made aware of the letter on Friday, but for the sake of balance decided to delay publishing the story until we had a response from the king’s noble.

In a letter to Fonua seen by Kaniva News, Lord Tuʻivakanō said her “negative suspicion and misinformation” showed she had a political agenda.

He claimed she had admitted that she could not perform her role independently because she was related to a government minister.

“You were disappointed after you were not informed of the decision to advise the king to dissolve the parliament,” Lord Tuʻivakanō said.

“You have then claimed I worked secretly with the Chief Clerk on that matter. I would like to make it clear that neither the Chief Clerk nor anyone in the House was involved in my plan to advise the king to dissolve the House.

“It was in my discretion to seek advice from any of the staff at parliament. There was no need for me to seek advice from you.”

Lord Tuʻivakanō claimed Fonua had really resigned because she had been appointed by Cabinet as a Commissioner with the Electricity Commission.

“The Chief Clerk advised you to let me know about it. It is understood the parliament’s guideline does not say anything about staff having two jobs,” he said.

“You were selfish to hold two jobs at one time.”

The Speaker denied Fonua’s claims that there was conflict between him and the Chief Clerk.

He dismissed accusations that money had been improperly transferred overseas.

“If that was illegal you know which place to take it up with. Anyone in the office of the Parliament is free to do the same thing,” he said.

The Speaker of Parliament said he had copied his letter to Fonua to the Election Commission, Public Enterprises and Public Service Commission.

The main points

  • Lord Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakanō has hit back at allegations made against by a former Parliamentary employee, saying they had “degraded” him.
  • Seinimili Tu’i’onetoa Fonua, who described herself as a legal adviser to parliament, said she had resigned from Parliament over what she claimed was a lack of independence in Parliament and allegations of financial and other irregularities involving Lord Tuʻivakanō, who is the Acting Speaker of the House and a former Prime Minister.
  • In her resignation letter, Fonua made a number of allegations against the Speaker, including claims of improper use of parliamentary staff and resources.
  • She also claimed that he had worked with the Chief Clerk on the plan to dismiss parliament.

For more information

Speaker Lord Tuʻivakanō finally speaks out after king dissolved Parliament

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  1. Pehe ‘e he Sea ‘oku tukuhifo ia ‘e he tukuaki’i ki he fe’aveaki pa’anga, fakataha fakapulipuli mo e ngauehala’aki ‘a e kau ngaue ‘a e Fale Alea.

    Kuo tuku mai ha tali ‘a Looti Siale ‘Ataongo Tu’ivakano ki he ngaahi lau tokua ‘a ha taha ngaue Fale Alea ki mu’a ‘o fakafepaki’i ia, ‘o pehe ‘oku tuku hifo ia ‘e he fakamatala ni.

    Na’e pehe ‘e Seinimili Tu’i’onetoa Fonua ‘a ia ne ne fakamatala’i ia ko e fale’i fakalao ki he Fale Alea, ko ‘ene fakafisi mei he Fale he‘oku ‘ikai tau’ataina ‘a e Fale Alea mo e ngaahi tukuaki’i tokua ki he ngaahi fehulunaki fakapa’anga mo e ngaahi tolotolosia ne kau ai ‘a Looti Tu’ivakano ‘a ia ko e Sea ia mo ha Palemia ki mu’a.

    Na’e toe pehe ‘e Fonua:
    • Ko e palani ke veteki ‘a e Fale Alea na’e fokotu’utu’u ia ‘e Looti Tu’ivakano ‘i ha ngaahi fakataha fakapulipuli mo e Kalake Pule Gloria Pole’o mo ha ni’ihi kehe.

    • ‘Oku ‘i ai ‘a fakapone mo e filifilimanako ‘i he Fale ‘a ia ‘oku fai ai hono siofi ‘o e kau ngaue ‘o ‘i ai ‘a e kau poupou ki he kau nōpele ‘o ohi makehe ia pea ni’ihi poupou ki he pule’anga ‘oku ohi kehe’i ia.
    • Na’e ‘ikai totonu ‘a hono ngaue’aki ‘e Looti Tu’ivakano ‘a e kau ngaue mo e me’a ngaue ‘a e Fale Alea ke poupou’i ‘aki ‘a ‘ene ngaue mo hono kaunga me’a Siaina fakapisinisi.
    • Na’e ‘i ai e kaungafai ‘a Looti Tu’ivakano mo e kau ngaue ‘a e Fale Alea ki hano ‘ave ‘o ha pa’anga ki muli. Ne a’u ki ha pa’anga ‘e $20,000 ne ‘ave he fo’i taimi pe ‘e taha.
    • Na’e faka’aonga’i e falekai ‘oku ‘a e Sea pea fakalele ‘e he fa’e mo e tokoua ‘o e kalake pule ki he ngaahi talitali faka-Fale Alea.
    • Na’e totongi atu ha ngaahi vahe ‘ovataimi na’e ‘ikai totonu ki he kau ngaue.
    • Na’e ngaue hala’aki ‘e he Sea ‘a hono mafai ‘aki ‘a hono ngaue’aki ‘o e kau ngaue ‘a e Fale Alea ki he’ene ngaue fakataautaha ‘a’ana.
    Ko e tohi ko ‘eni ‘a ia ne faka’aho ki he ‘aho 26 ‘o ‘Okatopa na’e mama ia ki he mitia pea a’u ‘o lau mai ‘i ha letio ‘i Tonga.

    Na’e ‘ilo ‘a e Kaniva ki he tohi ni ‘i he ‘aho Falaite, ka ke palanisi hano tuku atu ‘o ha ongoongo ai na’e pau ke fakatatali hono pulusi kae ‘oua kuo ‘omi ha tali mei he ‘Eiki Palemia ki mu’a ni.

    ‘I ha tohi ka Fonua ne ‘omi mei he Sea, na’e pehe ‘e Looti Tu’ivakano ko e ma’uhala mo mahalo kovi ‘a Fonua ‘oku ‘asi mei ai ne ‘i ai ‘ene ‘asenita fakapolitikale.

    Pehe ‘e he Sea na’e ‘osi fakaha pe ‘e Fonua ‘e ‘ikai lava ia ‘o fakahoko tau’ataina ‘a hono fatongia ko’euhi ‘oku ‘i ai hono kainga toto mo e taha ‘o e kau minisitaa.

    Na’a ke mamahi ‘i he ‘ikai fakaha atu ‘a e tu’utu’uni ke fale’i ‘a e tu’i ke veteki ‘a e Fale Alea, ko e me’a ia ‘a Looti Tu’ivakano.

    Na’a ke tukuaki’i leva kuo u ngaue fakapulipuli mo e kalake pule ‘i he me’a ko ia.

    Na’e fie fakaha mahino ‘e he sea na’e ‘ikai kau ai ‘a e kalake pule ia pe ko ha taha ngaue ‘i he fale ko e palani pe ia mo e fokotu’utu’u ‘a ‘ana tokotaha ke fale’i ‘a e tu’i ke veteki ‘a e Fale Alea.

    Pehe ‘e he Sea ko e me’a tau’ataina pe ia ‘a’ana pe te ne kumia ha tokoni ‘a ha taha mei he kau ngaue pe ‘ikai pea ko ia ai na’e ‘ikai fiema’u ia ke ne kumi fale’i meia Fonua.

    Pehe ‘e Tu’ivakano ko e ‘uhinga totonu e fakafisi ‘a Fonua koe’uhi ko hono fokotu’u ia ‘e he Kapineti ke ne hoko ko ha Komisiona ‘i he Komisoni ‘Uhila.

    Na’e faka’ikai’i foki ‘e he Sea na’e ‘ikai ha fepaki ‘i he fiema’u fakaetaautaha ‘a e Kalake Pule mo ia i hona va fakangaue.

    Na’a ne faka’ikai’i ‘e ia a e fakakikihi ‘o pehe na’e ta’etotonu hono ‘ave ‘o e pa’anga ki muli ‘aki hono ngaue’aki ‘o e kau ngaue.

    Na’a ne pehe kapau ‘oku ta’efakalao e ‘ave pa’anga ni pea ‘oku ‘ilo pe ‘e Fonua ‘a e feitu’u ke ‘ave ki ai. Pehe ‘e he Sea ‘oku tau’ataina ha taha pe he Fale Alea ke fai ‘a e me’a tatau.