Outstanding fines no bar to Lord Nuku’s election, says AG

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Lord Nuku will remain in Parliament for the next four years despite being ordered by court to pay $3 million pa'anga to Lord Luani.

Lord Nuku’s TP$3,380,335 pa’anga court debts to another Noble will not affect his election to Parliament unless the constitution is changed, Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu says.

Lord Nuku owes the money after the Land Court found him and Chinese companies had
trespassed on two blocks of land which belonged to Lord Luani.

As Kaniva News reported in May, Mr Justice Scott ordered him to pay TP$5,556,000.

This was reduced after a successful appeal before Mr Justice Blanchard in September.

Lord Nuku was re-elected to Parliament last week by ‘Eua members of the nobility during
Tonga’s snap election.

The situation has called into question the fairness of the Constitution to all Tongan MPs and political candidates.

Read more: Lord Nuku keeps title and estate

Clause 65 of the Tongan Constitution stipulates that a candidate for Parliamentary elections has to get a written clearance from the Supreme Court and Magistrates Court showing they have no record of outstanding order before they can register to become a candidate.

Hon. Kefu said that clause did not apply to the Noble’s Members of Parliament.

“The prohibition was only intended for the people’s Parliamentary representatives,” Kefu told Kaniva News in Tongan in an e-mail.

Clause 65 says: “Representatives of the people shall be chosen by ballot and any person who is qualified to be an elector may be chosen as a representative, save that no person may be chosen against whom an order has been made in any Court in the Kingdom for the payment of a specific sum of money the whole or any part of which remains outstanding or if ordered to pay by instalments the whole or any part of such instalments remain outstanding on the day on which such person submits his nomination paper to the Returning Officer: Provided that no person holding an office of emolument under the Crown shall enter the Assembly except the Ministers, and the Governors.”

The Acting Attorney General said the prohibition counted from the day the candidates submitted their “letter” to register as candidates.

“There is no such “letter” to be handed in by the nobility,” he said.

Attorney General could not charge MP

He said it has been declared in a judicial case between Māteni Tapueluelu and the Attorney
General that according to the electoral law the Attorney General could not charge an elected Member of Parliament, only candidates who could file an election petition against other candidates.

Hon. Kefu said if Lord Nuku was charged according to Clause 4 of the Constitution the only
outcome could be that the prohibition in Clause 65 could be repealed because it clashed with Clause 4, but the court could not be able to make decision against Lord Nuku using the prohibition in Clause 65.

People might see this as the court making law and not confining itself to its responsibility to
define the law according to the power given to it by Clause 84 of the Constitution, Hon. Kefu said.

He said an option in this situation was an amendment to the Constitution to apply the
prohibition stated in Clause 65 to the nobility as well as the people’s representatives.

The nobles and the law

In 2012 Parliament passed amendments to the Arms and Ammunition Bill 2012 submitted by a member of the nobility.

The amendments reduced the penalty for the illegal possession of arms from five years to one year or a fine not exceeding TP$5,000 [US$2,698] or to both fine and imprisonment and for the illegal possession of ammunition from two years to one year or a fine not exceeding TP$2,000 [US$1,079] or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Before the amendments, the Nobles could be stripped off their titles and lands if they found
guilty for illegal possession of firearms.

The move was described by then opposition leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva as an attempt by the nobility to save Lord Tu’ilakepa and Lord Tu’iha’ateiho, who at the time face court cases after they were charged with possessing ammunition and firearms without licenses.

The Supreme Court stripped Lord Lasike of his title and estate after he was convicted for illegal possession of 2.22 ammunition in 2012.

Lord Lasike’s title and lands entitlements were eventually restored after a Court of Appeal
decision overturned the Supreme Court’s decision against him.

People’s reps pay court fines

As Kaniva News reported recently, Kele’a newspaper paid court fines of about TP$120,000 last month to allow its former editor, Tongatapu 4 MP Mateni Tapueluelu, to run for Parliament.

Tapueluelu was re-elected to Parliament in last week’s snap election.

In 2014 Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva paid the TP$22,000 legal costs he had been ordered to pay by the Supreme Court in Nukuʻalofa, to clear his way into Parliament in the 2014 general elections.

The Election Office disqualified Sione Kauate Tupouniua from seeking the nomination to
Parliament in 2014 because he failed to fulfil legal requirement stipulated by Tonga’s Electoral Act Section 9(4).

Tupouniua paid his debts and was cleared by the Registrar’s Office, but he went to the Election Office too late to register as a candidate for then general election.

  • The main points
    Lord Nuku’s TP$3,380,335 court debts to another Noble will not affect his election to
    Parliament unless the constitution is changed, Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu
    says.
  • He owes the money after the Land Court found him and Chinese companies had
    trespassed on two blocks of land which belonged to Lord Luani.
  • Clause 65 of the Tongan Constitution stipulates that a candidate has to get a written
    clearance showing they have no record of outstanding orders before they can register.
  • Hon. Kefu said that clause did not apply to the Noble’s Members of Parliament.
    For more information

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  1. ‘E ‘ikai uesia ‘e he mo’ua pa’anga tolu miliona tupu (TP$3,380,335) ‘o Looti Nuku ia ‘a hono fili ia ki he Fale Alea kae ‘oua pe kuo liliu ‘a e konisitutone, ko e lau ia ‘a e ‘Ateni Seniale Le’ole’o ‘Aminiasi Kefu.

    Ko e mo’ua pa’anga ‘eni ‘o Looti Nuku hili ia hano tautea ia mo ha ongo kautaha Siaina ki he halaloto’api ‘i ha ongo poloka kelekele ‘e ua ‘o Looti Luani.

    Hange ko ia ne lipooti ‘e he Ongoongo ‘a e Kaniva ‘i he māhina Mee na’e tu’utu’uni ‘e Fakamaau Scott ke ne totongi ‘a e pa’anga ‘e nima miliona tupu ($5,556,000).

    Ka ne holoki ‘a e tautea ni hili ia hano fulihi ‘e ha Fakamaau’anga Tangi e tu’utu’uni ‘a e Fakamaau Lahi.

    Na’e toe fili pe ‘a Looti Nuku ki Fale Alea ‘i he uike kuo ‘osi ‘e he kau nōpele ‘o ‘Eua mo Tongatapu lolotonga ‘a e fili fakavavevave ‘a Tonga.

    Kuo hanga ‘e he me’a ko ‘eni kuo hoko ‘o fehu’ia e totonu ke tuha e konisitutone ki he kau Memipa Fale Alea kotoa pe mo e kau kanititeiti fakapolitikale.

    Ko e kupu 65 ‘o e konisitutone ‘o Tonga ‘oku ne fakamahino kuopau ke ‘omai ‘a e tohi ‘a ha kanititeiti fili Fale Alea mei he Fakamaau’anga Lahi pe Fakamaau’anga Polisi ‘o fakaha ‘oku ‘ikai ha nau mo’ua ki he fakamaau’anga kae lava ke lesisita kinautolu ke nau hoko ko ha kaniteiti.

    Ka kuo pehē ‘e Kefu ‘oku ‘ikai ke ‘ai e konga ia ‘o e konisitutone ko ia ki he kau Memipa Fale Alea ‘o e kau nōpele.

    Ko e tapui ia ko ia ne fakataumu’a pe ia ki he kau fakafofonga ‘o e kakai, ko e fakamatala ia ‘a Kefu.

    Ko e kotoa ‘eni ‘ene fakamatala ‘o tali ki he fehu’i mei he Kaniva pe ko e ha e ‘uhinga ne kei fili ai pe ‘a Looti Nuku lolotonga ‘oku te’eki totongi hono mo’ua kia Looti Luani.

    ‘I he’ene tali ne pehe ‘e Kefu: ‘E ‘ikai ke fai ha faka’ilo ki Fakamaau’anga ‘a hono fili ‘o Nuku.

    Ko e ngaahi ‘uhinga eni:

    (1) ko e fakatapui ko ia ‘oku ha ‘i he kupu 65 ‘o e Konisitutone ‘oku ha mahino mei hono fakalea na’e taumu’a pe ia ki hono fili ‘a e kau fakafofonga ‘a e kakai. Fakatata, ‘oku lau ‘ a e fakatapui mei he ‘aho ‘oku fakahu ai ‘ a e tohi fakaha kanititeiti. ‘Oku ‘ikai ha tohi pehe ia ki he kau fakafofonga nopele;

    (2) ‘oku ha mei he tu’utu’uni ‘ a e Fakamaau’anga Tangi ‘i he hopo ‘a Mateni Tapueluelu mo e ‘Ateni Seniale, ‘oku ‘ikai ngofua ia ‘i he Lao ki he Fili Fale Alea ki he ‘Ateni Seniale ke ne faka’ilo ha fili ‘o ha taha ki he Fale Alea. Ko e kau kanititeiti pe ‘oku ngofua ke nau fai ha faka’ilo ‘I ha tohi tangi fili (election petition);

    (3) Kapau ‘e fai ha faka’ilo ‘i he kupu 4, ko e ola pe ‘e malava ke ma’u ko hono fakapekia ‘a e fakatapui ‘i he kupu 65 ‘o e Konisitutone koe’uhi ‘oku fepaki pea mo e kupu 4, ka ‘e ‘ikai malava ia ke tu’utu’uni ‘e he Fakamaau’anga ke ngaueaki ‘a e fakatapui ki he kau nopele. ‘E lau ia ‘oku fa’u lao ‘a e Fakamaau’anga kapau tenau tu’utu’uni pehe, kae ‘ikai ke nau faka’uhing’i pe ‘a e lao ‘o fakatatau pea mo honau tefito’i fatongia ‘oku ‘oange ‘e he kupu 84 ‘o e Konisitutone.

    Ko e me’a ia ke fai ko e liliu ‘a e Konisitutone ke ‘i ai ‘a e fakatapui tatau ki he kau nopele.
    Tu’u ‘a e kau nopele mo e lao

    ‘I he 2012 ne paasi ai ha liliu ne fakahu atu ‘e he taha ‘o e kau nopele ki he Lao Me’atau mo e Mahafu 2012.

    Na’e fakasi’isi’i ‘i he ngaahi liliu ko ‘eni ‘a e tautea ki ha ma’u ‘o ha taha mo ha me’atau ta’efakalao mei he ta’u ‘e 5 ki he ta’u pe ‘e taha pea ‘oua na’a ‘ova ‘i he pa’anga $5,000 pe ko e fakatou tautea mo e ngaue popula ki he ma’u mo ha mahafu ta’efakalao ki he ta’u ‘e ua ke holoki hifo ia ki he ta’u ‘e taha pe ko e tautea pa’anga ‘ikai laka hake ‘i he pa’anga ‘e $2,000 pe fakatou tautea mo e fakahu pilisone.
    Ki mu’a ‘i he ngaahi liliu ko ‘eni na’e lava ke to’o ‘a e hingoa mo e kelekeleke ‘o e kau nopele ‘e ‘ilo ‘i he fakamaau’anga kuo nau halaia ki he ma’u mo e me’atau ta’efakalao.

    Na’e fakamatala’i e fo’i nga’unu ko ‘eni he taimi ko ia ‘e he taki ‘o e fa’ahi fakaanga ‘Akilisi Pohiva ko ha feinga ‘a e kau nopele ke fakahaofi ‘a Looti Tu’ilakepa mo Looti Tu’iha’ateiho, ‘a ia ne ‘i ai ‘ena hopo he taimi ko ia ki he ma’u mo e me’atau mo e mahafu ‘ikai ha laiseni.

    Na’e ‘osi to’o foki ‘e he Fakamaau Lahi ia ‘a e hingoa ‘o Looti Lasike mo hono tofi’a hili ia hano fakahalaia’i ki he ma’u mo e mahafu 2.22 ta’efakalao ‘i he 2012.
    Ka na’e toe fakafoki ‘a e hingoa mo e keleke ia ‘o Lasike hili ia hano fulihi ‘e ha Fakamaau’anga Tangi e tu’utu’uni ‘a e Fakamaau’anga Lahi.

    Totongi fakafofonga kakai mo’ua fakamaau’anga

    Hange ko ia ne lipooti ‘e he Ongoongo ‘a e Kaniva, na’e toki totongi ni ‘e he nusipepa Kele’a ‘a honau mo’ua fakafakamaau’anga fe’unga mo e pa’anga Taha Kilu tupu ($120,000) kae lava ke fili Fale Alea ‘a Mateni Tapueluelu ko e ‘etita ia ‘o e nusipepa ni pea ko e fakafofonga ‘o Tongatapu 4.

    Na’e toe fili ki Fale Alea ‘a Tapueluelu ‘i he fili fakavavevave ko ‘eni ‘o e uike kuo ‘osi.

    ‘I he 2014 na’e totongi ai ‘e he ‘Eiki Palemia ‘Akilisi Pōhiva ha pa’anga ‘e TP$22,000 ko hono mo’ua ‘i he ngaahi totongi ‘o ‘ene ‘u me’a fakalao pea na’e tu’utu’uni ‘e he Fakamaau’anga Lahi ke totongi kae lava kau ‘i he fili Fale Alea ‘o e 2014.

    Ko e me’a tatau na’e hoko kia Sione Kauate Tupouniua ko ha kanitieti fili mei Tongatapu 1.

    Na’e kouna ia ke totongi hono mo’ua kae lava ke ne fili Fale Alea he ta’u 2014. Ne lava ‘o totongi hono mo’ua ka ne tomui ia ki he ‘Ofisi Faifili ‘o ‘ikai ai lava ke kau ‘i he fili he ta’u ko ia.