Outrage after King did not invite PM Pōhiva and cabinet to His New Year reception party

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Nuku'alofa Royal Palace gate. Photo/Kalino Lātū

There has been outrage on social media after the king reportedly did not invite Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva and his caretaker cabinet ministers to his 2018 New Year reception party.

Kaniva News has been reliably informed the proposed Deputy Prime Minister Sēmisi Sika was turned away at the royal palace’s gate by the royal guards.

He was reportedly told his name was not on the list of guests.

The incidents had surprised Hon. Pōhiva and his cabinet ministers.

It is understood Hon. Pōhiva and his ministers have been invited to the king’s party every new year since they took power in 2014 until last week’s incidents.

Some supporters of Hon. Pōhiva breached the cultural taboo of not speaking against the king and criticised His Majesty.

Outrage

A commentator said in a Facebook group which identified itself as supporters of the Prime Minister and the Democrats it was about time to stop giving pay to everyone who has done this to the Prime Minister including the king, his nobility and law lords.

They said the king’s budget from taxpayers’ money should be stopped because he did not show respect to the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

“The old year has passed and now the New Year comes, but there is no change at all”, another wrote.

However, another commentator said she would agree with the Prime Minister’s supporters if it was a government function. She said the king was free to invite whoever he wanted to his own party.

Invitees

Our source said government CEOs were invited, including former Members of Parliament who supported the status quo.

One CEO who attended the party claimed the foreign high commissioners and ambassadors were surprised during the Party to learn the Prime Minister and his ministers were not invited.

It is understood Mate Ma’a Tonga players including rugby league star Jason Taumālolo was invited and he attended the party.

King and Hon. Pōhiva

The snub comes after King Tupou VI unexpectedly dissolved the Tongan Parliament and ordered a new election last year. The king was unhappy with Hon. Pōhiva and his government after receiving advice from outgoing Speaker of Parliament, Lord Tu’ivakanō.

However, Hon. Pōhiva and his Democratic Party  won a landslide 14 of the 17 electoral seats, enabling the party to form a government after November’s snap election.

As Kaniva news reported earlier this week, His Majesty has appointed Hon. Pōhiva on Wednesday to become Tonga’s next Prime Minister until 2021.

Grammy award

Hon. Sika intended to go to the Party to assist Josh Tatofi, the first Tongan to be nominated for a Grammy award.

When they arrived at the gate only Tatofi was allowed to enter the Palace.

Hon. Sika, a pianist and musician, recently shared a video clip of him with Tatofi and Atenisi University’s Foundation for Performing Arts mentor ‘Atolomake Helu on social media.

The clip showed Tatofi practicing a Tongan composition by the late Queen Sālote while playing a piano with the assistance of Ms Helu.

Tatofi has been nominated for a Grammy in the Regional Roots Music Album category for his album “Pua Kiele.”

The Grammy Awards will be held on January 28.

Kaniva News has contacted Hon. Sika and the Palace office for comment.

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