World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Tonga: Comment - Free Speech Forever

* Pacific Media Watch Online - check the website for archive and links:
http://www.pmw.c2o.org/
* Post a comment on this story at PMW's Right of Reply:
http://www.voy.com/166636/

Comment:

FREE SPEECH FOREVER


www.matangitonga.to/article/press/tongamedia/Comment151004.shtml
By Pesi Fonua

'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.'
- Voltaire

NUKU'ALOFA (Matangi Tonga Online/Pacific Media Watch): It is nearly one year since November 2003 when Tongans lost their right to Freedom of Speech as a defence.

After last year's Constitutional amendment, Tonga went back 128 years to the days when people were allowed to speak or to express an opinion only if it was in line with that of their superiors or chiefs. In those dark ages they would be clubbed to death for freely expressing their opinions.

You may think that trying to restore the Dark Ages in the Tonga of the 21st century, was definitely not worth the effort, given the growing popularity of mobile phones, wireless internet connections, international news, five 24-hour television channels, and an increasingly mobile population. But strange as it may seem, some people thought they could turn the clock back. They tried and, of course, they failed.

The desire by government to control the expression of people's opinions after 128 years of free-thinking was just incredible.

Government, apparently in a state of blind fury, last year amended Clause 7 of the Constitution and introduced two suppressive pieces of media legislation, for no good reason other than to "control the media and to raise the standard of journalism."

Neither of these objectives were achieved. What the legislation did do was to smear the fine reputation and image of the Kingdom of Tonga, as a progressive, educated and a forward-looking monarchy in the South Pacific. It was the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of our government.

But Chief Justice Webster saved the day with his historical decision. In summing up his decision on 8 October, he said "ŠI found that both Acts were inconsistent with Clause 7 Š and therefore void in terms of Clause 82 of the Constitution. I very much regret having to make such a finding in relation to legislation, which has had the approval of the Legislative Assembly, the Cabinet, the Privy Council and His Majesty the King, but it is the clear duty of this Court under the Constitution to do so and thus to uphold the Constitution."

Chief Justice Webster painted a vivid picture of the essence of Freedom of Expression when he quoted Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Copyright © Vava'u Press Ltd 2004

+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE http://www.pmw.c2o.org

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

(c)1996-2004 Copyright - All rights reserved.

Items are provided solely for review purposes as a non-profit educational service. Copyright remains the property of the original producers as indicated in the header. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright owner for any publishing. Copyright owners not wishing their materials to be posted by PMW please contact us. The views expressed in material listed by PMW are not necessarily the views of PMW or its members.

Recipients should rely on their own inquiries before making decisions based on material listed in PMW. Please copy appeals to PMW and acknowledge source.

For further information, inquiries about joining the Pacific Media Watch listserve, articles for publication, and giving feedback contact Pacific Media Watch at: E-mail: delaro@clear.net.nz pcronau@hotmail.com Fax: (+679) 30 5779 or (+612) 9660 1804 Mail: PO Box 9, Annandale, NSW 2038, Australia or, PO Box 78028, Auckland 1002, New Zealand. Website: www.pmw.c2o.org


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news