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People's Representatives Dominate Tongan Election

People's Representatives Dominate Tongan Election News

NUKU'ALOFA (Matangi Tonga/PIR/Pacific Media Watch): The front pages of the newspapers published in Tonga this week have been dominated by stories coming from the campaigns of incumbent People's Representatives for Tongatapu - ŒAkilisi Pohiva, Feleti Sevele and ŒIsileli Pulu.

The only exception was the government's newspaper, Kalonikali Tonga, which featured a photograph of Princess Pilolevu accepting a gift of go-carts for a new amusement park in Nuku'alofa.

Here is a look at what ran in the newspapers:

Taimi Œo Tonga:
The front page of the New Zealand-based Taimi Œo Tonga of Tuesday March 8, featured comment by ŒIsileli Pulu on a rumour that government was going to increase the basic salaries of Cabinet Ministers to $100,000 per annum.

ŒIsileli was reported as saying that if it was true that government was going to increase the salaries of Ministers then government should also increase the 5 percent rise it promised the rest of the public servants. ŒIsileli pointed out a number of sources where the money could be raised.

The front page of the Kele¹a of Thursday, March 9, ran a headline, "Parliament is shaking down the Tava tree".

The Kele'a attributed a reliable source (obviously ŒAkilisi Pohiva), giving information about trips overseas to attend meetings and conferences by the Speaker, the Clerk of the House and other staff members since parliament was closed in November. It went on about how much was spent on airlines tickets and on per diems. It also said that there were discrepancies over the dates of departures and arrivals. The Kele'a called for the accounts of the House to be audited properly.

Another headline on the front page of the Kele'a concerned ŒAkilisi¹s reply to Futa Helu. There is a picture of ŒAkilisi, who is replying to comments made by Futa in the Talaki that the three Tongatapu incumbent People's Representatives, ŒAkilisi, Feleti and ŒIsileli should not be re-elected.

The Talaki front page headline for Wednesday March 9 read, "Futa no longer supports ŒAkilisi and the others"

It reports that Futa, a long standing supporter of the move for democratic change in Tonga, had said that after all these years, ŒAkilisi and the so-called democratic members of parliament had achieved zero for the people. He said that the members should have taken Shoreline to court, but so far nothing had been done.

Futa was reported as saying that these democratic members are more concerned with business and all they are doing in the House was to advance their business interests. He thought that incumbent members should not be re-elected into the House.

Kalonikali Tonga:
Typically, the Kalonikali Tonga, of Thursday March 10, featured on its front page a photo of the Tongan Royal Family, this time with Princess Pilolevu and her grand-daughter, Hon ŒAnaseini riding a go-cart that was given to her by Loupua Maile, on March 4.

Loupua imported 10 go-carts from China to launch a project, the establishment of an amusement part for children, driving around on go-carts. Loupua said he has been working on the project since 1993.

The go-carts will be available to be used by children at 4 pm every Friday at the Talamahu Market in Nuku'alofa.



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