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The Hon Prime Minister’s Response to Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi’s Statement

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08th March, 2018 TONGAN The Hon Prime Minister, Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva today said that he regretted that Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi’s statement to the staff of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had been circulated via social media as he believes the Noble had not intended his remarks to be broadcast globally. But the Prime Minister acknowledged that such was the harsh reality of today’s globalised world so one must be prepared to deal with it.

In Lord Ma’afu’s statement to the staff of the Ministry he brought up two issues which he alleged were the reasons behind the Hon Prime Minister’s displeasure with him as the Minister for Land and Natural Resources as well as Minister responsible for His Majesty’s Armed Forces. The first of these is that Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi alleged that Cabinet had discussed in its meeting on Friday, 3 March, a Cabinet Submission that recommended that Cabinet approve the application by the Solicitor General to the Supreme Court for the judicial review of His Majesty’s prerogative to assent to or veto a piece of legislation that had already been adopted by the Legislative Assembly. He also alleged that the Hon Prime Minister had not wanted him to attend the Friday 3 of March Cabinet meeting as his presence could give rise to a prolonged dispute. The second issue that Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi brought up is that he alleged that the Hon Prime Minister had wrongly accused him of having signed (fakamo’oni) a Regulation that authorised Life Peers to register as candidates in the election of Noble’s representatives to the Legislative Assembly, whilst the Hon Prime Minister was on an official trip overseas.

The Hon Prime Minister said, “While I attended the annual summit of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in Samoa in September 2017, Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi was Acting Prime Minister of Tonga. As Acting Prime Minister, Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi made the “Electoral (Election of Representatives of the Nobles) Regulations 2017”, in exercise of the powers conferred by section 9B of the Electoral Act 1989. This Regulation authorised Life Peers to be candidates in the upcoming elections for Nobles’ Representatives to the Legislative Assembly in November 2017. Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi made this Electoral Regulations without informing the rest of the members of Cabinet, or the rest of members of the Nobles of the Realm, or the Office of the Supervisor of Elections, or the Attorney General’s Office, or the Solicitor General’s Office, not even the Prime Minister’s Office! No one at all! I firmly believe Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi should have at least informed the other members of the Nobles of the Realm and the rest of Cabinet, because the changes that the new Electoral Regulation brought into force was of major significance to the nation as a whole”.

The Hon Prime Minister also said, “Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi’s statement that Cabinet had discussed in its meeting on Friday, 3rd of March a Cabinet Submission regarding His Majesty’s prerogative to assent to or veto legislations that had already been adopted by the Legislative Assembly is correct. But take note of this! It was not the intention of the Cabinet Submission to seek a judicial review of His Majesty’s prerogative to assent to or veto legislations that had already been adopted by His Majesty. Not at all! The current Cabinet, and the Government that I lead, respects and supports that particular Royal prerogative as we believe it is an absolutely

essential element of the system of government that we had agreed to. But the aim of the Cabinet Submission that we discussed was to seek a judicial review of the right of the Privy Council to approve or disapprove a piece of legislation that had already been adopted by the Legislative Assembly. Our Constitution does not give any authority to the Privy Council to approve or disapprove a piece of legislation that had been adopted by the Legislative Assembly. But so far there have been 5 pieces of legislation that had been passed by the Legislative Assembly between 2014 and 2016 which the Privy Council had deferred for further deliberation. Some of these had been adopted by the Legislative Assembly during Lord Tu’ivakano’s term as Prime Minister and the rest were adopted more recently.

The Hon Minister for Justice had tabled the Cabinet Submission that was discussed after it had been vetted by a legal expert in his Ministry and it was also vetted by the Solicitor General. And this was discussed on 3 March, and Cabinet agreed to defer their final decision. So even though Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi was not present at the meeting of Cabinet, still there was no consensus that the application for judicial review should go ahead”.

The Hon Prime Minister also stated, “I regard Lord Ma’afutukui’aulahi as my son. And I am impressed and moved by the fact that he recognised my thinking and feelings and therefore offered his resignation. I selected him to help me in steering our government after the elections in 2014 and again in 2017. Sadly, it is obvious that we disagree on a number of things so there must be a parting of ways”.

ENDS

Issued by the: The Prime Minister’s Office, P.O. Box 62, Nuku’alofa, Tonga. Tel: (676) 24 644 Fax: (676)23 888; For media enquiries- Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Website: www.pmo.gov.to

Last Updated ( Thursday, 08 March 2018 12:47 )  

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