16th March 2016 More than 80 guests gathered at Tanoa International Dateline Hotel to mark the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman yesterday.
The Guest of Honor, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Lord Tu’ivakano in his keynote address noted that Ombudsman was a concept accepted worldwide and it plays a significant role in ensuring that governments are effectual.
Lord Tu’ivakano said the Ombudsman Office guarantee that the voices of the public will be heard and are included in the government’s decision making.
“We further recognize the rights of vulnerable members of our society being women and children as well as person with disabilities persons behind bars and those whose voices are not heard within public service. The office of ombudsman is there to ensure that your voices are heard and most importantly you are included in decision making of our Government.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for MEIDECC and Foreign Affairs Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni stated offices as such are recognized as check and balance and safeguard the right of citizens to government services.
“Services are made available for the citizen without favor but more importantly without any cause regardless of position and wealth everyone should have free and equal access to these services,” he said.
Hon. Sovaleni said that “the ombudsman has the final say in cases where its finds abuse of administrative power I believe the office will serve to improve Government services for our people Government Ministry and Public Enterprises should not fear when the Ombudsman come knocking the ombudsman is there to help and make recommendation on how to improve their services delivery Government and Public Enterprises should improve their services and the people will have more confidence in Government.”
“The establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman here in Tonga in the Pacific Context is the latest sovereign nation to adopt the title of ombudsman with the passing of the Commissioner for Public Relations Amendment Act 2016 in the Legislative Assembly.”
The Office of Ombudsman was established in 2001, identified as the Commissioner for Public Relations. The office is an independent body under the Legislative Assembly where citizens can refer to when they are not satisfied with any decisions, actions and recommendations by government’s executives.
The office also launched a new website and a video which highlighted the important roles of the office during the ceremony.
Present at the ceremony were Cabinet Ministers, Lord Tu’iha’ateiho, Members of Parliament, Australian High Commissioner H.E Mr. Andrew Ford, New Zealand High Commissioner H.E Ms. Sarah Walsh, Chinese Ambassador to Tonga H.E Mr. Huang Huaguang, Acting Attorney General Mr. Aminiasi Kefu and guests.
Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications