Monday, November 20, 2006



Tonga: On the wrong side

It's offical: we are now on the wrong side in Tonga. The Tongan pro-democracy movement has condemned the intervention of New Zealand and Australian troops:

The movement says the intervention is further proof of the failure of Prime Minister Fred Sevele and his largely non-elected Government.

Pro-democracy movement MP Akilisi Pohiva says the Government failed to heed the warning signs of frustration among the people of Tonga, and its security apparatus failed to ensure law and order when trouble started on the streets of Nuku'alofa.

Mr Pohiva says the death and destruction caused during the riots is a regrettable part of the process of democratic change that is now sweeping the country.

He and his supporters have called on the King to dissolve Parliament and appoint an interim administration comprising the heads of government departments pending fresh fully democratic elections.

Meanwhile, Dr Sitiveni Halapua, one of Tonga's most prominent democrats and the head of the government committee which laid out Tonga's path to democracy, says that we are now "propping the government up against everybody else" and that

there was a belief among some some people in Nuku'alofa that the New Zealand and Australian forces were coming "to make people afraid and to support the government".

Instead, said Halapua, the government should step down so the foreign forces could work with a new leadership.

These are the voices of democratic legitimacy in Tonga, and they are telling us that they do not want us there to put a boot on the throat of Tongan democracy and keep the monarchy in power. And neither do I.

Update: Added link to Sunday Star-Times piece.

9 comments:

Mr Pohiva sounds a bit like rumsfeild.
the ethnic cleansing and rampant destruction is a regrettable part of the process of democratic change.

meanwhile, other releases seem to accuse the king of not taking the action required to restore order - this statement implies they were dishonest abou their wishes to have order.

Having said that, I would have thought if we had half a brain we would have asked the prodemocracy movement earlier. if they don't want us there then we are quite likely to cause more harm than good anyway.

Posted by Genius : 11/20/2006 07:40:00 AM

The article you link to is slightly ambiguous. It does not quote anyone condeming the NZ intervention rather they condemn the Tongan govt for bringing it about - a signifcant difference.

Also, all Halapua says is "there was a belief among some" which does not equate to a statement of fact that we actually are "propping the government up against everybody else" (a quote that is not sourced).

Not enough to make the claim we are "officially on the wrong side".

Posted by Neil Morrison : 11/20/2006 07:59:00 AM

Listen to today's 8.08am clip on Morning Report. One of the leaders of the democratic movement tells Geoff Robinson that Australian and NZ troops 'are welcome', but wishes the two states had done something to prevent the violence in the first place.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/__data/assets/audio_item/676367/mnr-20061120-0808-Tonga_Reform-wmbr.asx

Posted by Susan Deare : 11/20/2006 10:45:00 AM

Susan: and we should have. We took a very quiet approach, "talking quietly on the sidelines". But everyone knew things would come to a head when the old king died, and we should have been much more vocal in arguing for democratic reform and pointing out what the consequences would be if the monarchy tried to cling to power.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/20/2006 11:13:00 AM

So are NZ forces are propping up a monarchial system that is refusing to make democratic reforms?

If so, this is as bad as anything the USA does, if not worse.

Posted by kiwi_donkey : 11/20/2006 01:43:00 PM

I/S,
would not doing that in public (in private being a different matter I guess) not be ENCOURAGING the violence?
GNZ

Posted by Anonymous : 11/20/2006 04:23:00 PM

GNZ: not really - everyone knows the score, and everyone knows what the options are. The big exception of course being the Tongan aristocracy, who apparently don't see why they can't keep on lording it over everyone else forever.

Hopefully last week will have woken a few of them up on that front.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/20/2006 04:33:00 PM

Paul Buchanan in today's Herald is worth a read:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/search/story.cfm?storyid=000C60E4-3DEC-1561-AF6B83027AF1010E

Posted by Anonymous : 11/21/2006 08:43:00 AM

I have written a post replying to these concerns and others:
"In defense of the Tongan intervention"

Posted by Pacific Empire : 11/29/2006 01:26:00 AM