The office of the Prime Minister of Tonga wishes to respond to a media coverage by a journalist, Philip Cass, on 26 April 2017, stating media sources in Tonga have described Prime Minister Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva’s relationship with the national broadcaster as persecution. The report quotes that media sources have criticized Hon. Pohiva that, “It is an attempt to normalize this thinking in Tonga, so that the only true media is controlled media”. He further quotes, “He has chosen to fight the government’s own media, but in doing so, he is making war on press freedom in Tonga.”
The Prime Minister’s Office hereby refutes this statement and states that the usual role of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission was to facilitate, disseminate and publicize the policies and wishes of the government of the day. However, since the inception of this government, it has been the case that the Tonga Broadcasting Commission has chosen to consistently attack the activities of government based on bias unsubstantiated views and opinions but not fact. One can only draw the conclusion that the Tonga Broadcasting Commission has particularly chosen to declare a cold war on this government.
Nonetheless, it still remains the wish of this government that the Tonga Broadcasting Commission is able to recognize its due responsibilities to the current administration and aligns itself accordingly.
In his article, Philip Cass, further quotes, “All the hallmarks of dictatorship are becoming apparent with the PM.” This accusation is outright baseless and the writer should be ashamed of such low reporting on matters of high importance. He refers to a news piece on Kaniva News saying that, “… the renewal of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission CEO, Nanise Fifita’s contract has upset Hon. Pohiva so it is likely he will sack the chair of the board, Tapu Panuve.
The Prime Minister’s Office wishes to state that this statement is erroneous as the Hon. Prime Minister had not sacked Mr. Panuve but rather has received message from the Minister for Public Enterprises, Hon. Poasi Tei that Mr. Panuve has today voluntarily tendered his resignation.
Mr. Cass also refers to the case of the former CEO of the Tonga Communications Corporation, Mr. Ratzvi Jurangpathy, alleging that Mr. Jurangpathy is suing the Kele’a newspaper for representing the views of the Prime Minister.
This Office wishes to clarify that Mr. Jurangpathy had been dismissed from his service at the Tonga Communications Corporation as CEO based on immoral behaviors, in having affairs with women at the workplace. Mr. Jurangpathy had sought remedy with the courts but was overruled.
Mr. Cass should be aware that although Tonga is placed at 49th by the Reporters Without Boarders it is still well ahead of its neighbor, Fiji and even as further as India, China, Indonesia or Russia.