(L-R) Minister of Justice Vuna Fa'otusia, Minister of Police Mateni Tapueluelu, Minister of Finance Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa and Acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika


Kaniva news comment

Who will take the place of ‘Akilisi Pohiva?

Stepping into the shoes of Tonga’s democratic pioneer will be a challenge.
Hon. Pohiva had political aptitude, charisma and there was a die-hard quality to the way he tackled political objectives.

He did the hard job of laying the foundations for Tonga’s shift from a country ruled by the royal family and dominated by the nobles to one where an ordinary citizen could become Prime Minister.

The next Prime Minister must be somebody who has the courage to continue Hon. Pohiva’s hard work.

The country must have somebody who will make sure the king does not reverse the process of democratisation.

The people showed their support for Hon. Pohiva until his death. These are the same people a new PM must cherish politically.

The submission of candidates for the position of Prime Minister has opened and will close on September 26.

The Speaker will then announce the day for the election of the new PM.

Likely candidates

A handful of likely candidates stands out.

Vuna Fa’otusia

Hon. Fa’otusia has displayed the political glamour and charisma ‘Akilisi Pohiva had, which appealed to the majority of Tongans who were democratic activists and supporters. He was outspoken in parliament about the absolute power of the nobility over the land. He was particularly concerned that even when people were given land to live and grow crops, ownership still rested with the nobles. He was also outspoken in criticising the Privy Council and Law Lords’ interference in reviewing the parliament’s laws and deciding whether they should be signed by the king or not. He said the bills passed by parliament should go straight to the king and not the law lords, as laid down in the constitution.

Mateni Tapueluelu

Hon. Pohiva’s son-in-law, Mateni Tapueluelu, was the former editor of the late Prime Minister’s‘ Kele’a newspaper and showed a political aptitude for the fight to have the executive government fully democratised. His debates in parliament showed he has great knowledge about democracy and the need for political changes. However some people think Mateni is still young and the fact his constituency was a PTOA stronghold means he has more opportunities to run for the premiership in the future.

Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa

Hon. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa was a silent, hard-working minister. The former Auditor General was outspoken in assuring the public of the good reputation and profile of the PTOA party. He has corrected misreporting by news media who had been seen by democrats as anti-government. After the king announced early this year the government did not appear to have a clear economic vision, Hon. Pohiva denied it in parliament. He said the government’s economic vision was put under the second part of the Tonga Strategic Development Framework, which runs from 2015 – 2025. His speech to support ‘Akilisi Pohiva on the premiership election day was praised by many, especially when he highlighted Hon. Pohiva’s history of
political work from an Auditor General’s point of view. He said the late Prime Minister was genuine in his attempt to democratise the government system and there was no secret agenda.

Saia Piukala

Hon. Piukala was extremely supportive of Hon. Pohiva. His health expertise helped him to survive some of serious health conditions about a year before he died, the late Prime Minister told Kaniva news. Piukala’s speeches in parliament showed he understood the government system well and the importance of the democratic reform process . Hon. Piukala’s speech in Auckland at the Prime Minister’s memorial service was praised by many. He was instrumental in supporting the Prime Minister in his travel to Tuvalu and joining the recent Pacific Leaders’ meeting, amid concerns about his health conditions. Hon Piukala said he understood that was the last important meeting for the Prime Minister to attend and he did his best to make sure he could make it. Hon. Pohiva has been praised by Pacific leaders for the speeches he made about West Papua and climate change.

Semisi Sika

There is no doubt there was a good reason why the late Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva appointed Hon. Sika to become his deputy. He has been described as silent hardworking Minister who was very supportive of Hon. Pohiva. He grew up in religious and business family and was involved with the private sector, especially sports and tourism, for years. His father Viliami Sika, who has owned a finance company for many years, was a strong supporter of Hon. Pohiva from the beginning of his political career. Hon. Sika was the most senior elected MP in the PTOA party and as such he has the right to become Tonga’s next Prime Minister.

Kaniva Tonga believes that Hon. Sika is the best choice to be the next Prime Minister of Tonga.

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