Rift over Chinese aircraft splits Tu’ivakano and Deputy

Lord Tu’ivakano has removed Deputy Prime Minister Hon Samiu Vaipulu from the Infrastructure portfolio amid speculation they rowed over the controversial Chinese MA60 aircraft.

The Tongan government has yet to officially release any information and as of today its website still lists Hon Vaipulu’s ministerial portfolio as Minister of Infrastructure, the ministry that responsible for Tonga’s civil aviation. He has been moved to another ministry.

When Vaipulu was Minister of Infrastructure he was instrumental in bringing the controversial Xian MA60 turpo prop to the kingdom.

New Zealand issued a travel advisory and withheld a NZ$18 million grant for Tonga’s Tourism industry because it believed the Chinese aircraft was unsafe.

The Prime Minister’s Acting Secretary did not respond to our email.

Read more:

Kaniva News can reveal that following complaints from Ha’apai islanders about the way Hon Vaipulu handled relief efforts for the islands, the Prime Minister removed him as minister responsible for NEMO, the department that co-ordinates cyclone relief efforts.

We have been reliably informed that tension between the Prime Minister and his deputy flared again after Tonga received a second aircraft from China early last month.

The Harbin Y-12 aircraft, which is operated by Real Tonga Airlines, was commissioned in Vava’u by His Majesty King Tupou VI.

The origins of the aircraft drama can be traced back to March this year when the Prime Minister visited New Zealand and met with New Zealand’s Pacific Island Affairs Minister, Hon. Murray McCully.

Lord Tu’ivakano wanted New Zealand to release the tourism funding and remove its travel advisory.

He had to agree to ground the MA60 before New Zealand would back down.

Click here to: Like us on Facebook

When the Prime Minister told his cabinet in Nuku’alofa to ground the aircraft,  Hon Vaipulu strongly rejected the move and insisted he would resign.

Hon. Vaipulu was one of the key figures who masterminded the formation of the current government and led to Lord Tu’ivakano to become the first Prime Minister of Tonga’s current system of government.

Chinese aviation reps in kingdom

Last week Hon. Vaipulu introduced a civil aviation bill in Parliament, saying it was intended to fix the 1990 Civil Aviation Act.

While introducing his bill, Vaipulu revealed that a team of 14 personnel from China’s Civil Aviation Administration was in Tonga to help with the kingdom’s aviation law.

He then moved for the Speaker to take a ballot on the bill.

Unusually, the Prime Minister stood up and told his Minister for Law to postpone the balloting as he needed time to look at it. The Prime Minister then reportedly left the House.

The Speaker agreed and the bill was not put to the vote.

The main points

  • Lord Tu’ivakano has removed Deputy Prime Minister Hon Vaipulu from the Transport portfolio amid speculation they rowed over the controversial  Chinese MA60 aircraft.
  • The Tongan  government has yet to officially release any information, but its website lists Hon Vaipulu’s ministerial portfolio as Minister of Infrastructure.
  • Last week Hon Vaipulu introduced a civil aviation bill in Parliament, saying it was intended to fix the 1990 Civil Aviation Act.
  • While introducing his bill, Vaipulu revealed that a team of 14 personnel from China’s Civil Aviation Administration was in Tonga to help with the kingdom’s aviation law.

More information

Harbin Y11/12

‘One killed in Kenyan Y-12 crash’

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news