Vaipulu removed from Infrastructure portfolio because of errors in aviation report, Justice Minister claims

Tonga’s Justice Minister says the Deputy Prime Minister was removed from the Infrastructure portfolio because a report to the International Civil Aviation Organisation was found to have errors.

Hon. Clive Edwards did not say what the errors in the report were, but said the matter was referred back to government.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon, Samiu Vaipulu, is now Tonga’s Minister for Environment, Energy, Climate Change, Disaster Management, Information and Communications.

The newly established portfolio was announced last month.

Edwards denied claims Vaipulu was removed from the Infrastructure portfolio because of a rift with the Prime Minister.

Hon Vaipulu
Deputy Prime MInister Hon Samiu Kiuta Vaipulu

However, the Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano, and his deputy are understood to have discussed the report.

The Justice Minister told the government’s Tonga Weekly that Vaipulu has been transferred to a “very big” and “more significant” portfolios than his previous ones.

He said Vaipulu still retained the deputy premiership and could still take over the Prime Minister’s roles when Lord Tu’ivakano left the country.

Edwards also denied claims that Princess Pilolevu had become involved in the Chinese MA60 saga or that she had been disappointed when an aircraft from a company she was interested in was not selected by government.

The Justice Minister’s comments came after the Acting Secretary to the Cabinet, ‘Aholotu Palu, and the Deputy Prime Minister remained tight lipped when approached by local media – including Kaniva News – to clarify questions about the transference of portfolios.

Critics asked how significant it was to create a new portfolio for Vaipulu at the expense of taxpayers just because there were supposedly errors in a report. They also criticised the timing, saying it was only two more months before Tonga’s general election.

The main points

  • Tonga’s Justice Minister says the Deputy Prime Minister was removed from the Infrastructure portfolio because a report to the International Civil Aviation Organisation was found to have errors.
  • Clive Edwards did not say what the errors in the report were, but said the matter was referred back to government.
  • The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon, Samiu Vaipulu, is now Tonga’s Minister for Environment, Energy, Climate Change, Disaster Management, Information and Communications.
  • Edwards denied claims Vaipulu was removed from the Infrastructure portfolio because of a rift with the Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano.

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