Lavulavu sacked from Infrastructure portfolio, told to work with no pay for five months

Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pohiva has punished Hon. ʻEtuate Lavulavu by removing him as Minister of Infrastructure and ordered him to work without pay for the first five months of 2016.

Hon. Lavulavu retains his post as Minister of Tourism.

The announcement of the sentence was made today at the Fa’onelua Convention Centre in Nuku’alofa at a public gathering.

The sentence came after Hon. Lavulavu escaped a threat of Parliamentary impeachment last month that could have ended his career last month.

Clause 75 of Tongan constitution stipulates that if a minister is “found guilty it shall be lawful to dismiss him from office.”

While Hon Lavulavu’s impeachment was discussed in the House, Hon. Pohiva told members to leave it to him to punish the minister.

Hon. Lavulavu was investigated after a motion in August by Vava’u No 2 Nobles’ Representative Lord Tu’ilakepa triggered an investigation into claims the minister had breached the law by approving road maintenance works and payments for works in Vava’u without going through the government’s procurement committee.

In announcing his sentence, the Prime Minister did not give details of how he arrived at the minister’s sentence.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office inviting media to the Press Conference listed only three items on the agenda:

  1. Welcome.
  2. Statement delivered by the Prime Minister Hon. Samuela ʻAkilisi Pohiva.
  3. Note of Thanks.

It also noted that a press release would be delivered at the conference.

The media were not allowed to ask questions. Journalists, including Bruce Hill from Radio Australia, reacted suprisingly to the ruling on Facebook.

“Oh dear”, Bruce Hill said in a comment he made on a post by Tongan correspondent Monalisa Palu in which she said:

“PM’s decision: He will not remove Lavulavu but he will stay in power as Minister of Tourism only without pay for 5 months effective January. After announcement no questions were allowed. [That’s democracy] and then he asked people to clap. [Good that we know]”.

The main points

  • Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pohiva has punished Hon. ʻEtuate Lavulavu by removing him as Minister of Infrastructure and ordered him to work without pay for the first five months of 2016.
  • The sentence came after Hon. Lavulavu escaped a threat of Parliamentary impeachment last month that could have ended his career last month.
  • Lavulavu was investigated after a motion in August by Vava’u No 2 Nobles’ Representative Lord Tu’ilakepa triggered an investigation into claims the minister had breached the law by approving road maintenance works and payments for works in Vava’u without going through the government’s procurement committee.
  • While Hon Lavulavu’s impeachment was discussed in the House, Hon. Pohiva told members to leave it to him to punish the minister.

For more information 

Hon. Lavulavu survives impeachment motion

Angry Lavulavu reacts to impeachment allegations, calls Speaker a ‘dictator’

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