Moala launches stinging attack on Cabinet Secretary, claiming she should be dismissed

The Prime Minister’s media advisor, Kalafi Moala, has launched a stinging attack on Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet Dr Palenitina Langa’oi.

His attack came in the wake of allegations of nepotism made in his newspaper Taimi ‘O Tonga against Dr Langa’oi, which were subsequently denied  by the government.

Moala, who has rowed with Dr Langa’oi over releasing e-mails discussing the Forbes magazine scandal,  has a part time position with the Prime Minister’s Office Press Unit.

He claimed that Dr Langa’oi had suppressed 17 press releases he had prepared for the Press Unit.

He did not give any details of what were in the press releases, but said it appeared Dr Langa’oi misconceived how the media worked.

The Chief Secretary did not respond to our request to give her side of the story to Kaniva News.

Moala, who no longer involved with daily operation of his paper and now running his own local radio station, claimed that Dr Langa’oi should be dismissed.

He said Hon. Pohiva was trying to make the working of the government transparent, but the Prime Minister’s Office had “closed its doors.”

Moala claimed many questions from the media went unanswered because of Dr Langa’oi.

“The Chief Secretary strictly controls and monitors how information should be released, but she has done it the wrong way,” Moala said.

Moala said Dr Langa’oi called him to a meeting after he released internal e-mails regarding the Forbes saga to Kaniva News.  Moala had accused the Finance Minister of being responsible for  signing the controversial contract with the magazine.

The e-mails were released by Moala to Kaniva News at the request of the magazine’s editor.

According to Moala, Dr Langa’oi told him he should not have released the e-mails as they were confidential.

Moala asked how the e-mails could be confidential when they had been sent to certain senior officials and copied to others.

Her “perception” about how the media work was wrong, Moala said.

Many questions from the media were left unanswered because they ended up with the Chief Secretary without Hon. Pohiva knowing about them, he claimed.

Moala alleged Dr Langa’oi had withheld most of their press releases and had refused to answer questions about travel expenses incurred by senior government officials.

He accused her of using procedures and administrative processes from the days of monarchical government.

“She is now the only person who advises and consult with the Prime Minister,” Moala said.

Yesterday the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement denying allegations in an article published by Moala’s Taimi ‘O Tonga newspaper.

The paper published an article alleging that there was grumbling among staff at the Ministry of Internal Affairs after they found out a former government officer, Nūnia Mone, who was now living in New Zealand, had been picked by the Prime Minister to become Trade Commissioner for Tonga in New Zealand.

The paper said the former officer was a friend of Dr Langa’oi and the cabinet was in the process of moving to pass the appointment.

The government press release denied the allegations in the article, saying Dr Langa’oi and  Mone were not friends and that the Prime Minister had not appointed anybody to such a position.

Taimi ‘O Tonga editor Sione Taukapo told Kaniva News he would not release the names of those in the Ministry of Internal Affairs who gave him the information.

Taukapo said the article was meant to publicly raise the issue before the appointment was passed by Cabinet.

He said the staff at the Ministry were happy the government had not gone ahead with the appointment as they questioned Mrs Mone’s qualifications to hold such an important post.

The main points

  • The Prime Minister’s media advisor, Kalafi Moala, has launched a stinging attack on Chief Secretary and Secretary to Cabinet Dr Palenitina Langa’oi.
  • Moala’s attack came in the wake of allegations of nepotism made in his newspaper Taimi ‘O Tonga against Dr Langa’oi, which were subsequently denied by the government.
  • He claimed that Dr Langa’oi had suppressed 17 press releases he had prepared for the Press Unit.
  • The Chief Secretary did not respond to our request to give her side of the story to Kaniva News.

For more information

Prime Minister’s office statement on Taimi ‘O Tonga (in Tongan)

Rows over Forbes scandal blows up as Moala and Dr Eke lash out at each other (Kaniva News)

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