Billboard attacks spark outrage online

Attacks on some election campaign billboards in Nuku’alofa have sparked outrage among Tongans on social media.

Some people have accused the vandals of having nothing better to do, while others speculated the attacks were politically motivated.

A full length hoarding that stretched across Vuna Road was pulled down.

Katalina Tohi’s hoarding pulled down because it was not safe for traffic

It was advertising Tongatapu 3 candidate Katalina Tohi, who supports caretaker Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva.

The hoarding was installed closed to Princess Pilolevu Tuita’s residence in Fasimoeafi.

Unconfirmed reports say the structure was removed because it was not safe for traffic.

However, some commentators were quick to speculate that the removal appeared to be political since the advertisement was placed closed to the king’s sister’s royal residence.

A supporter of Tohi told Kaniva News he was told the removal was made by Tēvita Puloka, a construction company owner.

A poster of Tongatapu 3 candidate Tevita Palu, which was attached to a billboard in the Fofo’anga Club’s front yard was ripped down in what commentators said was a clear attempt to influence the outcome of the snap election.

Many commentators were quick to accuse supporters of Tongatapu 3 candidate number 1 Siaosi Sovaleni for the attack since his billboard, which stood next to Palu’s, was undamaged.

Katalina Tohi’s hoarding before it was removed

Others believed the vandalism appears to be the work of people “with nothing better to do” rather than political opponents.

The incident came after unconfirmed reports on social media said that a billboard belonging to Tongatapu 1 candidate Dr Ofo Niumeitolu was stolen from its location about a fortnight ago.

Attempts by Kaniva News to contact the owners of the billboards have so far been unsuccessful.

Outrage

Meanwhile commentators on social media have condemned the attack as “evil” and “morally wrong.”

One commentator said: “No matter what political stance you are or parties you support you should not vandalise other’s billboards.”

Recent photographs uploaded to Facebook show former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni supporting and waving at Palu and Tohi’s parade campaigns in Nuku’alofa in the past two weeks.

Tongan voters will go to the polls in two weeks to vote in a snap election after King Tupou VI dissolved Parliament.

The king said he was not happy with bills submitted by the Pohiva government to be discussed in the House, including  a move to include the cabinet ministers in the King’s Privy Council.

The main points

  • Attacks on some election campaign billboards in Nuku’alofa has sparked outrage among Tongans on social media.
  • Some people have accused the vandals of having nothing better to do, while others speculated the attacks were politically motivated.
  • A full length hoarding that stretched across Vuna Road was pulled down.
  • It was advertising Tongatapu 3 candidate Katalina Tohi, who supports caretaker Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva.

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