Vava‘u protestors say tour breaches the government’s own Covid-19 emergency laws

Ne ‘i ai ha kau fakahā loto ‘i Vava’u ne nau talitali mai e ‘Eiki Palēmia’ mo ‘ene kau Lotu ‘Aukai’ he uike kuo ‘osi’. Ko e taha ‘enau fie ma’u mei he Palēmia’ ke ta’ofi ‘aupito ‘a e lao fakataputapui fakavavevave ke malu’i e Koviti-19 hangē ko e kefiu’ mo e tāuhi vāmama’o mita ‘e 1.5 ’ he ‘oku hangē ne maumau’i pe lao ia ko ia’ ‘e he Palēmia’ mo 'ene kau minisitaa’ lolotonga ‘enau ‘i Vava’u’. Ko e lao fakataputapui kefiu' (curfew) kuo fokotu'u' kuo' ne fakamahino 'a e tokanga 'a e pule'anga' ke ta'ota'ofi 'a e feō'aki' pea neongo kuo fokotu'u e taimi pau ki ai, ka 'oku 'asi mei he fefolau'aki 'a e timi lotu 'aukai ia 'a e palēmia' hangē 'oku 'ikai ko ha me'a ia 'oku fu'u mahu'inga 'a e kefiu'. Pea ko e taha 'eni ia 'o e 'uhinga 'oku pehē ai 'e he kau fakaanga' ko e polokalama lotu ia ko 'eni, 'a ia 'oku fua ai 'e he kakai' ha fakamole laui kilu, 'oku 'ikai hano mo'oni 'e taha 'oku fai fakamamata mo taumu'a ia ki he me'akehe. Ko e lao fakataputapui fakavavevave ko 'eni 'a e pule'anga' kuo 'osi puke ai 'o faka'ilo ha kakai 'e toko 500 tupu he māhina 'Epeleli'.

There were protests in Vava’u this weekend as the Prime Minister arrived for another fasting and prayer service.

This photo is a screenshot of a live Facebook video clip shared by Television Tonga showing the Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa (second to left) , His Health Minister Prof ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu (left)  and Chief Secretary Edgar Cocker (second to right), Vava’u Health Superintendent Dr Sa’ale Lākai (right)  during a visit around Ngu Hospital in Vava’u on Thursday. They appear to have breached the 1.5 social distancing restriction.

Prime Minister Pōhiva Tuʻiʻonetoa also opened new weaving houses and community centres for women.

Protestors said the government tour contradicted the official curfew laws.

They said the government should stop imposing curfews.

Videos seen by Kaniva News appear to show the government officials and the Prime Minister breaching the 1.5 metre social distancing in the way they visited places and mixed and mingled with people after arriving in Vava’u last week.

Hon. Tuʻiʻonetoa and his entourage were welcomed to a “houa ‘ilo,” which is Tongan for the hour (“houa”) of feasting prepared for nobles and high class people, at Tu’anekivale this afternoon. The food for the houa ‘ilo was prepared and provided by the locals.

At the same time protests were staged in Neiafu, with a number of vehicles being draped with banners, including one which accused the Prime Minister of duping the people of Vava’u.

One of the protests’ banners calling on the Prime Minister to stop imposing curfews. Photo/Facebook

Another banner demanded the Prime Minister to resign.

The protesters criticised the Prime Minister’s recent new laws requiring drivers and front passengers to wear seat belts.

Banners read:

“Fu’u mamafa mo’ua faka’uli ta’eleta” (The seatbelt legislation is costly)

“Fie ma’u ke ke fakafisi”(You need to resign)

“Stop the Kefeu Palemia ke Sesele” (Stop imposing curfews Prime Minister are you foolish)

Another banner asked the Prime Minister why he made laws to punish the people.

“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool Vava’u all the time,” another banner read.

Another banner from Vava’u protesters last week. Photo/Facebook

Protesters also criticised the move by the People’s Party Deputy Chair Etuate Lavulavu to submit a Bill to control kava sales and exports.

It was unclear who was behind the banners and the protests, but photos taken of the vehicles and banners were  shared to Facebook by several users, including former Vava’u parliamentary candidate, PTOA Supporter and business operator Tomifa Paea.

He wrote a caption on the photos thanking the protesters for enlightening the people and helping to build the nation

In Tongan he said: “Malo e fakamaama mo e ngaue lahi tokoni kihe tau langa fonua.”

Tonga’s Declaration of a State of Emergency has been renewed from 8pm on November 23 to 8pm on December 21, due to the continuing spread of CoViD-19 around the world.

Night-time curfews  from midnight to 5am will be enforced by the Tonga Police, His Majesty’s Armed Forces and relevant authorised officers.

It said all activities and gatherings in Tonga shall comply with social distancing, keeping 1.5m from any other person at all times.

In April Police have arrested 568 people since a state of emergency was declared on 28 March to try and counter Covid-19.

357 of those arrested had allegedly breached the lockdown rules or obstructed officers.

The lockdown includes a night time curfew.

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