Tonga’s ‘Sabbath laws’ questioned after vessel allegedly departed Vava‘u this morning

A vessel has been reportedly departing Tonga’s Vava’u island group this morning Sunday 15.

MV Papa Mau. Photo/Vava Lapota

Neiafu Town Officer Vava Lapota has questioned whether the departure had breached Tonga’s Sabbath laws.

“Ko e mavahe atu eni a e vaka uta koniteina mei he uafu vahefonua Vavau ni pongipongi sapate fefe ae ngeia moe molumalu oe lao Sapate”, Lapota posted on Facebook in Tongan.

He also posted photos of the vessel, MV Papa Mau to Facebook.

Authorities could not be reached for comment.

According to the website vessel finder, the current position of Papa Mau is at South Pacific Ocean in the last two weeks.

The vessel is en route to Tonga’s main island Tongatapu, and expected to arrive there on Oct 15, 7am, it said.

“The vessel is a General Cargo Ship built in 1999 and currently sailing under the flag of Antigua & Barbuda”.

The kingdom’s Sabbath laws stipulate that transport services are not allowed to operate on Sunday.

In 2004 the Legislative Assembly rejected a submission that it drop a planned measure to allow some transport services to operate on Sunday, RNZ reported.

The bill was intended to allow aircraft flights, work in the Marine Department, and other related activities, on Sundays.

Seven church leaders presented a petition opposing the bill.

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