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A collection of news-briefs from The Tonga Chronicle, Ko e Kele'a, Taimi 'o Tonga, Radio Tonga. For more details of these stories, feel invited to buy a paper from one of the locations mentioned in our Tonga Media pages

New Appointments - Ministers of the Crown

Following the quick demise of former Minister for Lands, Fakafanua, the King's counsellors soon showed their remedy to quickly re-arrange officials with a number of new appointments.

Persona New Appointment
Hon. Tu'i'afitu (Samisoni Fonomanu) Minister of Lands, Survey, and Natural Resources
Hon. Fielakepa (Siosaia Tupou Aleamotu'a) Governor: Ha'apai
Capt. Hon. Tuita Governor: Vava'u
Mr. Sateki 'Ahio Acting Private Secretary
A. Tu'ivanuavou Vaea Acting Deputy Private Secretary

A Short Profile - (aka what they wrote in the papers about these people)

Hon. Tu'i'afitu, christened Samisoni Fonomanu

Hon. Fielakepa; christened Siosaia Tupou Aleamotu'a

Capt. Tuita

Minister of Lands retires amidst ...

Hon. Fakafanua, Minister of Lands, retired after the King in Privy Council accepted his resignation. The former Minister is remanded on bail in connection with eight criminal charges of alleged fraudulent conversion, extortion, and accepting bribes.

The Minister is not alone in the accusations with others also involved in the investigations from the ministry including; Savaea Latu, Secretary; Paula Foliaki, Chief Registrar; Salesi Fotu, Estimator; Sifa Tupouto'a, Registrar officer; Sinilau Tamo'ua, Acting Chief Surveyor.

135 Tupou College students sentenced

"You chose to take the law into your own hands, so you have to take the consequences, and 135 of you will compensate Tonga College with T$563 each within eight weeks or face six months of imprisonment." - Chief Justice William Lewis

135 defendants charged in the vandalism at Tonga College at an estimated cost of more than TOP$76,000 which included setting fire to buildings were sentenced in the Supreme Court convened at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall due to the large number of attendees.

The chief justice shared the responsibility for the damages to the defendants by dividing the final estimate requiring all 135 student-defendants to pay compensation. The sentencing, determined by the seriousness of the offences categorised the defendants into 14 groups.

Trespassing. All defendants were charged with trespass, but the courts deferred jurisdication to the Magistrate Court

Wilful damage to buildings or equivalent. 103 defendants were charged and sentenced to three months of imprisonment suspended for two years subject to good behaviour.

Arson, wilful damage to buildings or equivalent, theft. 16 defendants received three-year prison sentences for arson, suspended for two years subject to good behaviour.

The Chief Justice highlighted for students the seriousness of their crime when he said the prison term would be "like a sword on top of your head tied with a thread. If you violate a traffic law and are found guilty in court, you will serve the sentence I have carried out today."

Unfortunately, he added, it was not very clear who were the leaders and who the followers. He said the sentences distressed him, that they would affect the futures of all the defendants, and that the defendats' actions had damaged the Kingdom's reputation as the Friendly Islands. Self-control in the face of earlier provocation was warranted but not followed. "Your actions were evil and brutish, and everyone should be ashamed."

The Free Wesleyan Church, which operates Tupou College as a residence and day school for boys, had agreed to pay damages to Tonga College.

Telecom defends its turf

Tonga Telecom spokesperson Mr. Busby Kautoke described local telecommunications problems as "same as those faced by other countries." [editor: coughs of disbelief resounding in the background...]

According to officialdom, a meager 3~4% of the 7,000 subscribers report problems, an average of 50 reports a day. The goal is to repair within three days of a report. Teams are available throughout the workday, but some repairs are especially difficult and time-consuming to make. Subscribers are naturally impatient to have repairs made, the Officer said, but Telecom must prioritise to make certain that important lines, such as those of Government, Police, the military, hospitals, and other vital links, are repaired first.

[editor: As a consumer who has received both good and bad Telecom service, I can categorically state that our problem reports have never been dealt with by Telecom within 3 days. Telecom may well take your name of the list within 3 days, so you have to call back six -to- seven times for action, but it is the exceptional experience to have Telecom resolve any problems within 3 days. It is extremely interesting that for such a small island, an extremely bloated Telecom service, that the Government, Police, Military, Hospitals and other vital links seem to have so many problems throughout the whole year that it consumes all of Telecom's service personnel. In former paying jobs, sitting in the next office to Telecom, it would take definately more than 3 days before a Telecom person would come by and see what was the problem.]

[Competition may not be the solution for Tonga's telecommunications' difficulties, but in this case I definately cannot agree with the saying "better the devil you know, than the devil you don't." How much worse can it get? Relatives in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Hawai'i, the UK don't seem to have these difficulties with their telephones. Of course they have to get up early and in the cold to get to work, but that is another matter.

88.8FM the 4th radio broadcaster

Broadcasting from the Ramanlal Hotel, after earlier stints as a Pirate broadaster in 1997. The radio splashed onto the scene with official opening by the Prime Minister, speeches and stuff. The station broadcasts on 88.8FM from a studio behind the Pacific Royale (Ramanlal) Hotel. The station is owned by Joseph and Soane Ramanlal and operates with six staff.

More than a gentlemanly argument

The Minister of Police was in a heated rage during his court case against 'Akilisi Pohiva on Thursday 1th of March. After completing his statements against the defence, the Minister of Police continually interjected as the accussed presented his side. The defendant asked the Magistrate to order the Minister to silence of remove him at which point the Minister was angered further and the court was moved to a closed session.

Those outside the court could clearly hear the raised voice of the Minister raining rebukes and unpleasentries on the defendant including statements of intended bodily harm. The defendant was overheard calling for the Minister of Police's staff to restrain him at which point it seems the argument stilled down.

Title

New Zealand - Pacific Island Festival

The annual New Zealand festival celebrating diversity and Pacific cultures again involved competitions on Tongan dance forms which this year was judged by Prof. Futa Helu, Taniela Moala, and Paluvava'u Tuita Cousins.

McAuley High School came away winners of the competition, while Auckland Girls Grammar 2nd, 'Otahuhu College 3rd, Aorere College, Tamaki equal 4th, and St. Paul's College took up 5th.

As with most events bringing together a large number of students, there were smiles abound. Students dressed to the hill in their dance costumes and generally like to look smart in their school univorms when they weren't performing. A good thing about dancing, it works best when your smiling, so there is always a group willing to have their photographs taken.

News Shorts

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Monthlies

[ref: http://www.tongatapu.net.to]
Tonga on the 'NET

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http://www.tonic.to easily the Tonic.to Domain Name headaches.]