3 Jul 2002

Director says familiar lack of transparency in Tongan Government actions

3:43 pm on 3 July 2002

The director of the Tongan Human Rights and Democracy Movement, Lopeti Senituli, says there is a familiar lack of transparency in the restructuring of Government owned Royal Tongan Airlines.

Mr Senituli says the Prime Minister, Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, last week wrote to the board of RTA, instructing them to resign.

And, he says the Prince's company, Shoreline, has expressed interest in the airline.

Mr Senituli says there is a familiar ring to the lack of information on what the Prime Minister's plans are.

"It is certainly in keeping with how statutory bodies and government partially- owned companies have been privatised in the recent past. For example the Tonga Electricity Power Board was taken over by the prince's company Shoreline without it being publicly advertised and the same has happened to the government's duty-free shops which is now owned by Her Royal Highness Princess Pilolevu, the prime minister's sister."

Lopeti Senituli says he hasn't been able to gain an explanation from the Prime Minister, who is currently out of the country.