8 Aug 2007

Appeal over sacking in Tonga of outspoken public servant

10:45 am on 8 August 2007

The secretary-general of Tonga's Public Service Association, Mele 'Amanaki, is appealing her dismissal from a public service job at the Ministry of Agriculture.

She was informed that she had been sacked for breaching the public service code of conduct by allegedly being involved in political activities.

Ms 'Amanaki says all she did was submit a petition from the PSA calling on the government to honour its commitment to public servants over pay and conditions, and send in a survey of the thoughts of PSA members on the situation.

She says the directive for her sacking came from the prime minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, who is also the acting Minister of Agriculture and the chair of cabinet.

Ms 'Amanaki says she is not hopeful that cabinet will overturn the PSC decision because Dr Sevele initiated the allegations.

"If my appeal to cabinet is not forthcoming which I don't think it will because the person who had initiated the allegation is the prime minister and the chair of cabinet. It's ironic because I am appealing to him. If my appeal is not forthcoming, then I can sue the government in the Supreme Court."

Mele 'Amanaki says her sacking by the Public Service Commission is an attempt by the government to intimidate and frighten the PSA executive and its members.