18 Jun 2010

Tonga democracy MP on the mat over source of funding for Palace makeover

4:16 pm on 18 June 2010

Tongan pro-democracy MP, Akilisi Pohiva, is facing a parliamentary disciplinary committee, after the Government disputed claims he made over funding for extensions to the Palace in Nuku'alofa.

Mr Pohiva had claimed in Parliament that the money, estimated to be about six million US dollars, would be taken from Chinese aid funding for the rebuilding of the capital after riots four years ago.

But this has been angrily rejected by the Government which set up the disciplinary committee.

Our correspondent in Tonga, Mateni Tapueluelu, says Mr Pohiva faces a possible month-long suspension from parliament, but he expects to be exonerated.

"He is very confident. He has given the Speaker of Parliament evidence that would support his statement that such a press release came from the Office of the Lord Chamberlain. And he believes this is a waste of time and money since people in the disciplinary committee will be paid, but that is yet to be seen."