10 Jan 2003

Tonga's King approves establishment of cigarette factory

11:25 am on 10 January 2003

Tonga's King Taufaahau Tupou 4th has over ruled his health officials and given approval to a Chinese businessman to build a cigarette factory in the kingdom.

The decision is not only in conflict with his officials, but contradicts the King's own recent health campaigns in which he had led exercises to control obesity and called for an end to tobacco and alcohol consumption.

However in a speech to his subjects over Christmas the King said that a cigarette making factory would help the economy by providing jobs.

The AFP agency reports that yesterday the King signed an approval for Mingen Tsay to build his plant on government owned land.

The agency says that Mingen Tsay purchased Tongan citizenship in the early 1990 in a controversial scheme later ruled by the courts to be unconstitutional.