21 Oct 2002

Tonga's nine elected MPs storm out of Parliament in protest

5:05 pm on 21 October 2002

All nine of Tonga's elected MPs stormed out of Parliament today, in protest at a series of private members bills being tossed out by the appointed majority.

Dr Fred Sevele, one of the elected MPs, and a member of the pro-democracy movement, says none of the bills progressed beyond the first reading, which is unusual in Tonga.

He says included among the measures were changes to make defamation a civil offence only, and another broadening the opportunities under which ordinary citizens could sue.

Dr Sevele says the appointed members of the Parliament should not be so bloody minded because elected MPs represent ninety nine point nine percent of the country.

"and you've got government ministers and governors appointed by His Majesty and you've got nine nobles elected by the 29 or 30 noble title holders,...and are just not giving any consideration in my view to some of the things that we as people's representatives put up"