11 Feb 2010

Tonga's former Transport Minister criticised

11:50 am on 11 February 2010

The former Transport Minister of Tonga has been criticised for mishandling his portfolio, in the leadup to the Princess Ashika ferry disaster.

A key witness has told a Royal Commission of inquiry into the ferry's sinking and the subsequent loss of 74 lives, that the former minister Paul Karalus was difficult to advise because he was too hands on.

Richard Pamatatau reports.

"The chief executive of the Transport Ministry Eleni Moni says Paul Karalus appeared to have things under control and gave her little information about the Princess Ashika. Eleni Moni says her first knowledge of the ferry was when the Shipping Corporation CEO went to look at it in Fiji. She says Mr Karalus often met with people without her. Ms Moni says Mr Karalus was happy with the ferry, as it was capable of reaching Tonga's most remote islands."