Grassroots focus for Tonga election candidate
In November voters in Tonga go to the polls to elect their second parliament under reforms from 2008 which ushered in a greater degree of democracy.
In November voters in Tonga go to the polls to elect their second parliament under reforms in which ushered in a greater degree of democracy.
One man, who unsuccessfully contested last time, in 2010, Sione Fonua, plans to run again with others in the small Langafonua Tu'uloa Party.
But he told Don Wiseman that he will take a different tack this time.
SIONE FONUA: I will have to reach the grassroots of the electorate, that is Tongatapu, number two, and I will have to talk to them and then we communicate so that they will know me better.
DON WISEMAN: Can you do that through village meetings or will it be a case of lots of door knocking?
SF: It will be a lot of door knocking, there will be a council meeting which is the kava drinking for males. But I'm quite interested in actually reaching women and young people.
DW: Tonga has had a tough four years since the first election under the new system, what is it that you would go to these people and say you can do better than anyone else?
SF: I think the main thing is the policies and having the ability.
DW: But what are those polices? What is it?
SF: The policies are the economic policies such as looking at tourism, I think that's one thing.
DW: But what would you do that would be different?
SF: The first thing that we will have to do is to prepare Tonga. In other words we're doing our homework, we will make our place beautiful and clean and we also have to look at infrastructure, improving that to make sure the quality of the accommodation is up to a standard that is acceptable. Second, that the last stage then is to advertise Tonga to the international market.
DW: As I say it's been a tough four years for Tonga, there was a lot of debt previously but there's more now. How do you think the country can solve those debt issues?
SF: That is a very difficult situation and you most probably know that our budget is relying heavily on foreign aid. So we will have to put the policies in place that we are working our way out of that situation. It takes quite a while to get there but at least if you put the foundation in place and work your way and set your target then you will work towards improving your economic situation so that you can be relying on your own feet and this is the way to do it as I was explaining earlier, the easiest way and the most viable and practical way is the tourism. I think that is the best industry that we can revive our economy on that. Then we will look at the agriculture and fisheries. They are the three main industries that we think Tonga can trade it's way out of foreign aid.
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