Lord Ma’afu, one of the more experienced and prominent nobles elected to the 2015-2018 Parliament, is looking forward for a Representative-led Cabinet.
Speaking to the Tonga Herald at the lobby of Nuku ‘alofa Club, an hour after casting his vote on the Nobles’ elections, Ma‘afu says “I cannot say for all of them, but I think we, the Nobles, would like to see a Representative take the lead and charge government.”
“A Representative as Prime Minister is highly achievable!”
“For us nobles, we should have a more reserved approach and support whatever Prime Minister the Representatives elect.”
“And as I have said before, as in the previous elections (in 2010), the nobles are there to support government.”
A Representative-led Cabinet—even a Representative as Prime Minister—allows for more ‘popularized’ setting of the national agenda and government’s policy priorities.
Which is unlikely to change given the unique strategic, political, fiscal, and developmental situation Tonga is in at the moment. Especially the elusive area of foreign policy, which has not comprehensively been debated properly.
However, popular names for Prime Ministership from the Representatives are PTOA Party Chair ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu, and even Lord Vaea.
But Pohiva seems the front-running candidate.
“What I would like to push for support though, is that we seriously turn our attention immediately to the economy, because it’ll be all down to what’s important-bread at the table, and families need that!” says Ma‘afu.
As for popularization of the Nobles MPs, and have Nobles elected by popular vote, Ma‘afu simply says, “I have no qualms with that! But the welfare of the people and the kainga is what’s important.”
“We, the Nobles, are sanctioned ‘Representatives’ ourselves. We represent the kainga. But I don’t mind,” he told Tonga Herald.
However, ‘The Party’ (PTOA), campaigned for more structural changes to the political system (by further amendments to the Constitution), defining that as ‘fixing the economy’.
Ma‘afu says if there’s anything he doesn’t support, its ‘too frequent amendments to the Constitution.’
“Constitutions are not supposed to be too easy to change. It makes one feel really uneasy to know that the Constitution would be changed over and over easily!”
“A two-thirds majority should be the benchmark for the House to amend the Constitution!”
It seems the only thing standing in Pohiva’s way for Prime Ministership, in terms of Ma’afu’s vote, is to stay away from political reforms (which is the premise of the Team PTOA’s bid for the popular votes in the elections), and focus on some good, real, and forward looking economic policies.
That to be achieved will be down to the new ilk of Representatives’ ability to negotiate with, and trust in, each other.