On March 9th, 2015, the former Minister of Justice, William Clive Edwards, wrote an open letter to the current Minister for Internal Affairs Hon. Sosefo Fe’ao Vakata. The Tongan language letter appeared on the Nepituno news website. In the public interest, an unofficial English translation of the letter is below.
I write this letter upon serious concerns and dissatisfaction about how you undertake your responsibility as member of Cabinet in the current administration. I believe that you are unfit to continue as a member of Cabinet in this country.
In the early part of last year, when you were still a member of the Cabinet of Tu‘ivakano, allegations emerged about you, which were very surprising for the members of Cabinet. It was completely unexpected that you would abuse your powers and show such corrupt behaviour. It is therefore questioned how you would still continue as a Minister of Government.
Therefore I put forward:
- I am about to submit a complaint to the Prime Minister recommending that you be immediately discharged from your duty as Minister and be investigated for taking for yourself monies from the Ministry of Public Enterprises. Consider that I already twice reported these concerns to Cabinet whilst a member, regarding you and your former CEO. Not only that, you had halted any more examination of issues related to Tonga Power, because of the illegal payouts you and the CEO had received from Tonga Power.
- That you had illegally exacted illegal arrears in the government’s Public Enterprises, such as the Board of FISA (Friendly Islands Shipping Agency). You took from it, on credit in your name, travel costs for persons from Niua with the intention that they vote for you. That incurred up to 70,000.00 in costs, and you came to me whilst I was Minister for Justice for help in how to clear that up. I told you to leave while I take a proper look into the matter, as I was completely surprised in your confession to me on this mistake. It was also surprising when it drew closer to the 2014 elections, all of a sudden the credit had been moved from your name to the Niua Council. It is clear to me that you had inside help in this, to hide your debt of up to $70,000.00. Therefore, there is no uncertainty in my beliefs that it is improper for a person of such a nature to be a Minister, whilst abusing public properties and monies. This is no small money, and I was bewildered when I learnt of it the moment you sought my help, which made me question your integrity and trustworthiness. I wonder how you and your helpers managed to hide this much money, when at the same time there has been great abuse and serious work is needed to address this issue.
- I had started to withdraw my trust in you when we were in the courts against Kele’a and Solomone Palu. The witnesses Sione Taione, ‘Isileli Pulu, and others, testified that you steal money and are unreliable. I then found out you had planned to travel and had taken the travel money but used it for other personal expences. When Treasury found out, you went and asked to pay it back incrementally. The court also revealed your lewd emails to a married woman, with whom you are alleged to have an affair with.
- That you took money illegally from the Poate ‘Uhila ‘a Tonga (Note: translation unclear: Electricity Board? Tonga Power?). We received a report from an independent auditor appointed by government, and it recommended that you be dismissed from your post as a Minister, and work be done regarding this. This report was received at the end of the previous administration’s term, and the 2014 elections were too close for any further work to be done. What is funny is that the person who made the report has now been appointed into the boards of the Public Enterprises. It might seems that is to shut that person up and not pursue.
- Attempted travel overseas- It was only a short while when you commenced work with your previous CEO, that you gave out directions to all the enterprises that board members are no longer allowed to undertake business travels without prior permission from you. After the direction was given out, you asked these boards that you take these trips, and the boards then had to organize your unceasing travels. You submitted these things to Cabinet and assured that government would not pay any of the costs of these travels, as they were fully paid from outside. The huge per diems you then received with your CEO was surprising and questionable, as they were more than the usual rates allowed for Ministers when they travel on government business.
- Useless and wasteful travel- I believe you can still recall your lies and improper statements to Cabinet to Lead the Trade Negotiation delegation from the Government of Tonga to Futuna and Uvea, and your ‘royal entourage’ on the MC Otumotu Anga’ofa. Your trip was nothing but a wasteful tour, on eating and drinks, and was no use for the Government, people, and the nation. You had no hesitation in the damage you were doing, and the wasting of the public’s efforts. This should also include your costly travel to the United States to discuss how coal could be used for power generation when it has nothing to do with our power generation at the moment, and the costs to having such a facility is several million. After you traveled to the US, you then went to Japan. There were also no returns on these initiatives to lower the power tariffs. Wave power has no part in our current power generation. Your trips to Singapore and Bangkok and other places had no real proper intentions, other than sightseeing and touring as you said to me “I don’t like living in Tonga but I better prefer a Ministry with a lot of travel so that I can travel a lot!” I believe that you and your then CEO were not aware that the World Bank recommended only approving three types of energy sources: 1. Fuel. 2. Wind. 3. Biomass. I believe your travels were very excessive, while taking massive per diems, and the taxpayers monies should be returned to the Treasury.
- Although Cabinet had approved your travels, it is brought up because it shows your level of conduct. Paras 5 and 6 above are not complaints, but are signs of how you are unfit for the job, corruption, and bad leadership. I will start with these, and I will submit to the Prime Minister to do something about it as he purports to uphold justice, good governance, and to end corruption in government. Public property and people are not secure in your methods.
William Clive Edwards
Cc. Prime Minister of Tonga