The Final Analysis – truth, healing and restoration a new pathway for Tonga

Part 3 of Tonga's Political Analysis - Where are we going?


By Kalafi Moala


26 August 2020 – Let’s get one thing straight: the ship carrying democratic reform, as well as our beloved kingdom, has already left the port. It did so over ten years ago. And it’s not coming back. If there’s something wrong that needs to be fixed, we have to do it while the ship is sailing onward.

Democracy is not going to be reversed in Tonga. After becoming more democratic, we are not going to be less democratic just because the implementation did not work well. The 2010 reform was orchestrated by King George V, and widely supported by the people of Tonga. Democracy is quite imperfect as a governing structure, but as Winston Churchill said: “It is the best of all the other imperfect systems.”

There are definite corrective practical measures that need to be done as soon as possible. Committing social and moral violations that are left unchecked will have social and moral infections deadly to any society.

Firstly, we need to set a new direction for the ship. We were so preoccupied with who should be captain, first mate, and so on that we forgot to set the compass to direct us to where we are heading. In fact, we were not too sure where we were going.

As author Lewis Carroll said: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” And, unfortunately, that’s what we’ve been doing in the past several years. We’ve been trying out many roads but aimlessly ending up nowhere.

Secondly, we need to put a competent crew onboard; those who have integrity, and who know how to sail the ship, and to get her to where she is supposed to be going. We need a crew with strong character as much as the needed skills in getting the job done well.


Then thirdly, we need to remember that the ship we are on is not a “foreign ship” like the one Captain James Cook sailed to Tonga. It is a Tongan ship.  It is a super double-hulled canoe called a Kalia, Tongan built and flying a Tongan flag. We don’t need foreign solutions to fix our Tongan problems. We need Tongan solutions, the wisdom of our Pasifika people. We need to put on our Tongan thinking cap, and come up with our own creative ideas on how we should solve our problems.

The inscription on the side of the Kalia we are on is “God and Tonga are my Inheritance”.  We should be proud to be on this Kalia. It is our Kalia, and it is safer and more appropriate for us than a foreign vessel. Reaching the right destination is for us to determine. It is not to be determined by the United Nations, China, Australia, New Zealand, or anyone else of our so-called “development partners.”

So, let’s get down to work, and let’s get our direction right first.

Where are we going? Why are we going there? And how do we get there?

We cannot bury things alive

Burial is a practice carried out for the dead. Which is why we don’t bury people alive. If we bury things that are not dead, they have the tendency to pop up time and again. The problems we try to bury alive will become far more complex and will remain unresolved. We must bury our problems “dead.” In other words, let us identify them, take some responsibility, resolve them, and then put them to death.

In order for us to move forward in Tonga, we must uncover the injustices that have been committed against the people of Tonga, and deal with them appropriately. Most of these injustices are committed in the forms of corruption and abuse of authority. We cannot just ignore these things hoping they will go away by themselves.

There are many issues that continue to dog us on a day-to-day basis when they should have been dealt with some time ago. Our social problems of yesterday continue to be problems of today if they are not dealt with justly and restoratively.

When South Africa went through its reform under the able leadership of Nelson Mandela, they set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1995.  It was meant to uncover the truth about the violations that had occurred during the apartheid period. TRC was a court-like restorative justice body assembled to look into and give hearing to victims and witnesses who had suffered gross violations during the apartheid period.

They dealt not only with victims but also with people that came forward to confess to the truth of what they had done. Restorative justice was applied to both victims and perpetrators. Commitment to truth and reconciliation was what made all the difference. Healing and restoration took place. Both black and white became one, united in the mercy of God, because they were brave enough to face the truth!

We do need a TRC type enquiry to take place in Tonga so that issues of corruption and gross violations of law, as happened with the 16/11 attempted coup be brought to light. Only then can there be justice and mercy applied and we can bury these things “dead” while we move on to build up the country.

There is no true reconciliation and mercy without application of truth. Only in truth can we come to terms with what really happened in the past, and once we face the truth – we are able to humble ourselves and forgive, and be reconciled to each other. But truth cannot be applied without a forum where honesty can be demonstrated.

If no truth is applied, there can be no true humility, no justice, and therefore no mercy. The problems are often set aside alive and buried alive. They will continue to be problems from one generation to another.

Consider what is happening with the regular street fights among students of different schools. They started over 50 years ago and have never been resolved. The problem continues to this day, with worse impacts among those injured in those fights.

Looking back in order to go forward


If this Government is to be effective in implementing their policies, they need to have the political will and moral fortitude to deal with the problems of yesterday. They need to correct the many violations that were committed during the previous administration. The fact that those leading the current Government, including the Prime Minister, were prominent members of the Cabinet in the previous Government makes them the most appropriate leaders to fix the past.

They were part of those who approved so many questionable activities, including the building of the controversial Popua Park, the disruptive decisions and actions negatively effecting the sports sphere; and the passing of legislations for coercive control of media, the information and communications industry.

Truth Commissions of inquiries would need to be set up to deal with the major national issues that are holding us back from moving forward. We cannot build new houses on broken foundations. We cannot free the present and the future without reconciling the past. This Government must treat this as a priority.

We can no longer blame drugs and alcohol, mental illness and poverty, on our chronic problems. These things may influence the committing of crime, but at the end of the day, it is people who commit crimes.

We cannot drive our country forward until we fix the damages that have been done to it. There are leaders and prominent people in government and in businesses in our society that need to come forward and to admit to their participation in some of the most grossest activities of crime, corruption, and violation of maladministration that have left us hurt, dysfunctional, and aimless.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is what we need, and maybe we need to consider immunity to those who would be brave enough to step forward and accept responsibility for past infringements that have affected our country. Without this, we may not heal, and we may not be able to experience the spiritual and social reawakening that we need now so we can move ahead to be what God has called and intended for the Kingdom of Tonga to be. This is where our ship needs to set sail to in order for our country to get to where it is going.




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