14 August 2020 The amendment of the Communication Act 2015 known as the Communications (Infringement Notice Regime) Declaration 2020 was heavily criticised by some of the PTOA’s MPs throughout their public radio program.
MP Mateni Tapueluelu of TT4 criticised the Government’s regulation particularly by claiming that this regulation enacted a range of offences that will impose fines on media and the poor people believed to be a violation of the freedom of speech.
MP Tapueluelu claimed that the wording of the offences are very aggressive and it will come to a stage that it will tie the whistleblowers and the conscious people who wanted to post government’s information and that could allow corruption to grow at its best in Tonga.
MP Siaosi Pohiva of TT1 stated that media is the heart of any democratic government. What this government did with this regulation is stabbing the heart of democracy, which causes the body to ruthlessly jump for survival.
MP Pohiva believed that this is the most dangerous thing that this Government did in stabbing the heart of democracy (freedom of speech) especially the poor people. He claimed that this particular regulation was made with the wrong intention and poor people should shake it off.
MP Mo’ale Finau of HP12 compared the Government’s regulation with the clause 7 of the constitution by saying that this is the only freedom of speech that the poor people are living with. Any enacted regulation should carryout the intent of the main legislation or law.
MP Finau claimed that 90 to 95 per cent of the regulation is not relevant to the main legislation (clause 7 of the constitution). Therefore, corruption is in its best in this piece of regulation and nothing can compromise it.
“I have no trust in this Government as their mindset is without love, un-Godly manners and it will create the worst when they violate the freedom of speech…,” said Moale Finau.
MP Penisimani Fifita of TT9 claimed that the amounts of fines for these offences are tied together the hands of people for their freedom of speech to speak, write and print…”
What happens in the Communications (Infringement Notice Regime) Declaration 2020?
The Communications (Infringement Notice Regime) Declaration 2020 is only an amended of the Communication Act 2015 that was assented by His Majesty King Tupou V1, on the 18th of February 2016.
The Communication Acts 2015 consist of 189 clauses throughout 107 pages of legislation. All of the offences and fines that worried the PTOA MPs such as the sensitive information were legally bound with this act but with an excessive amount of fines;
- Section 24 – Unlawful publication of sensitive information; ($10,000)
- Section 30 – Supply of communications services without authorisation; ($10,000)
- Section 35 – Non-compliance with licence conditions; ($10,000)
- Section 36 – Provision of false or misleading information ($20,000)
- Section 43 – Provision of false and misleading information ($20,000)
- Section 105 – Unlawful supply of content applications services ($10,000)
- Section 156 – Accidental damage to communication facilities; ($5,000)
- Section 159 – General penalty; and ($10,000)
- Section 169 – Unlawful disclosure ($10,000)
The amendment of the Communications (Infringement Notice Regime) Declaration 2020 by the Minister of MEIDECC Hon Poasi Tei and this Government were mostly reducing the excessive fines of the Communication Act 2015 into a lesser penalty;
- Section 24 – Unlawful publication of sensitive information $2000
- Section 30 – Supply of communications services without authorisation $2000
- Section 35 – Non-compliance with licence conditions $2000
- Section 36 – Provision of false or misleading information $4000
- Section 43 – Provision of false and misleading information $4000
- Section 105 – Unlawful supply of content application services $2000
- Section 156 – Accidental damage to communications facilities $1000
- Section 159 – General penalty $2000
- Section 169 – Unlawful disclosure $2000
N.B: You can checkout the legislation through government website:https://ago.gov.to/cms/
Does this Government violate the freedom of speech and the freedom of print by lessen the amount of fines for those offences?
The answer is no, the amended regulation is helping the media and the poor people in executing of lesser fines.
I may argue that if the Communication Act 2015 claimed to be violated the freedom of speech then it is a different issue to discuss. For instance, we should ask the question of which government enacted this regulation or law in 2015? Why the media and members of Parliament did not raise their concerns about the freedom of speech back in 2015 when Parliament discusses this legislation?
The year 2015 is the beginning of the PTOA Regime and I do not understand whether these PTOA MPs who came out today and criticised this piece of legislation are overlooking the facts of what happened back in 2015 or are they trying to mislead the people with misinformation. It seems that political manipulation of poor people for a political gain is totally different from trying to enlighten the people with the TRUTH.
It is in fact that we are all believing in the ‘freedom of speech’ and no Government should allow violating the freedom of speech in that context.
Freedom of speech can define as the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, by any means.
That freedom of speech is clearly stated in clause 7(1) of the Tonga’s constitution.
Clause 7(1) It shall be lawful for all people to speak, write and print their opinions and no law shall ever enacted to restrict this liberty forever… but nothing in this clause shall be held to outweigh the law of defamation, official secrets or the laws for the protection of the King and the Royal Family. [This clause was amended by Act 23 of 1990]
Sub-clause (2) allowed enacting such laws that are considered necessary or expedient in the public interest, national security, public order, morality, cultural traditions of the Kingdom and so on. [Inserted by Act 17 of 2003]
Sub-clause (3) stated that it shall be lawful to enact laws to regulate the operation of any media. [Inserted by Act 17 of 2003]
It is a matter of fact that any Government has an obligation to prohibit hate speech and incitement (morality), protect the national security, public order, and public interests by enacting regulations or laws which allowed by sub-clause (2) and (3).
Therefore, the amendment of the regulation itself is not a violation of the freedom of speech but it is a adjusted of the amount of fines into a lesser degree.
Overall, the PTOA MPs owe the public an apology for misled them with this amended regulation should they truly believe the principles of democracy such as transparency and accountability.
TAKIHALA’I ‘EHE KAU FAKAFOFONGA FALEALEA PTOA E KAKAI FONUA FEKAU’AKI MOE TU’UTU’UNI (FOUNGA NGAUE KI HE NGAAHI FAKAHA ‘OHA MAUMAU) KI HE NGAAHI FETU’UTAKI 2020
‘I he kolomu ‘Etita ni ‘oku ou faka’amu keu talanoa ki he ‘isiu mahu’inga kuo ‘ohake he ngaluope fekau’aki moe tau’ataina mitia moe kakai e fonua kenau lea, tohi mo pulusi ‘aia kuo tukuaki’i ai ‘ehe ni’ihi ‘o e kau Fakafofonga Falealea e PTOA ‘a e Pule’anga lolotonga ‘oku nau fa’u ‘a e tu’utu’uni ngaue fo’ou kene fakapopula’i ‘a e ngaahi mitia moe kakai e fonua. Koe ‘isiu pelepelengesi ‘eni (Tau’ataina ke Lea) koe ‘uhi he ‘oku kaungatonu ‘eni pea moe tu’utu’uni e konisitutone ‘i he kupu 7(1) ‘Oku ngofua ki he kakai kotoa pe ke lea ‘aki mo tohi mo pulusi ‘a e anga ‘o honau loto mo ‘enau fakakaukau pea ‘e ‘ikai fokotu’u ha lao ke tapu ia ‘o lauikuonga. ‘E ‘ata ‘o ta’engata ‘a e lea moe nusipepa ka ‘oku ‘ikai ke ta’ofi ‘i he tohi ni ‘a e ngaahi lao ‘oku kau ki he lau’ikovi’i, ngaahi fakapulipuli fakapule’anga moe ngaahi lao ‘oku malu’i ‘a ‘Ene ‘Afio mo hono Fale ‘Alo.
Na’e fakaha ‘e Mateni Tapueluelu ‘oku kaunga e tu’utu’uni ngaue Pule’anga ni ki hono ta ‘oe ngaahi tefito’i totonu e Tonga ke lea. ‘Oku nono’o heni e kau whistleblowers pea koe konga kelekele ia ke ma’ui’ui ai e faihala. Pea koe ngaahi lea (pe fakalea e lao) ‘oku fu’u a’ua’u hono fakalea pea ‘e a’u ia ki ha tu’unga tene nono’o e kau whistleblowers pea tene nono’o ‘eia moha taha pe ‘oku konisenisi mo’ui kene tuku ha fakamatala kitu’a.
Na’e fakaha’e Siaosi Pohiva koe taha e mafu tefua ‘o e Pule’anga fakatemokalati ‘a e mitia. Pea koe ngaue ko ‘eni ‘oku fai ‘e he Pule’anga ‘oku nau ala kinautolu ia ‘o hoka’i e mafu tefua ‘o e tui fakatemokalati pea koe hoka’i e mafu e tui fakatemokalati, kuo pau ke fute ‘a e sino ia koia ke mo’ui. Pea kou tui au koe taha ‘eni ‘a e me’a fakatu’utamaki taha ke ala kiai ha Pule’anga kenau alasi ‘a e mafu ‘o e tui fakatemokalati. ‘Oku ou loto ke mahino ki he kakai e fonua hono alasi ko ‘eni totonu e tangata ke lea koe alasi ‘eni ia e masiva. Ka ‘iai ha lao ‘oku fa’u kene faka’atungia’i e Pule lelei pea koe fo’i kelekele lelei ia ke fakahoko ai e faihala. Pea ‘oku ou manavasi’i na’a ‘oku taumu’a e ngaahi tu’utu’uni ko ‘eni ke ma’ui’ui e kelekele e faihala he Pule ‘o e fonua. Koe me’a ia ‘oku tau tu’u ketau hanga ‘o malu’i.
Na’e fakaha ‘e Mo’ale Finau Koe tumutumu ‘eni ‘o e faihala pea ‘oku ‘ikai ke toe ‘iai hano compromise ‘ona ia e fo’i me’a ko ‘eni. Pea ‘oku ou kole fakamolemole pe au ia ki he Pule’anga ka ‘oku ‘osi mo’oni pe ‘eku falala ‘aku ia kapau koe anga ‘ena ‘enau mindset ‘oku faka’ulia pea ‘oku ta’e’ofa, ta’efaka’Otua pea tene hanga ‘eia ‘o fanau’i ‘a e kovi lahi ‘i hono to’o e tau’ataina e kakai. ‘Oku hange ‘oku ‘osi ai ‘eku toka’i mo ‘eku faka’apa’apa ‘i he ‘enau alasi e tau’ataina ‘o e lea. Koe talanoa ‘eni ki he me’a ‘oku ma’u ‘ehe tangata mo’ui ‘a si’ene lea, si’ene fakakaukau pea koe si’i koloa pe ia ‘a e masiva kuo tau ala tautolu ia kiai ‘o tau tatapuni.
Na’e fakaha ‘e Penisimani Fifita ko ‘ene fanongo koia ki he ngaahi tautea kuo ‘omai he Pule’anga ‘oku ne ha’iha’i ‘eia e nima ‘o e tau’ataina ki he kakai kenau lea mo tohi mo fakaha ‘enau fakakaukau. Koe kupu 7 moe 8 ‘oku tau’ataina ke ta’engata kae ‘oua pe ‘e lau’ikovi. ‘Aia koe me’a ia koe ketau ako’i kiai e kakai ke ‘oua e lau’ikovi’i pe tukuhifo ha taha kae ‘omai e fakakaukau he tee hanga ‘eia o langaki hake e tau’ataina moe fiefia e kakai. Ko hono fakangatangata pehe’i ‘oku hange leva hotau Pule’anga ia ‘otautolu ha Pule’anga Kominiusi pe Pule’anga ‘oku pule’i fakakautau. Koe pule’anga tau’ataina eni pea tuku ki he kakai kenau tau’ataina.
- Kupu 24 – Koe pulusi ta’efakalao ‘a e fakamatala pelepelengesi $2,000
- Kupu 30 – Koe fakahoko ‘o e ngaahi ngaue fetu’utaki ‘ikai ma’u ha fakangofua $2,000
- Kupu 35 – ‘Ikai ke faipau ki he ngaahi tu’unga laiseni $2,000
- Kupu 36 – Fakahoko ‘o e fakamatala ‘oku loi mo takihala $4,000
- Kupu 43 – Fakahoko ‘a e fakamatala ‘oku loi pe takihala $4,000
- Kupu 105 – Fakahoko ta’efakalao ‘a e ngaahi ngaue fakahoko kakano $2,000
- Kupu 156 – Maumau fakatu’upake ki he ngaahi naunau fetu’utaki $1,000
- Kupu 159 – Tautea fakalukufua $2,000
- Kupu 169 – Tuku atu ta’efakalao $2,000
Koe me’a na’e ‘ikai manatu’i ‘ehe kau Fakafofonga Falealea PTOA koe Lao ki he Ngaahi Fetu’utaki 2015 na’e ‘osi fa’o kotoa pe ‘i loto ia ‘a e ngaahi kupu ko ‘eni mo hono ngaahi fakataputapu moe tautea. Ka na’e $10,000 ‘o a’u ki he $20,000 ki he ki’i fo’i maumaulao he kupu kotoa pe. Ko e ngaahi fakamatala pelepelengesi na’e ‘osi ‘iai pe moia ka na’e tautea ia $10,000 ka pulusi ‘eha mitia pe taha e fakamatala pelepelengesi. Koe tu’utu’uni ngaue fo’ou ia ko eni koe me’a pe na’e liliu ai ko hono tukuhifo kotoa e ngaahi tautea pa’anga mei he $10,000 ki he taki $2,000 pe pea tukuhifo e mo’ua $20,000 ki he $4,000 pe.
‘I he vakai tau’ataina faka’etita ki he tu’utu’uni ngaue ko ‘eni, ‘oku ‘ikai ke hanga ‘e he Pule’anga ia ko ‘eni ‘o fakapopula’i ha mitia pe to’o ha tau’ataina ‘aha taha ke lea mo pulusi. ‘Oku tokoni e tu’utu’uni ngaue ia ko ‘eni ki he ngaahi mitia moe kakai e fonua ‘aki hono fakasi’isi’i e ngaahi tautea. Kapau leva ‘oku pehe ‘eha ni’ihi ia ‘oku kei maumau’i pe ‘ehe Lao Fetu’utaki 2015 ia mo fakapopula’i e tau’ataina ke lea, tohi mo pulusi pea koe ha na’e ‘ikai ke fakahoko ai hono fakaanga’i he ngaahi mitia moe kau Fakafofonga Falealea ‘a e Pule’anga PTOA 2015 he ko kinautolu na’a nau fakapaasi e Lao ko ‘eni mo hono ngaahi fu’u tautea. ‘Oku ou tui na’e makatu’unga e fakaanga fefeka mo malohi e kau MPs PTOA ko ‘enau fakakaukau koe ngaahi tu’utu’uni ngaue ‘eni ‘a e Pule’anga ko ‘eni ka ‘okapau na’a nau manatu’i koe fa’u lao ‘eni na’e fakapaasi he taimi na’a nau Pule’anga ai he 2015 ‘oku ou tui ‘e kehe ‘enau fakamatala. Ka neongo ia kuo nau ‘osi takihala’i ‘ekinautolu e kakai e fonua pea ‘oku nau mo’ua ki he kakai kenau kole fakamolemole he takihala’i kinautolu ‘okapau ‘oku mo’oni ‘enau mahu’inga’ia he ‘ata kitu’a moe pule lelei pehe ki he ngaahi tui fakatemokalati.
©VPON Media 2020