All passports accounted for

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 August, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 August, 1993, 12:00am

I REFER to an article based on the AFP Wire Service report which appeared on July 3, referring to an allegation made by Mr Akilisi Pohiva, People's Representative for Tongatapu, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga, that the office of the AuditorGeneral has complained that authorities in Tonga have lost control of a large stock of Tongan passports and that the proceeds therefrom are believed by him to amount to about US$100 million.

He says that official sources suggest that the passport selling business was again underway. Other issues purport to the failure of a certain Minister to give him satisfactory replies to questions raised by him on these passport matters.

I am pleased to take this opportunity to reply to his allegations which constitutes an official response from the Government of Tonga.

The department in my Ministry which controls passports has never received a complaint from the office of the Auditor General saying that we have lost control of a large stock of Tongan passports. We have accounted for all passports in our possession and the allegation that sales of such passports amount to US$100 million is a fabrication without any foundation whatever.

Gazetted auditor's reports for 1992 and 1993 have declared that all passports and fees accruing from their issuance have been found to be properly accounted for and I refer specifically to Tongan Protected Persons Passports and Ordinary Passports. This attempt to resurrect a matter dealt with by the Legislative Assembly two years ago can only be interpreted as a political ploy to embarrass the Government through allegations of corruption.

His reference to the control of Parliament (Legislative Assembly) by members of the Royal Family appointed by the Monarch is misinformation and not worthy of further comment. His calling for the impeachment of the Attorney-General is baseless.

His comments on what Mr George Chen has claimed and the matter of leased land is outside the purview of Immigration and requires no further comment from me other than to say that his quoted figure of 10,000 Chinese having been issued with passports is completely untrue. What Mr Pohiva has conveniently neglected to mention is that proceedings brought before Chief Justice Geoffrey Martin were dismissed.

In conclusion, Mr Pohiva's remarks that he has not received any satisfactory replies from Ministers of the Crown, is begging the question, for the matter was laid to rest two years ago and I, for my part, say that I have placed the matter in the hands ofthe Crown Law Office to advise on what steps may be taken to protect the good name of His Majesty's Government. Mr George Chen has the full confidence of the Government of Tonga and insinuations based on vindictiveness will not be tolerated.

AKAU'OLA Minister of Police Government of Tonga