Supreme Court’s Ruling on
Tonga Broadcasting Commission Director’s Termination
Lord Chief Justice O. G. Paulsen’s ruling held that the Minister for Public Enterprises’s, Hon. Poasi Tei, decision to terminate Lady Dowager ‘Eseta Fusitu’a and Lady Dowager Tuna Fielakepa’s appointments as Directors for Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC) was not in accordance with the Public Enterprises Act (PEA), s 14(6) and s 14(7), in contrast, it was a pre-determined discretion to facilitate necessary reformation on the Boards of Directors (BOD) for Public Enterprises (PEs).
The evidences submitted included correspondences, Cabinet decisions and the Chief Executive Officer for Public Enterprise’s (CEO) affidavit. However, the Court opined the above evidences were not sufficient to prove the decision was based on the PEA, s 14(6) and s 14(7).
The Supreme Court (Court) pointed out a lack of evidence on the Sub-Committee to Cabinet’s proceedings determining the termination of the two (2) Directors from the BOD for TBC and any reports to Cabinet thereof. The Court further emphasized concern in an absence of an affidavit from the Minister supporting the ethos of Cabinet decisions and his discretion in terminating the two (2) TBC Directors.
The Minister did not submit an affidavit based on legal advice that the evidences submitted, including the CEO’s affidavit, were sufficient to prove the rationale of the decisions. The Courts decision was based on the submitted evidences acquired and reasonings in trial.
Presently, Cabinet has yet to confirm on a way-forward on the above. It is important to note that the Minister and Cabinet’s methodology were adopted with respect, good intentions and in the public’s interest. The decision implemented was not pleasant nor considered with ease, especially regarding our fellow countrymen, nevertheless, this is part of today’s Government’s motion at a greater Nation.
The PE BOD reforms continue in application to the Transport Sector, comprising of Tonga Airports Limited, Ports Authority Tonga and Friendly Islands Shipping Agency, to take effect on 01 May 2016. Subsequently, the PE reform shall apply to the Agriculture Sector, comprising of Tonga Market Ltd and Tonga Forest Product Ltd. The inclusion of Tonga Exports Quality Management Ltd has yet to be confirmed.
In addition to the financial increases the PE reform shall impose on PE revenue and dividends in the immediate future, the Utilities and Information & Technology Sector PEs have been co-operating successfully on non-financial priorities and shared specialties. Furthermore, the Ministry of Public Enterprises and its PEs are currently addressing other priorities (details shall be available at a later date), however, the following principle results are as follows:
Ministry of Public Enterprises,
P. O. Box. 19,
KINGDOM OF TONGA.
Telephone: (+676) 28-144 / 28-808
Fascimile: (+676) 24-598