27 Feb 2003

Tongan newspaper publisher reacts to government ban on paper's importation ban

11:37 am on 27 February 2003

The publisher of the Taimi O Tonga newspaper, which has just been banned from Tonga, says staff are already being laid off.

The Auckland published paper is the only independent media in Tonga, and Kalafi Moala says the Government's banning of the importing of the paper into the country, is a further sign it cannot handle criticism and dissent.

He says it is the most serious problem to confront the paper in 14 years.

Mr Moala says while they have been sued numerous times, jailed on one occasion, and had had their licence withdrawn for a week, they managed to keep publishing.

"But this one is the prohibition of importing of the paper into Tonga and so this is quite serious. We've got the sales of the paper as well, the advertising revenue and quite a lot of workers and staff in Tonga. They've got to be laid off immediately"