23 Jun 2003

Tongan newspaper publisher alleges campaign to remove chief justice

10:51 am on 23 June 2003

The publisher of the Auckland-based Taimi O Tonga newspaper, Kalafi Moala, has accused the Tonga Media Association, or TMA, of smear tactics in supporting the campaign for constitutional change.

Mr Moala says the TMA is turning a blind eye to corruption and endorsing a proposed constitutional change which would curtail media freedom and stop the courts from reviewing privy council decisions.

This comes after the TMA's President complained to the New Zealand Media Council about falsely depicting Tongan affairs and causing dissent among Tongans.

Mr Moala says the TMA is a tool dancing to the state's wishes and campaigning to have the chief justice removed after he lifted a ban on the Taimi.

"They have had that in the newspaper that they have published. They have had that on television. And over the last several weeks there have been constatnt articles in programmes on television attacking the chief justice. So this is not an allegation, it is something that is happening right now."