8 Oct 2003

Tongan MP says the Government has missed an opportunity after public voiced opposition to constituti

4:22 pm on 8 October 2003

A pro democracy MP in Tonga, Dr Fred Sevele, says it is a great pity that the Government has not taken any notice of the opposition to the planned constitutional changes.

Debate on the controversial amendments, which critics say will severely curb media freedom, is continuing ahead of the second reading.

Dr Sevele says most members will want to speak on the issue and he expects debate to continue into next week.

On Monday thousands marched in Nuku'Alofa and a petition was presented at the Legislature calling on the MPs to drop the amendments.

Dr Sevele says it was a signal that an enlightened Government would have embraced, and put the planned amendments in abeyance.

"if it appears as has been the case to be a lot of people against the changes, maybe, seek further views of the people, may be put it to a referendum...I myself sense that a referendum would not be on because because deep down I think most of the leaders think that a referendum would go against the changes"

Dr Fred Sevele.