11 May 2004

Tongan King defended in media row allegation

3:43 pm on 11 May 2004

The owner of an independent paper in Tonga has hit out at the description of the king as a global predators of press freedom.

Last week, the Paris-based monitoring group Reporters Sans Frontiers named King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV a predator in a new 48-page book.

But Filo Akau'ola, who runs the Talaki newspaper and used to work on the Aucklalnd-based Taimi o Tonga, says the group is wrong.

Mr Akau'ola says the King has nothing to do with restrictions on press freedom.

He says it is the Cabinet and his advisers that are the problem.

"I believe we have to look at the first step. It's very important. We don't look at the final steps, we have to look at where we are going from here. If we go wrong at the first step we will go wrong at the final step."

Mr Akau'ola says the king is 84 years old and a lot of pressure is put on him to make decisions that advisers think are right.

He says a person's grandfather would probably say yes to their grandchildren if they recommended something they said was good.