18 May 2004

Tongan pro-democracy MPs reject criticism in airline demise

3:20 pm on 18 May 2004

The seven Peoples' Representatives in Tonga have hit back at the Police Minister's statements that they contributed to the downfall of Royal Tongan Airlines.

Clive Edwards said the members had allowed the decline in the airline by voting not to give it further public funds in 2002.

However in a statement the seven say Mr Edwards is less honourable with the truth.

They say their fears have now proven correct and further funding for RTA was simply throwing good money after bad.

The members say it was simple primary school arithmetic that the country would lose millions of dollars in the RTA/Brunei deal and it would be foolhardy to give it more funds.

Despite this the representatives say the Minister and his Cabinet colleagues thought otherwise and voted accordingly.

The representatives also pointed out that two nobles had also voted against the funding.

RTA returned the plane it had been leasing off Royal Brunei last month because of financial difficulties.