22 Aug 2005

NZ MP expresses concern about role of Tongan Defence force in relation to strike

7:07 am on 22 August 2005

A New Zealand MP says there is concern over the possible use of the Tongan Defence Services in relation to the public servants strike in Tonga.

Matt Robson instigated a parliamentary committee on New Zealand's relationship with Tonga.

Mr Robson says the 400-person-strong Tongan Defence Service only answers to the King and the small group of people which he says runs Tonga.

"From what my Tongan contacts tell me, and various people, is that there would be a reluctance, from any of these soldiers, to be used against the people in a repressive way, but it doesn't mean that in the case of a growing tension, that there aren't people in the command of those forces, who possibly would misuse... I'm hoping that's not the case and so do other people."

Mr Robson says this fear is held by a number of people who've served in the Tongan military.