31 Dec 2005

Tonga reform committee member sets date for outer island work

8:41 am on 31 December 2005

The vice-chairman of the Parliamentary National Committee for Political Reform in Tonga says the group will start canvassing peoples' opinions on reform in the outer islands by the end of January.

The Parliamentary committee was set up earlier this year in response to increasingly vocal calls for democratic change.

Dr Sitiveni Halapua says brochures on the process of kingdom-wide talanoa or talks on reform are bring distributed across the country and in communities in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

"While that work, particularly focussing on distribution of information is happening, the plan is for us to meet in Tonga most probably on the 16th of January to do some briefing and preparation before we travel throughout Tonga."

Dr Halapua says talanoa will also be held to involve overseas-based Tongans.

He says committees are always surrounded with uncertainty but he's confident his group's work won't be in vain.

One has to be optimistic. We cannot afford to sit back and throw our hands up and say - oh dear we can't do anything about this. We, as Tongans, have to work together and try to something about this because the Tongans have to be responsible. We cannot afford to let this situation spin out of control and expect foreigners to come and put our house together.