9 Apr 2008

Veteran Tonga politician says government's latest move is to stop criticism

12:03 pm on 9 April 2008

A veteran Tonga politician says the latest restrictions on the media are an attempt by the Government to stop criticism.

The Tonga Broadcasting Commission has sidelined staff and says political programmes ahead of the election in two weeks will instead be vetted by its board, headed by the Prime Minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, and management.

The TBC says the changes are about accuracy, balance and the right of reply.

But former Police Minister and one of the People's Representatives, Clive Edwards, says the advice he has been given is, don't say anything negative about the Government.

"Just come and say something to the people. Don't mention anything about the Government or anything. I don't want to appear on the television or be broadcast on the radio if I can't say anything to the people. I would rather not come than to come there and appear as a dummy on the programme because I have been restricted by Government."