9 Apr 2010

Tonga Minister says tone of Ashika report misleading

4:27 pm on 9 April 2010

Tonga's government says the tone of a Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the sinking of the ferry Princess Ashika has misled the public.

The report on the sinking last August, in which 74 people were drowned, identified systemic and individual failings by those in authority in buying a boat that was clearly unseasworthy and allowing it to be used in Tongan waters.

The Minister for Information and Communication says the government fully endorses the report's recommendations and wants them addressed as soon as possible.

But Eseta Fusitu'a says the report's criticism of government procedure has damaged its public standing.

"At the end of the day the tone and the inference that the government of Tonga was not cooperating fully or may have even misled the Commission is a very, very serious inference. And I think it's most important to note that the government of Tonga changed the law of Tonga to elevate the level of inquiry from that of a magistrates court."

Eseta Fusitu'a of Tonga's government.