3 Aug 2012

Ak Tongan leader criticises appointment of King's daughter to diplomatic job

10:42 am on 3 August 2012

A Tongan community leader says the appointment of the King of Tonga's daughter as high commissioner to Australia is a backward step for democracy in the kingdom.

Princess Latufuipeka Tuku'aho is Tonga's second high commissioner to Australia, taking over from her father who led the diplomatic mission in Canberra for four years as Crown Prince.

The Princess, who is 29, has Masters degrees in business and management, and studied in Geneva, but has no diplomatic experience.

The Auckland Tongan Advisory Council's chair, Melino Maka, says it looks like the Princess was appointed by the royal family, rather than by the government on merit.

"It signals a lot of concern for democracy and transparency and openness. The process should be a government appointment and this seems like we are going backwards to the old ways of making appointments by secrecy."

Tonga's deputy prime minister, Samiu Vaipulu says the King appointed the Princess under his constitutional powers, but she was also approved by Cabinet because of her qualifications.