It's no surpise the departing attorney general of Tonga has accused the government of interfering with the judiciary and meddling in a way that is unconstitutional by deciding to abolish the Judicial Services Commission and to repeal the Judicial Services Commission Act.
JohnnCauchi is right to blow the whistle on the government of Dr Feleti Sevele because Tongan citizens (in and out of the country) have been concerned about it overstepping the boundaries since the 2006 riots.
Like the illegal government of Fiji, the Tongan government used the Public Emergency Regulations to control its citizens and while there was some justification after the riots that destroyed the CBD, the PER has become a means to an end.
Cauchi has done the country and the region a service by going public with his fears the government is getting out of hand, just as Fiji's regime has done for the past three years.
He told media this week: "This to me is the final unconstitutional step required by the government to destroy the integrity and the independence of the Judiciary in Tonga. It's a very serious move and I don't believe that the government understands how serious it is. It guarantees the future selection of a judiciary, which is not independent, and I can't emphasise how serious this mistake is and there appears to be no opposition to this breach of constitutional principles. There are more than one person sitting in Cabinet and in Privy Council. They can't just sit there and allow this to happen."
Cauchi rightly pointed out that in Fiji the military regime threw out their constitution to destroy the integrity and the independence of their judiciary, "this is why Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth. If Tonga can't see that, I can't help. I can't stay any longer and bash my head up against the wall and pretend that nothing is going wrong. It is wrong and it is serious."
The Australian has been to see that the Felecti government is following Voreqe Bainimarama's methods by undermining the judicaiy. Said Cauchi: "The first direct appointment of a judge by the executive government without the recommendation of the Attorney General or the Judicial Services Commission. This does not comply with acceptable Constitutional practice and compromises the integrity of the Judiciary in Tonga;
"The decision by the Cabinet "not to support" the appointment of independent prosecutors to prosecute matters regarding the sinking of the MV Ashika, on the spurious grounds of the lack of funding. . . .
"Anyway, the following day that decision was made we received letters from the Ministry of Finance confirming our budget, which included the cost of these special prosecutors and also an independent investigator. The cost for the special prosecutor went through the Expenditure Review Committee and met all budgetary requirements and then it went into the Ministry and it was approved and we have the letter to prove that."
Cauchi also blew the whistle on a decision by the Cabinet not to support the appointment of independent prosecutors was a terrible injustice to the people who died in Ashika. "They look for justice to be done and Tonga has turned a corner that is seriously at risk."
The neighbours of Tonga and Fiji had best wake up to the concerns that leaders like Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Toke Talagi of Samoa and Niue have noted. We have cause to worry.