Sione Sangster Saulala

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Sione Sangster Saulala (born 9 April 1974[1]) is a Tongan broadcaster and politician and member of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga. He is a member of the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands.

Personal background[edit]

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, Politics and Business Management from the University of the South Pacific, and a Diploma in Education from the Tonga Teaching Training College.[1]

Saulala is the manager of the Oceania Broadcasting Network and editor of the Tonga Star. In 2003, he was one of five people prosecuted for contempt of court for a television broadcast discussion the government's suppression of the Times of Tonga newspaper.[2] In 2007 he was charged with sedition and riotous assembly over the 2006 Nuku'alofa riots, but the charges were later dismissed.[3]

In 2007 Saulala served as chair of the Tonga Rugby Union.[4] He was re-elected in 2009 but his election was disputed.[4][5]

Political career[edit]

He contested the 2005 elections, standing in Vava'u, and the 2008 elections, standing in Tongatapu,[6] but was unsuccessful. He was elected to the seat of Tongatapu 7 in the 2010 elections.[7]

In October 2011, he introduced a controversial Arms and Ammunitions (Amendment) Bill to Parliament as a private member's bill. The aim of the bill was to reduce the maximum sentence for unlicensed possession, use or carrying of a firearm, from five years to one year and/or to a fine. Saulala explained that he was introducing the bill so as to "rationalise" and "humanise" the Arms and Ammunition Act 1968, at the request of his constituents who owned and used small firearms "for the familiar chores of shooting pigs and shooting chickens". The leader of the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands, MP ʻAkilisi Pohiva, expressed surprise at the bill being submitted by a member of his party without the party caucus having been at all consulted. He expressed the view that, had it been discussed by the party, it would probably have been rejected without ever reaching the floor of the Assembly. Lord Tuʻihaʻateiho, a representative of the nobility from Haʻapai, was quoted by the Taimi Media Network as pointing out that, under the amendment, persons convicted of unlicensed possession of firearms would no longer lose the right to hold government office, including a seat in Parliament. The TMN argued that "therein lay the real reason for the Bill", as two representatives of the nobility (Lord Tuʻilakepa, and Lord Tuʻihaʻateiho himself[8]) in Parliament were awaiting trial on precisely that charge.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Sione Sangster Saulala", Parliament of Tonga
  2. ^ "Five people in Tonga charged with contempt of court". Radio New Zealand International. 2003-04-03. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  3. ^ "Tonga's judiciary described as independent". Radio New Zealand International. 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  4. ^ a b "New appointment to Tonga's Rugby Union Board challenged in court". Radio New Zealand International. 2009-02-10. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  5. ^ "Tonga rugby dispute engulfs PM". Radio New Zealand International. 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  6. ^ "Two candidates running in Tonga's election in April appear in court". Radio New Zealand International. 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  7. ^ "First election results". MantangiTonga. 2010-11-25. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  8. ^ "Tonga democrats hope King will veto bill reducing illegal gun penalties", Radio New Zealand International, 2 December 2011
  9. ^ "Democracy at Work? Part II", Lopeti Senituli, Taimi Media Network, 17 November 2011