Sunday, May 13, 2018


I do not share Simon Bridges' concern over the increased package of aid to pacific countries announced this week.   This is our backyard and this is where our focus should and must be.

The reality is that there is an aid gap and the Chinese government is ready, willing and able to to step up to the plate in return for .... you tell me.   

They've been quietly (and not so quietly) buying up influence in the region for the last couple of decades and we let that continue unchecked at our peril.   In that context it is heartening to see the Australian government and the EU signal their preparedness to do more because more is needed.

Like it or not we're players in an aid war where recipients can become the equivalent of  'rice Christians' ... countries prepared to play off one side off against the other in return for ever more aid. Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, the Samoan Prime Minister said as much earlier this week.    The trick for the NZL government is to ensure our aid monies is directed at enhancing the living standards of ordinary people and not on political vanity projects (or politician's pockets).  

I suspect I'm telling MFAT what they already know in spades when I say that any aid provided to Tonga requires special scrutiny.    Tonga remains a feudal kingdom beset by endemic corruption.   It is a parliamentary democracy in name only.    The real power is in the hands of Tonga's 33 'noble' families who control the land leases and a Privy Council who does the King's bidding. 


Anonymous said...

Tonga has a $200 million dollar loan (due last October) from China that I suspect we will now be repaying. The diplomatic blackmail would have gone something like..
We have to repay China but have no money. We will have to give them an Island for a Naval base. Chinese Naval base or aid to pay of a debt?
Will we offered the same terms as the Chinese?

The Veteran said...

Anon 1.55 ... In 2011 Tonga was placed behind Indonesia and Mexico in the World Corruption Perception Index. Since 2012 it has been excluded from the list because of a lack of 'meaningful' data ... tells you something.

China is quite happy to 'forgive' loans in return for ... Lolo 'a Halaevalu in the Vava'u Group would make a cracker naval base.