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Press Club for Tongan journalists launched
11:00 pm GMT+12, 27/07/2020, Tonga

A press club for journalists, formed by the new Media Association of Tonga (MAT) was launched last Friday, 24 July.
 
The launch was attended by guest of honour Australia High Commissioner Adrian Morrison, with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Fakafanua, and Chinese Ambassador Cao Xiolin.
 
Media Association of Tonga (MAT) President, Taina Kami Enoka said the press club aimed to provide a forum where speakers are invited to present on prominent national issues.
 
Guest speakers, Tonga Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Tevita Vailea and Women Children’s Crisis Centre’s Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki spoke on domestic violence, drugs and the crime rate.
 
The event supported by the Australian-funded Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS), will be held again in September and November.
 
“A media handbook on reporting in Parliament authored by former journalist Dr Sione Vikilani and Deputy Clerk for the Legislative Assembly will be launched,” said Kami Enoka.
 
MAT was formed earlier this year with the aim to protect media freedom, and provide a platform where journalists or anyone working for the media can share information and news.
 
Taina said MAT also aimed to bring the media closer together.
 
It also includes people in a range of other interest groups who seek to influence the media.
 
“We have a few active members who don't work in news rooms, but keep us updated with the press conferences, press releases and any media related issue of concern. They play an important part in the association, especially since COVID-19.”
 
MAT is also promoting journalism as a choice of study and career.
 
Office bearers for MAT include:
 
* President - Taina Kami Enoka
* Vice President - Heti Fifita Lui
*Secretary - Tevita Fa'uhiva
*Treasurer - 'Anasiu Falekāono
*Assistant Treasurer - Kalolaine Moli
 
Meanwhile, contrary to this initiative to protect Press Freedom, the government on 21 May 2020 introduced the harsh Communications (Infringement Notice Regime) Declaration 2020. It was gazetted as a Regulation so it did not have to go through parliamentary approval.
 
Under this Infringement Notice Regime, infringement notices may be issued to perceived “offenders”, who must pay the penalties outlined below.
 
Unfortunately, what government decides to call “Unlawful Sensitive Information”, could also be interpreted as an infringement of Clause 7 of the Constitution, “Freedom of the Press”.
 
*Section 24 – Unlawful publication of sensitive information $2000
 
*Section 30 – Supply of communications services without authorisation $2000
 
*Section 35 – Non-compliance with licence conditions $2000
 
*Section 36 – Provision of false or misleading information $4000
 
*Section 43 – Provision of false and misleading information $4000
 
*Section 105 – Unlawful supply of content application services $2000
 
*Section 156 – Accidental damage to communications facilities $1000
 
*Section 159 – General penalty $2000
 
*Section 169 – Unlawful disclosure $2000.

SOURCE: TONGA WIRES/PACNEWS
 


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