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Tonga’s King announces nuclear energy as an option for Tonga

His Majesty King George Tupou V. (Photo by Tongan Minfo.)

Pacific Scoop:
Press Release – King Of Tonga, George Tupou V.

Editor’s Note: During His address from the throne at the official opening of Tonga’s Parliament, the King Of Tonga, King George Tupou V announced that his Government will be exploring nuclear energy as a means of generating electricity for up to 30 megawatts.

Pacific Scoop understands the announcement was a complete surprise for Tonga’s Members of Parliament and Tonga’s people. To follow is the King’s speech in full.

THE ADDRESS FROM THE THRONE
AT THE OPENING OF THE 2010 PARLIAMENT
(PARLIAMENT, 10TH JUNE 2010)

The global economic downturn continues to depress our economy, primarily through falling remittances leading to reduced income and growth. Although the International Monetary Fund is forecasting that the economy will return to growth in the coming fiscal year, despite the depressed state of some of the larger world economies, Government’s overriding priority is to ensure that the projected recovery is actually realized, through maintaining low inflation and sound public finances, and providing incentives through the tax system.

Government will continue to reform the tax system to make it fairer and simpler, to encourage savings and investment, to reward hard work, and to ensure compliance.

The strength of the financial sector is vital to the future vibrancy of the economy. The considerable increase in non-performing loans over the recent past and the resultant rises in interest rates and difficulties of accessing credit have had negative impacts on the economy. Therefore, legislation will continue to be taken forward to ensure fairer and more secure protection for bank depositors and borrowers, to improve prudential oversight and the resilience of the financial sector, and to improve and expand the insurance sector.

The high cost of imported fuels for transport and electricity generation remains a fundamental obstacle to improving standards of living and business profitability. The Government and its development partners through the Tonga Energy Road Map are addressing this problem by increasing energy efficiency, minimizing the costs of imported fuels, and investing in renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind.

Whilst these activities are being implemented, and should help our economy, nature is dictating that we must look to nuclear energy. Government is following the ongoing development work in the United States on nuclear plants of 30-megawatts, capable of producing electricity at a fraction of that generated from imported fuels. Should this development prove successful, it would be of enormous value in protecting our environment in reducing our use of diesel fuel.

Our main water source is underground which unfortunately has been polluted in recent years, with the increased use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides to boost our agricultural production. Government maintains that nuclear power is our best hope of resolving our water problem as we can produce abundant supplies through desalination very cheaply. The quicker we move in this direction the better.

We are fortunate with the peaceful progress of the political reforms as Parliament have agreed to retain our existing Constitution, with amendments, rather than formulating a new one. This reaffirms the inherent strength and balance of the founding principles upon which our Forefathers had framed the Constitution.

To maintain this balance, the number of Cabinet members will be restricted in such a manner that the Government should never be in a position to outvote, on their own, the Nobles’ and the People’s Representatives combined, but that the latter could outvote the Government. This is the way of ensuring that the Government has to work harder at finding a via media among the opinions of both sides of the House.

Government shall introduce a system of national Identity Cards for everyone 14 years of age and over living in the Kingdom. This will assist in bringing together into one registry, safely stored and maintained, all the personal details which are currently being collected by various government departments.

We wish to further entrench the protection of the Judiciary from Government, Parliament and all political threats through legal safeguards to ensure their independence and their unwavering and impartial commitment to upholding the rule of law. To this end, Government will introduce legislation to repeal the current provisions which grant Parliament the power to impeach Judges. In its place, Government will introduce constitutional provisions to establish the office of the Lord Chancellor, who will head and protect the judiciary.

The integrity and independence of the Judiciary is our treasured gift to our people. It is neither a privilege nor an award for the Judges because of their position, but rather an essential safeguard of individual liberty and for the impartial resolution of disputes, particularly those between the citizen and the Government or other institutions of the State.

GEORGE R.

5 comments:

  1. The guy, 14. June 2010, 16:30

    I think the author of this article needs to recheck his resources, cause that makes no sense at all.

    EDITOR’S RESPONSE: The opening two paragraphs are a summary written by Pacific Scoop. The remained of the item is an unabridged speech/release officially issued by the Kingdom Of Tonga.

     
  2. Filise Moni, 29. June 2010, 16:07

    Its easy to say “we must go nuclear” and sound like a reformer/visionary (is it just a coincidence that President Obama recent speech pointed towards going nuclear too?!) but even the costs of a 25 MW plant are being touted to cost up to US$50m. There are a number of companies lining up to supply this type of product aimed at smaller nations like us.

    Obviously Tonga needs specialised help, expertise etc. to set up and maintain the reactor. There are also safety concerns and other measures as you would expect with any reactor. Fact is, there is a lot to consider not least the investment required. I would hope that the Govt are extra cautious, we are a small island nation but there are sharks surrounding us.

    Lets hope lessons are learnt from the Dr Wong specials of the past. Its been long enough for Tongans to laugh about these failures. Everyone recalls the Fuamotu hotel which Tongans witnessed with curiousity chinese workers foraging for coconut and fruits when Dr Wong pulled the pin. But lesser reported are the Russian helicopters and team that were brought over to Tonga but never left the ground leaving the Russians were left stranded in Tonga. Thats always a good story to tell at a party.

     
  3. Jonathan Pahulu, 5. July 2010, 21:55

    Tonga’s economy is the most vulnerable in the Pacific Islands. It is heavily dependent on remittances. The King should immediately cease daydreaming but to redirect its meagre resources to more urgent infrastructure like upgrading its roading system, a sustainable sewerage system, better water supply, better health system and perhaps get rid of those silly regalia befitting an oil rich sultan from the middle east.

     
  4. terry, 6. July 2010, 7:43

    too much unresearched rubbish has been said and witten about nuclear power generation..several Pacific Island countries are already lining up for small semi-nuclear power generation modules ideal for small island economies..there are several technically safe models coming up..particularly interesting are developments in China and Germany..

    http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/

     
  5.  

    […] of establishing new nuclear energy technologies as a solution to address Tonga’s energy needs. (Pacific Scoop) While reticent to publicly endorse the King’s speech, Tonga’s more independent ministers […]