Michael Laws on Tongan King

Every so often Michael Laws says something which you can’t help but admire, even though it might be undiplomatic. NZPA reports him about the dead Tongan King as below:

Wanganui mayor Michael Laws is refusing to lower the flag in honour of the dead Tongan King.

Laws called King Tupou a “brown slug” on his Radio Live show and said he would not be lowering the New Zealand flag in Wanganui to honour him.

“They are a beneficiary country. We provide them with a good source of their income every year, which the royal family decide to misappropriate for themselves and they deny democracy for their subjects.”

Laws said Wanganui flew the flag at half mast for people who had made a contribution to the community, or events such as September 11 or the Boxing Day tsunami disaster.

“The death of the South Pacific king whose royal family is the equivalent of Robert Mugabe and his henchmen is not the sort of thing that one commemorates.

“Indeed I think it devalues the process of flying the flag at half mast.”

Laws said when he called the king a “brown slug” this morning he meant it in the real sense of the word.

“Which was that he fed on the goodness of the people.

“Nobody can own land except the royal family and all the businesses that make any money are owned by the royal family.”

He said it was a corrupt country with a corrupt regime and he had no idea why the Government would ask local authorities to fly the flag at half mast for the dead king.

And the king’s successor, was even worse than the king, Laws said.

“His son has the kind of attitude towards his countrymen that one would have expected from a medieval baron somewhere.”

Incidentially the issue of flags at half mast reminds me of a fairly major stuff up which happened in 1997 when Deng Xiaoping died and a decision had to be made whether to order flags at half mast, even though he was not a formal head of state or even government. I put out a press release from Prime Minister Bolger announcing that flags were to go to half mast (on govt properties) and then a few minutes later got a phone call informing me that the PM hadn’t actually made a decision yet, or even seen the briefing note. Whoops. Would have been disrespectful to China to reverse the position formally so the decision had to stand. The fault incidentially was not mine as we had said we would assume he had approved it if we did not hear back, and someone else forgot to show it to Bolger.

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