Bakhodir Burkhanov: Handover event at Tonga’s Legislative Assembly PremisesMar 8, 2018
Lord Speaker, Lord Fakafanua
Honorable Members of the Legislative Assembly
Ambassador Ford, Australian High Commissioner to Tonga
Ambassador Babington, New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga
Clerk and staff of the Legislative Assembly
Members of the media corpus
Ladies and gentlemen:
Malo e lelei and a very good morning to you all!
Today’s brief ceremony commemorates the handover of equipment to the Legislative Assembly whose old home was destroyed by Cyclone Gita. Indeed, the image of the Fale Alea ‘o Tonga building in ruins was perhaps one of the most powerful visuals from TC Gita’s path of devastation.
Within days after Tongan Parliament reached out to UNDP, national and state-level parliaments in the region have confirmed donations and loans of equipment to enable the March sitting to proceed.
In just over a week, most of the donated equipment was already in Tonga along with technicians to set it up at temporary Parliament premises.
This was a show of great solidarity and support from Tonga’s fellow legislatures. UNDP only played a facilitative role by liaising with our partner Parliaments and covering the cost of lifting the equipment, supplies and personnel to Tonga.
I would like to acknowledge the support from these partner Parliaments who heed the call for assistance from UNDP on behalf of the Tonga Legislative Assembly:
- The New Zealand House of Representatives that donated laptops, headsets and translation aids;
- The South Australia Parliament who is also a twin Parliament for the Tonga Legislative Assembly, having provided Hansard, sound and archive data storage equipment;
- The Victoria Parliament who offered to donate 20 laptops and 30 desktop computers with a local network;
- The Western Australia Parliament that donated audio and sound equipment; and
- The Parliament of the Republic of Fiji who seconded 2 of its IT staff to provide technical support in the setting up of the Chamber and Hansard rooms, and lent the use of additional equipment for the March session despite matching sitting dates.
This was a regional and south-south cooperation in its truest form, and I would like to sincerely thank our partners in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji for their support.
From UNDP, I would like to acknowledge the New Zealand-funded Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI) that coordinated this process working with the Tongan Legislative Assembly. Lord Speaker, a word of appreciation for your kind acknowledgement of PPEI’s work in yesterday’s event with Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern.
Through the project, among other planned activities, we look forward to supporting your office in organizing a youth parliament later this year to challenge negative stereotypes and to break down barriers to political participation of women and young people. Incidentally, today is the International Women’s Day and we all can do more to promote women in elected office and in senior executive positions.
The venue we are in this morning has seen a remarkable transformation over the last few days. Thank you, Lord Speaker, for your leadership and quick action to bring the Assembly back in session for the important Parliament business of legislating, oversight and representation. Please count on UNDP to support your important role together with our partners.