For months now I’ve tried to work with King George Topou V and the rest of the Royal Family of Tonga in an attempt to inform them about the risks their kingdom faces from climate change and to get them to act on behalf of their people. It’s been a frustrating, nonproductive process full of long delays and zero sense of urgency on the part of the King, the Queen and assorted princesses and wanna-be princesses.
Along the way, one thing has become blindingly obvious. Neither the King, or any other member of the royal family, gives a shit about what happens to their people – whether it’s from climate change, the sinking of unseaworthy ferry boats owned by the government, or from earthquakes or tsunamis.
If it sounds like I don’t have enough respect for the royal family of Tonga, then you’ve got that right. I started out with plenty of respect but then I couldn’t sustain it based on their actions. It wasn’t just that they didn’t want to work with me – they don’t want to work with anyone on this issue. Hell, they don’t even want to work at all.
Hidden behind a rubbish dump on the northern side of Nuku'alofa you will find a slum built on a filled-in swamp; showing the real poor side of Tonga...
If you think I’m being too tough on somebody else’s scared culture, then I think you should try being one of the 40% of Tongan’s who live below the poverty level with diminishing prospects of a decent life for yourself and your children, while the Tongan royal family lives high off the hog and makes its money the old fashioned way – by holding their hands out and demanding it in exchange for jack squat.
While inspirational leaders like President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives islands:
And President Anote Tong of the island nation of Kiribati -
For the people of Tonga, the best thing they can hope for is to take their future into their own hands and toss the royals out on their asses – even before they are forced to give up power next year.
There’s no reason to wait one more minute, my Tongan brothers and sisters. Why not seize the moment and seize any number of those royal palaces the royals own throughout the kingdom? Why sleep in a shack when there are empty royal beds with fluffy down pillows waiting?
There’s no reason in the world you should delay the democracy that is long overdue you. Because the longer you wait, the longer it’s going to take you to start cutting Tonga’s carbon footprint – which you should have started doing already. That’s step one in learning to save yourselves.
You’re going to need to start by eliminating your use of diesel generators and switching to more carbon free sources of energy. You needed a solar Tonga project like yesterday.
And you’re going to have to start preparing for the sea level rise that is already baked into your nation’s future. So you might as well get started today.
Frankly, I doubt the delusional royal family will even notice what’s happening.
After all, your 60 year old, still-in-the-closet king (not that there’s anything wrong with that) spends almost all his time dressing up in silly military costumes, playing with remote control toys, sporting his Dr. Evil style monocle, wearing his sword and driving his English taxi – when he’s not pretending to be Scottish and spending months at a time playing war games and sucking up cash wherever he goes.
Hell of a role model, King. Way to rule.
You’ve done almost as well as your dad did when he got suckered out of millions by that low level employee of the Bank of America who he named the Royal Court Jester before turning over all the profits your nation made by selling Tongan citizenships to the the Chinese before the turnover of Hong Kong. Ahhhh, the good old days.
Not soon enough of course, but the days when the royals decide who gets to be in Parliament by hand-picking their own suck-ups officially ends in 2010.
Unless of course, the people decide that the days of island time are already over and that they deserve at least the same chance at a future as the people of the Maldives and Kiribati’s leaders envision for their children.