TONGA Youth Parliament (TYP) 2021 three-day orientation program now gets underway in Nuku’alofa from today until Wednesday, October 27 before the actual TYP sitting this Thursday and Friday, October 28th-29.

This follows the announcement at the weekend of 26 successful candidates aged 25-34 and two Members between the age of 14-18 for this year’s TYP.

The Tonga Youth Parliament initiative co-funded by UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP and the Legislative Assembly is to empower and encourage young people to participate in the political processes. Another objective is for youth to better understand the parliament’s roles, functions, rules and procedures. It is also to encourage youth to take an interest in citizenship activities such as parliament.

This year’s event is the first time in Parliament’s history to be held virtually. Participants are from Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u and this year’s Youth Parliament is inclusive to include MPs from the outer islands joining in a live zoom session.

It is also the first time to use the communication technology to pilot this TYP zoom session and also for the upcoming Tonga Women Parliament 2021 on November 1st.

The Clerk of Parliament Gloria Pole’o warmly welcomed the participants and highlighted, the next three days is a crucial time for the MPs to learn more about Parliament and the Executive.

Pole’o also mentioned the zoom session is part of piloting the program as part of COVID-19 preparedness due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The Clerk of Parliament also commended the high calibre of the 28 youth MPs and was hopeful for a fruitful discussion and their perspectives on drugs and youth unemployment issues.

TYP Steering Committee has identified drugs’ problems and youth unemployment as the two top priority issues to be discussed by the Youth Practice Parliament.

Pole’o said drug problems was highlighted as one of the top priority concerns of his Majesty King Tupou VI highlighted in his royal address on Parliament state opening. The Clerk said it is thrilling to know the youth concerns are in line with His Majesty’s priorities.

On unemployment issues, the Clerk noted there is need to empower young people so they can contribute to the development of our economy. This is an important issue for the youth MPs to discuss and their perspectives needs to be considered in order to identify the all-encompassing way forward in addressing this major challenge.

The business of the Tonga Youth Parliament is run similar to the Legislative Assembly’s procedures. Today, the Youth MPs were briefed on the role and functions of Parliament and its structure. Participants also learnt about the roles of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Whole House Committee Chairman and Members of Parliament.

They also enhance their knowledge on the Parliamentary Procedures and Bills processes, motions, petitions and question time.

Pole’o said the youth of today are the future leaders of our nation. Practice parliaments help build the capacity and knowledge of our future leaders.

Today two candidates were also nominated for the Prime Minister designate of the Tonga Youth Parliament 2021. They were ‘Uluaki Tongia, the Noble Representative no. 1 for Tongatapu constituency and ‘Eua People Representative Kisione Pakalani.

The ‘Eua MP won with the majority votes of 17 defeating the Noble Representative No. of Tongatapu constituency with 11 votes.

114 applications were received for Tonga Youth Parliament 2021.

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