King Of Tonga Dies

March 19, 2012 by staff 

King Of Tonga Dies, The king of the South Pacific nation of Tonga died “peacefully” Sunday at a hospital in Hong Kong, a Tongan government official said Monday. He was 63.

A cause of death has not been released by the government. “Tonga has just woken up to the sad news of the passing of King George Tupou V,” said Paula Ma’u, an official in the Ministry of Information and Communication. “We are all in mourning.”
Ma’u said Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka, heir to the throne, was with the king “just before he passed away.”

Pesi Fonua, editor of Matangi Tonga online news website, said the Oxford-educated king was known for his world travel and spending habits, but was also respected for his efforts to bring democratic reforms and modernize Tongo.

“This king brought in things like mobile phones and other advances that we couldn’t dream would come to Tonga, and his push for democracy made a big impact on the people here,” Fonua said.
However, he said, Tongans had “mixed feelings here in the community” about the king.

“He lived a bachelor life, always a single man, and he traveled a lot around the world and spent money. He brought us in some ways forward into the 21st century, but some people have different — not as good — views on him.”

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed her condolences in a statement Monday, crediting George V with guiding “his country through a critical process of constitutional change towards the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.”

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