The Fiji Labour Party has reacted angrily to political statements in the media by a visiting executive of the South Pacific Games, Ricardo Blas.
Mr. Blas, chairman of the South Pacific Games Council, is quoted as having said that had the People’s Coalition Government remained in office, it would have jeopardised Fiji’s chances of hosting the South Pacific Games.
“This is absolute rubbish. We are astounded that a senior executive of the Council should be making such political statements when we are prepared to put the past behind us and do our best to ensure that the games are a success,” PCG Prime Minister and Labour Parliamentary Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said.
Mr. Chaudhry said it was an outright lie to claim that no work on preparing the venue for the Games was done while the Coalition Government was in office.
“It was the People’s Coalition Government that facilitated funding for the new multi-purpose hall in Laucala Bay. I personally went to China to negotiate funding for this venture. The original plans for the hall, as we envisaged it, was on a bigger and grander scale than the building that has been put up.
“Preparations to host the SPG started as soon as we took office. I am absolutely confident that had the People’s Coalition Government remained in office, the Games would have been much bigger and better planned,” Mr. Chaudhry said.
If Mr. Blas must pick faults, he should put the blame where it really belongs. It was the May 2000 coup and the political mayhem that followed which put preparations for the games behind by two years. This meant that the Games committee had to rush to try and complete preparations in less than two years.
Mr. Chaudhry said the PC Government wanted to decentralise the Games to ensure that the opportunity of hosting and watching such a spectacular event, was experienced by as many of our people as possible. After all, the large majority of Fiji’s population live out of Suva.
“As the host government, it was only right that we bring the benefits of the Games to as many of our people as we could. We were negotiating hard with FASANOC to have at least some of the sporting events held in the West and the North. I see nothing wrong in this,” Mr. Chaudhry said.