Pursuing Pacific Games dream would be “stupid indeed” for Tonga says Justice Minister
7 August, 2018, 4:37 pm
NUKU’ALOFA, 07 AUGUST 2018 (KANIVA TONGA NEWS) – Tongan Justice Minister, Sione Vuna Fā’otusia said Friday the Pacific Games Council had lost nothing from Tonga’s decision not to host the 2019 Pacific Games.
Fā’otusia told Kaniva Tonga it would be stupid to host the Games when it could damage the country economically.
The Pacific Games Council has taken the government to court and is claiming millions of pa’anga in damages.
Lawyers Dr Rodney Harrison and Dr Sela Moa are working on the case.
Dr Harrison informed Lawyer Clive Edwards, who was representing Pacific Games Council, on June 8 that he was representing the Kingdom of Tonga.
“This has been an unavoidable delay since service of the proceedings, while my client and specifically Cabinet investigated possible conflict of interest in term of choice of lawyers to represent the kingdom and ultimately resolved to appoint me in that capacity,” Dr Harrison said in a letter seen by Kaniva News.
“This case if funny indeed as the Pacific Games Council did not lose anything at all from Tonga’s cancellation,” Fā’otusia said.
He said the only people who lost from the Games were the chief executive of Tonga’s Pacific Games Organising Committee, Lord Fred Sevele and his team who would have benefitted from being involved.
“Tonga is not in a position to spend millions of dollars in doing something that it is obvious not going to benefit the country.
“In fact, sport is dead in the island. Why be stupid and be hard-headed in pursuing a course of action that will put the country in harm’s way?
“We have to start with cultivation of sport in the country then thinking about hosting the Pacific games. Maybe in the next 20 years or so?”
In 2016 the government announced it had sacked Lord Sevele, a former Prime Minister, in an attempt to improve management and cut costs.
However, Lord Chief Justice Paulsen overturned the dismissal.
The Pacific Games Council had argued that the dismissal was an infringement of the hosting contract.
Last year Lord Sevele said he and Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva should work together to ensure that the 2019 Games were a success.
Samoa will host the Games next year, with the opening ceremony scheduled for July 8 and the closing ceremony on July 20. The First South Pacific Games were held in Suva in 1963.