Criticisms made by the Tourism Minister and Member of Parliament for Rennell-Bellona Province, Seth Gukuna, on the newly developed national rugby stadium has been described "unbecoming of a so called national leader, and we view this as rather hypocritical and uncalled for."

Solomon Islands Rugby Union President, Jay Kabei, made the comment in light of Mr. Gukuna's description of the rugby stadium as "a pretext for the Asian businessman when it was actually a shopping complex."

Mr. Gukuna made the criticisms when contributing to a debate in Parliament on the special adjournment motion moved by the Prime Minister, Dr. Derek Sikua.

The Rennell-Bellona MP said that it was incredible to see such a rugby stadium, claiming that compared to other rugby stadium in other Pacific countries, the Town Ground rugby stadium is "very different."

Mr. Gukuna said that the stadium is "one example of Asian businessmen invading this nation to operate their business here while the indigenous Solomon Islanders are not being given the opportunity to run their business on a particular land in Honiara."

The Tourism Minister said that it is now time for government to give the opportunity for locals, or even the government, to own such a stadium as a way of allowing money to circulate in the country rather than allowing foreigners who are draining out the country's national economy.

But Mr. Kabei said that the company had risked millions of dollars to venture into partnership with SI rugby Union in a country that has a chronic history of political instability.

He said that the project will help boost not just sports in the country but also tourism, "not to mention the long term spin off effect on the ailing economy of our nation."

The SIRUF President said the Minister should refrain from entertaining such mud slinging tactics because he's got so many outstanding issues at stake that are both of national and provincial interests.

Mr. Kabei said that if all goes to plan, the first ever national rugby stadium in Solomon Islands should be complete for public use this time next year, 2009.

"Once completed, the Company promises to offer the good people of this nation fantastic rugby sporting facility and a shoppers' paradise for all to enjoy."

Source: National Express