30 March 2023
Much of the news in the Solomon Islands press these days is given the upcoming Pacific Games, the construction of an impressive stadium, athletes facilities, track layouts and a greening programme in order to ensure Honiara and its environs are attractive the many visitors expected to come to Honiara to witnesses the couple of weeks events from mid-November.
Those of us old enough to remember over 25 years ago will recall, as I do, the brand-new stadium and sporting facilities have been constructed with the help of the PRC on the original sports field we knew as Lawson Tama where soccer events took place to large crowds, but not always successfully.
One particular ugly major soccer event comes to mind when spectators that had ascended from the high ground on one side of the playing field, and presumably because the premier soccer game being played out between teams from two provinces was not going according to their wishes or hopes, began to throw stones and rocks at the referee and players, causing the referee to loudly blow his whistle and stop the match.
The rock throwing crowd increased in numbers even though the match had been abandoned and it was clear there was a sizeable number bend on trouble.
I was present at the site and sensed the angry crowd could easily have moved to Chinatown if I had provoked their anger and pent-up feelings if I had ordered the commander of the police riot unit to fire tear gas.
I didn't do that and although stone throwing continued for a little while longer, the angry mob dissipated and their was no advance to Chinatown.
Some arrests were made at the scene the persons placed in custody.
When major soccer events were planned at Lawson Tama my police colleagues at Rove always had an operational contingency plan in place which I supervised. Essentially, the plan was to have sufficient police officers positioned at the main entrance to Chinatown in order to thwart any mob movement into the area of Chinese owned business premises and where many Chinese property owners had their homes.
I wish the events to be played out at the new sports complex for the Pacific Games will all go smoothly, bringing success to the athletes competing and pride in the country, but also kindle friendly competitiveness and the start of health benefits from sporting activities.