NFP: Government meddling has compromised USP governance
Friday 12th June 2020
The National Federation Party says the Fiji First Government’s meddling into the University of the South Pacific has compromised principles of academic freedom, good governance, ethics and sound financial and operational management of the regional University.
NFP President Pio Tikoduadua said the current government has bought Fiji's regional standing to grave disrepute and shame, with the “woeful shenanigans surrounding its appointees on the USP Executive Committee and its usurpation of the USP Council's powers”.
“Government is clearly meddling into the governance of the USP”.
“Further the Government stands accused on the matter of the BDO Report which it has covertly kept from the eyes of our Parliament and taxpayers, only to now have media reports show the rampant rort, cronyism and self-enrichment that flourished unchecked under the previous Vice Chancellor (Rajesh Chandra)".
“The Government can no longer high-handedly wave around its taxfunded contributions to USP, as a stand-over threat to fellow Pacific Island Country co-owners of the university, that does our credibility no favours either”.
“While Fiji is a large contributor, it has also as equally benefitted from the arrangement for many years”.
“Whereas Fiji used to always show wise magnanimity to its Pacific neighbors in regional matters, its selfish behaviour in recent years under this Government particularly has plummeted Fiji's credibility to an all-time low”.
“The Minister for Education, Rosy Akbar as the official member of the USP Council, must not dupe taxpayers with juvenile and nefarious counterclaims, and simply focus on the BDO Report which she has conveniently turned a blind eye to, all this time”.
“We call on the Minister for Education to:
Ensure that the senior management team at USP suspends all large payments unrelated to the normal running operations of the university until the leadership crisis is resolved;
Ensure that the senior management does not execute underhanded tactics that victimize and intimidate the students or staff -- including dubious COVID-19 ploys, especially when they are preparing for exams next week.
Stand down Pro Chancellor Winston Thompson and reinstate Vice Chancellor Pal until the Council has met;
Participate in good faith at the Special USP Council meeting that we understand to be scheduled within the next 5 days;
Make the BDO Report public to taxpayers in Fiji, and table accordingly in Parliament.
“The longer the Fiji First Government takes to make this report public, the stronger the perception becomes that this government is protecting its cronies who may be implicated in it”.
“The tone-deaf actions of this Government with regards to the BDO Report will ensure that our regional history does not look kindly on them”.
“We will have more to say on the matter in Parliament”.