Opposition: Actions of Fijian Gov’t Unacceptable

USP vice-chancellor Pal Ahluwalia being escorted from Fiji. Photo: RNZ | Nukualofa Times

Former Vanuatu Foreign Affairs Minister and current Leader of Opposition, Ralph Regenvanu, says the Vanuatu Government and other governments in the region that own the University of the South Pacific (USP) should be protesting in the strongest terms about what the Fijian Government did without the involvement of other USP-member countries.

So far, the Vanuatu Government has remained silent on the issue, with no public statements, since Professor Pal Ahluwalia was deported from Fiji by the Fijian Government 11 days ago on February 4. Daily Post tried to get comment last week and yesterday but could not get any from the Vanuatu Government on this issue.

The USP Vice-Chancellor’s deportation reportedly occurred after Professor Ahluwalia raised allegations of mismanagement within USP.

These allegations were levelled against senior USP staff that were alleged to be the beneficiaries or decision makers in the mismanagement claim.

The Fijian Government alleged that the Professor had continuously breached the Fijian Immigration Act, that gave reason for deportation.

But Vanuatu’s Leader of Opposition says the actions of the Fijian Government are unacceptable.

“It’s just completely outside the bounds of normal behavior, any law regarding behavior.

“The USP Council is the authority of the USP.

“All decisions about what happens in USP, should be made by the USP Council.

“What the Fijian Government has done is try to protect its members in the Council who have been very seriously alleged to be involved in corrupt activities for many years.

“Everyone is aware of the corruption that’s been alleged.

“The USP Council is in the process of dealing with that.

“And the fact that the Vice-Chancellor was deported a couple of days before the USP Council meeting that was supposed to look into this matter, shows that the Fiji government has no regard for the other member countries who own USP, along with it and that it is trying to pervert the course of justice when it comes to what’s happening in USP, especially aiding and abetting corruption in our regional institution.

“The Vanuatu Government as well as other governments that own USP should be protesting in the strongest terms.

“At the extreme, if the Fiji government does not take action to fix what it’s done, I think the member countries should be considering the future of the USP headquarter in Fiji,” Mr Regenvanu said.

Currently, Vanuatu hosts USP’s Emalus Campus in Port Vila where the School of Law is located.So far, Samoa has made its views on the issue very loud and clear.

Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has gone public expressing Samoa’s desire to host the USP headquarter.

The Samoan prime minister had told Radio New Zealand that it is a long-term vision of his country to host the USP administration and this has been resurrected following the deportation saga of Professor Ahluwalia.

Samoa also hosts a USP Campus at Alafua that has in it the School of Agriculture.

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