OPEN LETTER: By USP staff, alumnus and students
Vice-chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia has only been at the University of the South Pacific (USP) for three years – and each year, Fiji has attempted to “coup” him. The first was in August 2019, second in June 2020 and now February 2021.
First, through a 16-page paper at the USP Council in Nadi in 2019, Fiji moved to sack him.
Second in 2020, using its numbers in a special executive council, Fiji suspended him and installed Professor Derek Armstrong, a failed candidate for USP VCP as Acting VCP. After Council reinstated VCP Pal, and cleared him of all allegations, Fiji then told the Fijian public that the council made a wrong decision.
Professor Pal Ahluwalia … deported by Fiji on a flight to Brisbane. Image: APR
The third attempt was a plain old Gestapo-style coup.
Under cover of darkness and during curfew hours, like the parable thief, 15 Fijian officials infiltrated the region’s sacred space in Laucala, kidnapped its CEO and his wife and whisked them off to Australia. The operation was over within 10 hours from the 12am Laucala campus kidnap to catch the 10am Nadi flight runway.
And just next door at Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, in the same early hours of the same Thursday, February 4, morning, the leaders were groaning over Dame Meg Taylor’s successor [as secretary-general].
This Fiji operation was a staged and successful coup on the supreme governing body of USP while its leaders were preoccupied and too tired to take any action.
Unable to stamp its dominance over the USP Council, the ruling FijiFirst government struck and for the third time, using its own laws, got rid of a thorn in its side and ready for another showdown with the region.
Dr Morgan Tuimaleali’ifano
For the Good Governance Team at USP