Thomp­son: Rule on facts, not emo­tions

Fiji Sun - - FRONT PAGE - ROSI DOVIVERATA Edited by Jonathan Bryce

The 35 Univer­sity of the South Pa­cific coun­cil mem­bers who meet to­day are urged to make de­ci­sions based on facts and ev­i­dence. Not on emo­tions. Pro-Chan­cel­lor and chair­man of the coun­cil, Win­ston Thomp­son, said there were many peo­ple who would try to in­flu­ence coun­cil mem­bers.

But each of them will have to de­cide on their own in­di­vid­ual judge­ment, how they want to deal with the is­sues on the agenda, he said.

On Wed­nes­day night, con­fi­den­tial pa­pers cir­cu­lated to the 35 mem­bers of the coun­cil were leaked and pub­lished by Michael Field on the Pa­cific News­room Face­book page.

All doc­u­ments have been widely cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia.

This in­cluded the agenda of the meet­ing, pa­per from the Pro-chan­cel­lor and chair of the coun­cil, a pa­per from the act­ing vice chan­cel­lor and pres­i­dent pro­fes­sor Der­rick Arm­strong and a pa­per from the chair of the Au­dit and Risk Com­mit­tee.

Mr Thomp­son said it was highly re­gret­table and a se­ri­ous lapse of the per­son(s) in­tegrity and fidu­ciary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“How are we to take them to task when it was sent out to 35 mem­bers of coun­cil,” he said.

“It is sad be­cause peo­ple are sup­pose to take their fidu­ciary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties se­ri­ously.” Mr Thomp­son also pointed out the highly deroga­tory com­ments ex­pressed in the me­dia by in­flu­en­tial thought lead­ers in re­cent days. He said th­ese com­ments have been made with­out the com­men­ta­tors try­ing to ob­tain the views of the coun­cil chair so that a more in­formed com­ment could be made. “The com­ments have also per­pet­u­ated mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion. This has been an un­for­tu­nate fea­ture of press state­ments in the re­cent past,” he said.


On Mon­day a pe­ti­tion by former staff and alumni of USP and “global Pa­cific schol­ars” was sent to the coun­cil sec­re­tariat. It was signed by more than 246 in­di­vid­u­als in­clud­ing aca­demics at the Fiji Na­tional Univer­sity. Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party leader Bi­man Prasad was also a sig­na­tory.

The sig­na­to­ries called on the USP Coun­cil to re­in­state Pro­fes­sor Pal Ah­luwalia among other things.

Po­lice Pres­ence

Mr Thomp­son said they’ve never re­quested Po­lice pres­ence pre­vi­ously and were not go­ing to do the same to­day.

“We think the sit­u­a­tion will be man­age­able. We don’t an­tic­i­pate any sit­u­a­tion that would re­quire Po­lice pres­ence,” he said.

“Po­lice have their own re­quire­ments and they de­cide on their judge­ment what they need to do if they choose to come to the cam­pus, that’s based on the in­for­ma­tion that they have.”

Nauru Pres­i­dent

Mr Thomp­son thanked Nauru Pres­i­dent Lionel Rouwen Aingimea for agree­ing that the meet­ing to­day goes ahead, re­solv­ing the im­passe of the past week. Mr Aingimea is a former law lec­turer at USP and the in­com­ing USP Chan­cel­lor.

Mr Thomp­son’s three-year term ends at the end of 2021.

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