Thompson: Rule on facts, not emotions
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.
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.”
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.