By Nasik Swami in Suva
In the interest of transparency, the University of the South Pacific should make public the contents of the university’s “secret” BDO Report and also the allegations made against vice-chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia, says a leading New Zealand-based Fiji academic.
“Public interest demands that the BDO report needs to be released and the work by the commission expedited while the allegations against the vice-chancellor be released also and properly investigated as well,” said political sociologist professor Steven Ratuva, a former USP academic.
Professor Ratuva, director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury, said secrecy “does not serve anyone any good”.
He said USP was a regional institution and there should be no political interference that would undermine its independence.
“As we have seen in other developing countries, politicisation of universities has led to their demise as respectable institutions.
“What USP needs is not vendetta-based vengeance and counter-vengeance politics which will run the institution down, but independent scholarly innovation to raise the level of high impact research and teaching to become a world class institution of learning.”
BDO report ‘now history’
USP Council chair and pro-chancellor Winston Thompson, a retired Fiji diplomat, said the BDO report was “now history” and people should stop trying to resurrect it.
He said allegations of mismanagement and governance issues which emerged from the leaked BDO report published by Islands Business had been “dealt with”.
Thompson said the university’s position on the report was that its findings had already been considered by the council in its special meeting in August last year.
He also said allegations against him in the BDO report were “comparatively minor”.
Nasik Swami is a senior Fiji Times reporter.