Make ‘secret’ BDO report and USP inquiries public, says Ratuva

#TeamPal students supporting the reinstatement of USP vice-chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia at Laucala campus in Suva. Image: USPSA

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”.

READ MORE: Special reports on the USP leadership crisis

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”.

Fiji Times 24-06-20
Today’s Fiji Times front page. Image: Fiji Times screenshot/PMC

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.

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