“Robin Nair Responds to the PM”
Former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Robin Nair called on the Prime Minister to seek “better advice” when reacting to serious issues raised by the Hon Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon Ro Temumu Kepa, rather than through yet another “emotional” outburst. He said that the Hon Prime Minister shows that he has difficulty transitioning from a Military Leader to a Prime Minister in a Parliamentary democracy.
Nair was referring to the Hon Leader of the Opposition, Na Gone Marama Bale Na Roko Tui Dreketi’s statement in her Budget Speech on what she called “the substantial increase in Head 50: Miscellaneous Service”. She said that “This confirms that the Government is only controlled by 2 or 3 individuals, which could be confirmed by comments made by the former Cabinet Minister, Hon Pio Tikoduadua and the former Permanent Secretary of Foreign affairs, Mr Robin Nair.”
Hon Prime Minister reportedly reacted to her statement outside the Parliamentary Chambers to reporters that he forced Pio Tikoduadua and Robin Nair to resign. Nair said that if this were true, the Prime Minister had no such authority.
“That the Prime Minister should be advised most urgently that his own Constitution, gives the power to hire, fire and discipline of a Permanent Secretary to the Public Service Commission (PSC). The PSC uses these powers judiciously and within the perimeters of the law on natural justice. Under the Constitution the PSC is an independent Constitutional body appointed by the President and does not fall under the direction of a Minister. The Prime Minister does not even have the legal authority under our Constitution to direct the Public Service Commission to appoint, remove or institute a disciplinary action.
Section 8 of Public Service (Amendment) Act 2016, removes section 12 of the Public Service Act 1999 which had empowered the Minister to give directions to the Commission. This was deemed no longer necessary given that the Commission is an independent body.
Section 22 of the Public Service Act 1999, as amended by the Public Service (Amendment) Act 2016, states, “Any person who seeks to, directly or indirectly, improperly influence the Commission or a member, employee or agent of the Commission commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000.”
Mr Nair commented that this reminded him of what senior members of the US Congress told President Trump in recent weeks, that "All Americans, regardless of party, agree on the fundamental principle that no one is above the law…. It has become clear that President Trump believes that he has the power to fire anyone in government he chooses and for any reason… That is not how the rule of law works, and Congress will not allow the president to so egregiously overstep his authority”.
Mr Nair said the use of words like “Force” does not reflect well on a Prime Minister who was once a Military Commander and the Prime Minister of a Military Government. It reminds people of the forceful take-over of democratically elected Governments; a Constitution being forced on a People; the forced abolition of revered institutions of indigenous people without any consultations; and other such unilateral acts in our sad political history.