Dear Heather –
"I will not be signing the letter sent to me as I do not accept that I have broken any codes, ethics or regulations except that I did not make it clear on the Media Release(MR) that it was my personal viewpoint. However- I have issued many MRs in my media work here, which dates back to the early 1990s, and not one MR has ever been questioned by the USP except this last one. Future media releases will be clearly identified as coming from myself.
I stand by my view that the original MR was accurate, balanced and a response to items that were already in the news arena.
Before giving an interview to any media I advise them that the views are my own. I have followed the procedure during my many years at the USP and working for other NGOs and media. You and Dr. Williams betrayed me. We had an informal conversation. That is on audio tape, yours and mine. There was no mention of further action. That night the USP issued a strong and inaccurate statement. Next morning we met and I was asked to write a draft for the basis of a new media statement. I received no comment on the draft and then received your letter, which I consider a threatening statement. I acknowledged that I signed that I read the code of ethics. I did not say I broke any.
I have issued a Media Release today. Ana will receive a copy. Pat ."
Wadan Narsey: Some USP investigations quick off the mark but what about the resignations of Professors Susan Kelly and Biman Prasad? Answers demanded from Ikbal Janif, the chairman of the USP Council
It is wonderful that USP management is so quick off the mark to investigate possible breaches of the USP code of conduct by two journalism lecturers, who merely gave their personal views to the media on continuing media censorship in Fiji, and military brutality in the past.
But so far, both USP management and the Chair of USP Council have refused to initiate any inquiries or make any public response whatsoever into two important issues concerning the performance of USP management, raised previously by the public through the media.
Both these issues concern transparency, good governance and accountability, which are all part of USP’s Mission and Vision statements, that an honest and effective USP Council, the ultimate governing body of USP, should demand from USP management.
First, can the Chairman of USP Council (Mr Ikbal Janif) inform the tax-payers of Fiji and the USP region, what exactly were the circumstances which led to the recent resignation of Professor Susan Kelly (Deputy Vice Chancellor at USP), at great financial cost to the University and taxpayers?
The second issue concerns talented and scarce regional academics leaving USP, clearly unwanted by the USP management. The most recent case was Professor of Economics, Dr Biman Prasad, who was outstanding as Dean for several years, and in the opinion of most senior academic colleagues and sectional administrators at USP, eminently qualified, both academically and administratively, to be appointed to the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor, for which he had unsuccessfully applied (I mean no disrespect to the appointed individual who has the good luck to be a beneficiary of the circumstances).
The USP Appointment Committee (of which Mr Ikbal Janif was also Chairman) was entitled to make its own judgment. But, as a tax payer and a former USP professor concerned about serious ongoing governance issues at USP, I wish to question if the final appointment committee meeting, followed the basic principles of fairness and natural justice to Professor Biman Prasad.
(1) after six months of delay while Professor Prasad (and the applicants) were put through any number of interviews and tests, why was the appointment committee meeting not postponed for a few days, because the Chairman (Mr Jannif) was supposedly “ill-disposed” on that particular day of the final committee meeting?
(2) why was the meeting chaired by the Deputy Chair of Council, who was not on the original Appointments Committee, who was not present at the public presentations by the candidates, who was not part of the earlier interview processes, and who would therefore not have been in a position to judge the relative merits of the candidates?
(3) is it correct that at that last appointment committee meeting (at which there were two absentees), the same Acting Chairperson, supported by the Vice Chancellor, took an active role in pushing for the current appointee, who had nowhere near the academic or administrative qualifications of Professor Prasad, instead of letting the normal committee members make the decision?
Mr Janif must be accountable to tax-payers both as Chair of the ultimate governing body, USP Council, and as Chairman of this particular Appointment Committee, which supposedly found Professor Biman Prasad’s application for the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor, inferior to that of the current appointee.
Can Mr Ikbal Janif, also a former Chairman of Transparency International Fiji, please personally enlighten the public on these two issues, answer the three questions raised above, and put into practice the principles of transparency and accountability, which USP management are often preaching to the Pacific taxpayers who “own” USP?
Professor Wadan Narsey