University of the South Pacific’s vice chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia and his wife were deported from Fiji to Australia yesterday morning. 21020315
The University of the South Pacific’s Cook Islands campus director hopes member countries will come together and put extreme pressure on the Fijian Government after shock deportation of their vice chancellor.
The deportation of University of the South Pacific
vice chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia and his wife from Fiji yesterday has
not affected the operation of its Cook Islands campus.
But campus director Dr Debi Futter-Puati wants
the regional university’s member countries, including Cook Islands, to come
together and put extreme pressure on the Fijian government for “for this
Professor Pal Ahluwalia and his wife were deported from
Fiji to Australia yesterday morning.
Dr Futter-Puati, who has been following the
developments at the university’s main campus in Suva, Fiji closely, said: “I am
very sad to hear that this has happened to Professor Pal. I sincerely hope the
other member countries put extreme pressure on the Fiji Government for this
“Other than that, it is business as usual for us.”
Pacific reported that Ahluwalia and his wife were awoken and
taken from their home late at night by plain clothed Fiji Immigration officers “who
broke into the residence”.
They were transported to Nadi International Airport to
be deported to Brisbane at around midday yesterday.
When Ahluwalia asked for the grounds of his
deportation, he was told he posed a “public risk”.
A letter was signed by Fiji’s acting director for
immigration Amelia Komaisavai that said the Fijian government deemed the
professor to be “a person who is or has been conducting himself in a manner
prejudicial to the peace, defence, public safety, public order, public
morality, public health, security or good government of the Fiji Islands”.
Ahluwalia has been driving efforts to clean up the
governance of the Fiji-based university, since he took on the role two years
Last year, he was suspended by the university’s
executive committee led by Winston Thompson over alleged malpractice.
After protests by students and staff, and regional
concern, Ahluwalia was reinstated when the university Council, made up of
member countries including Cook Islands, ruled that due process had not been
followed in the suspension.
The Council also subsequently cleared Ahluwalia of all
The Fiji Government later announced it was suspending
its grants of more than $US10 million to the university.
Yesterday, the USP Staff Union and Association of USP
Staff issued a statement saying they were alarmed at the way the Fijian government
entered the Vice Chancellor’s residence and orchestrated their removal - the
manner being a violation of human rights.
Business reported that Nauru’s President and the acting Chair
of the USP Council Lionel Aingimea yesterday called for an emergency Council
meeting in light of the professor’s arrest and deportation.
The international multimedia publishing company based
in Suva, further stated that the Council was expected to meet today to decide
on the future of Fiji government representatives, namely Winston Thompson and
Education Minister Vaine (Mac) Mokoroa, who represents Cook Islands in the Council, confirmed today’s meeting, adding “perhaps we will be updated on this matter”.