USP’s Tukana resigns

Drama continues at the University of the South Pacific with revelations that a member of a sub-committee formed to probe its besieged Vice Chancellor has resigned.

Semi Tukana, an IT expert in Fiji, sent his letter of resignation to the man who had appointed him to the investigation committee, Pro Chancellor Winston Thompson.


In his two-page letter, Tukana gave four reasons for resigning, one being his concerns that “this sub-committee [is] being used as a means to achieving the ultimate aim of terminating the appointment of Professor Pal Ahluwalia as VC at USP.”


There is also the “existing public perception of the lack of independence in how the appointment of the members of this committee was arrived at,” and the “non-involvement of the USP Council as a whole,” wrote Tukana, who is a co-opted member of the full USP Council.

His letter was leaked to the media as Thompson chairs a meeting of the executive committee of the USP Council today, reportedly to suspend VC Ahluwalia. Local media reports say Fiji’s education minister Rosie Akbar is in attendance.


Tukana, who runs software companies in Fiji and Papua New Guinea distanced himself – in his resignation letter – from any attempts to remove the vice chancellor, because he believes Professor Ahluwalia had been doing a good job at running the regional university, co-owned by 12 island governments in the Pacific.

He said the VC’s removal was unwarranted given “his prudent management of the financial and academic operations of the University.”

“He has managed to hold the University together above water, and especially in the midst of this world-wide crisis with the Covid-19 pandemic. The employment of the ground, administrative, academic and professorial staff are still intact and the USP has been implementing a well organised phased approach to counter any expected adverse impact of the crisis.


“We are still a going concern, and the VC and his team and staff of the University are doing a great job in keeping the operations running smoothly. If for anything, Professor Pal Ahluwalia should be congratulated for his prudent approach in managing the operations of the University and in keeping it above water and in the black even during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Thompson cannot be reached for comments when this story was written as he is still in his meeting at the Laucala Bay Campus of the USP in Suva.