Solomon Islands’ scientist Dr Morgan Wairiu has left the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji declining to accept a one year offer as he accuses the Vice Chancellor Professor Ahluwalia of making false statement on his contract.
Dr. Wairiu was the Deputy Director of the University’s Pacific Centre for Sustainable Development and for the last year has been the acting Director.
USP’s Vice Chancellor in an email to all staff claimed that Dr Wairiu had resigned “to take up a new position”. But that was untrue, and Dr Wairiu has issued his own statement to all staff to “correct a false statement made by Professor Ahluwalia”. The decision by leading Pacific Island staff to leave USP is very worrying for the future of USP. Besides Dr Wairiu, a second Solomon Islander and scientific leader has declined to accept a one-year extension of their contract at USP, reportedly following concerns about shabby treatment. Other key Pacific Island staff have left the University, fed-up of the treatment of locals by the Vice Chancellor. Still more are being forced out with their contracts not renewed.
In an exclusive statement to SBMOnline, Dr.Wairiu said Professor Ahluwalia’s vision for USP seems not to involve the Pacific Island staff who have invested much of their lives in the institution.
“In increasing numbers regional staff at the University have had enough of the treatment being meted out to them and the embarrassment that USP has become under Ahluwalia’s time as Vice Chancellor,” he said.
Dr Wairiu said up to now the University Council has supported the Vice Chancellor but isn’t it time that the Council started to take seriously the complaints of Pacific Island staff?
He said: “An independent investigation of the many complaints that have been made about Ahluwalia and his circle of cronies by long-serving staff is needed to get to the bottom of what is really happening at USP. Yet, the Council has refused to even look at the evidence in support of these complaints, as if they are all the concoction of two men – Winston Thompson and Mahmood Khan. The reality is very different as many on the inside at USP well know. The investigators need to talk to those staff, and ex-staff, whose voices have been silenced or marginalized by the Vice Chancellor and his supporters in the University and on Council. Up to now, the truth about what is happening has not come out. For whatever reason the Council has chosen to ignore the evidence of what is really going on underneath the mask of Ahluwalia’s cult-like rantings about his mission from God. If USP is ever to recover from the crisis that it now faces, a truly independent investigation of the allegations against the Vice Chancellor must take place.”
Dr Morgan Wairiu is one of the Pacific’s leading academics. A Solomon Islander, he has worked at the University of the South Pacific, based in Fiji, for the last 6 years. He was the Deputy Director of the University’s Pacific Centre for Sustainable Development and for the last year has been the acting Director. Dr Wairiu’s standing as a researcher on climate change and its effects has been internationally acclaimed and 2018 he was a lead author of the highly influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report that set out the planetary impacts, global warming and the need for sustainable development to eradicate poverty. He has brought nothing but credit and esteem to USP as a home-grown scientific leader.
And yet he has just left USP to return to the Solomon Islands even though he has no position to go to. Why would such an outstanding scientific leader leave USP?