FIJI PM RABUKA MAY REFUSE HONORARY DEGREE

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SUVA, Fiji (June 23, 1998 - Fiji Times/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka may not accept an honorary degree from Central Queensland University (CQU), the Fiji Times reports.

He said yesterday he would ask the university if it was better for the institution itself not to award him the degree considering reactions from certain professors at the university.

Mr. Rabuka was reacting to reports that some professors were furious over the decision to award him an honorary doctorate.

"I could ask that I don't accept it. I may ask the adviser at the campus what would be in the best interest of the university," Mr. Rabuka said.

"I am still going. It is not something I asked for. If they think I am worthy of an honorary degree, well, that is theirs for them to give, it is not for me to decide.

"The only thing that will affect my plans to go is if I hear from the university asking me not to go."

Two members of the university faculty intend to boycott the graduation ceremony which Mr. Rabuka will address.

A statement from the university said Mr. Rabuka would be awarded the degree for "many years of work in Government, for striving to advance the status of the Fijian people and for support of CQU in Fiji."

[Niusedita: The university began advertising in local newspapers today for its first Fiji students to enroll in the Master of Business Administration at the "Fiji International Campus."]

"The university acknowledges that (Mr. Rabuka) has been a controversial figure but that he has worked hard to restore Fiji's economy, democratic and constitutional stability ,culminating in his nation's return to the Commonwealth of Nations last year," the statement said.

Mr. Rabuka said he accepted the reservation as it was all part of his work. "I am a politician and I operate with opposition which means that I accept that I do not have 100 per cent support in any quarter," Mr. Rabuka said.

"And so those are all part of democratic processes, therefore I was not in fact ... even in the academic board that decided that thing, I don't feel it was unanimous."

Professor Alan Knight, chair of journalism and media studies at the university and psychology professor Graham Davidson said they were shocked at the decision, condemning Mr. Rabuka's role in the 1987 coups.

Title -- 1494 EDUCATION: Fiji PM may refuse honor Date -- 23 June 1998 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Fiji Times, 23/6/98 Copyright -- Fiji Times Status – Unabridged

This document is for educational and personal use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific. Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius: niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.usp.ac.fj/www/usp/soh/journ/nius/index.html

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