FIJI PM QARASE’S OFFICE ANGERED BY USP ACADEMICS

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FIJI PM QARASE’S OFFICE ANGERED BY USP ACADEMICS

SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 19, 2002 – Daily Post)---The Prime Minister’s Office has described certain academics at the University of the South Pacific as "fat cats" out with a mission to hijack the Laisenia Qarase-led government.

And the office says these academics were blindly ethnically biased in their analysis on the economy of the country.

A spokesman in the Prime Minister’s Office who spoke to The Daily Post on the condition of anonymity yesterday said the group of academics, particularly those in the Economics and Sociology Department at the local university, were biased and misleading at the "Fiji Update 2002" seminar last week.

A number of academics had spoken at length on the current status of the country’s economy and the rising poverty level in the country.

The spokesman said the group was critical of the government’s affirmative action programs and economic strategies.

"All they have been saying is that the Qarase-led government was not doing enough to get the country back on track and that the country is heading to destruction," the spokesman said.

"These are fat cats who are sitting on high salary packets and who have not lived the lives of an ordinary villager or a farmer. They have not lived in poverty.

"They may have studied the theoretical side of all that but when the government is making an effort to assist the underprivileged population then they turn around and question its motives."

The spokesman said those like Father Kevin Barr had more authority to speak on such issues because he "lives what he says."

"But for Professor Vijay Naidu to talk on the subject, it’s just like playing the same tune over and over," the spokesman said.

"It’s hypocritical for him to say that the country continues to be burdened with poverty," the spokesman said.

The spokesman stressed that the university’s integrity was in question as it continued to allow lecturers to make bias statements on important issues concerning the government.

"On one hand, the lecturers continue to criticize the government and on another, the Vice Chancellor, Savenaca Siwatibau, comes to the Prime Minister’s Office asking for the Fiji government to increase its contribution," the spokesman said.

University of the South Pacific Staff Association President Dr. Biman Prasad said it was unfortunate that people in the Prime Minister’s Office were using race to make criticisms.

Dr. Prasad said academics who spoke at the "Fiji Update 2002" seminar had based their analysis on statistics and research.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive. 

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