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By Malia Sio

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 5) – A controversy surrounding the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor for the University of the South Pacific has surfaced in Apia.

Minister of Education Fiame Naomi Mata'afa says that Samoa supported the best candidate for the job Anthony Aston Tarr.

[Fijilive reports that Tarr’s recent selection over Acting Vice Chancellor Rajesh Chandra has triggered growing discontent in Fiji and beyond. According to the online news publication, the Wellington-based South Pacific and Oceania Council of Trade Unions has expressed outrage at Tarr’s selection as Vice Chancellor.]

Tarr holds a B.A., 1975, University of Natal; LL.B., 1977, University of Natal; LL.M., 1978, Cambridge University; Ph.D., 1983, University of Canterbury; Ph.D., 2000, Cambridge University.

As a member of the USP Council, Fiame said the council had worked on agreed procedures to find the best candidate.

Fiame also confirmed yesterday that during the council meeting in which applicants were considered, ten of 12 Pacific Island countries were in favor of Mr Tarr. Samoa was one of those 10 countries.

Fiame said that she was satisfied with the processes the council had used, and was confident that Samoa had supported the best candidate.

The two countries that supported Mr Chandra were Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands.

Radio New Zealand has reported however that the Fiji government was being questioned over its decision not to support Indo-Fijian candidate Rajesh Chandra.

It says the Fijian education minister, Ro Teimumu Kepa, has told Fiji TV that Fiji supported the best candidate.

Labor party leader Mahendra Chaundhry, however, has made claims that several regional countries were in support of Professor Chandra's appointment to Vice Chancellor.

Fiame confirmed that only two Pacific Island countries were in support of Professor Chandra as opposed to ten in support of Mr Tarr.

Mr Tarr specializes in insurance law and commercial law.

He has served as managing director of an insurance company and has published numerous books and articles in the insurance law field including Australian Insurance Law and Insurance Law in New Zealand.

He has served on the Editorial Board of the Laws of Australia and was Editor of the Insurance Law Journal for 5 years. He has a strong commitment to law reform and has served as Chairman of the Law Reform Commission for the Republic of Fiji and as a consultant to the Law Reform Commission of Victoria in Australia.

Mr Tarr was formerly the Sir Gerard Brennan Professor of Law and Dean of the School of Law at the University of Queensland (1998-2002), was Foundation Professor of Law and Dean at Bond University (1988-1991) and was Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Law Society (1992-1997). He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and was Chairman of the Advisory Council to the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Sport and Recreation Association, Inc. for 6 years. He is a member of the International Bar Association, a Fellow of the Indiana Bar Foundation, a Distinguished Fellow of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation, vice-president of the Indianapolis Bar Association (2004), and a director on the board of the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society.

November 10, 2004

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