2 Nov 2004

Fiji government accused of making a racist appointment

11:09 am on 2 November 2004

The Fiji government is facing strong allegations of racism in the appointment of a new vice chancellor for the University of the South Pacific.

Fiji TV reports that the USP council has appointed an American academic now based in Australia, Dr Anthony Ashton Tarr, to succeed Savenaca Siwatibau, who died last year.

In doing so, it bypassed the longtime acting vice chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra.

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says he has been reliably informed that several regional governments supported Professor Chandra for the position but the Fiji government blocked it.

Mr Chaudhry says this is discrimination against ethnic Indians and it is highly frustrating for professionals who are really needed in Fiji to be treated in this way.

The general secretary of the National Federation Party, Pramod Rae, says the fact that neither Professor Chandra nor anyone from the South Pacific region were appointed and an American was brought in, raises serious questions.