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“Khaiyum on economists not being analytical”. Letter to Editor (Fiji Times, Fiji Sun), 26 Aug 2014


“Khaiyum on economists (and journalists) not being critical analysts”
Letter to the Editor (Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, 26 August 2014)

Dear Sir

Mr Aiyaz Khaiyum has disparaged economists for not analyzing and critiquing party manifestoes and public policies, just as he previously disparaged journalists for not going beyond “he says this, and he says that” kind of superficial journalism.

I wish to remind Mr Khaiyum that in 2011, while I was on my sabbatical leave in Japan, the Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics (Professor Biman Prasad) forwarded me a letter (dated 29 May 2011) from the Deputy Chairman of USP Council (Mr Ikbal Janif) to the Vice Chancellor of USP (Professor Rajesh Chandra) and circulated to the Chair of USP Council (Fiame Mataafa) and Fay Yee & Co., stating,

“Further to the conversation we had in Rarotonga following the AG’s call to you, I have now read the article by Wadan, and comment as follows”.  The letter ended “we must act as a team to safe-guard USP”.

Soon after, I was summoned back from Japan, under duress, and the Vice Chancellor informed me that both the Attorney General (Aiyaz Khaiyum) and the Prime Minister (Voreqe Bainimarama) had complained in writing about my critiques of government policy (including FNPF’s extra-legal plans to reduce pensions), and that the Fiji Government was withholding some $30 million of funding because they “did not wish to pay the salaries of people like me”.

USP could not tell me what USP regulations I was breaching, nor why USP could not let the Fiji Government prosecute me if I was breaking Fiji’s laws in pursuit of my basic human right to freedom of speech.

USP management asked me to resign, I did so, and was sent packing with no institutional acknowledgement of my more than thirty five years of dedicated service to USP.

While by now we can expect Mr Aiyaz Khaiyum to very conveniently have a short memory when it suits him, the media might want to occasionally remind him about his shameless hypocrisy in asking economists (and journalists) to be critical analysts of public policy without fear of victimization.

The media should also ask Mr Khaiyum about the reasons for the forced departure of Mr Anish Chand from Fiji TV.

Professor Wadan Narsey


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