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Monday, 17 February 2014

Confusion of Confusions

Here is the "Confusion of confusions", overheard these days at UNITECH by our friends. Allow me to clear up these matters, before these untruthful stories take hold in the people's minds.

First confusion: "The VC deserves to be dismissed because he has been critical of David Arore mismanagement of the UNITECH saga on his FB page." This is typical a case of blaming the victim.

Recently, I said everything I wanted to say at my official speech for the opening of the Academic Year on 3 February 2014 on youtube, where I mention among other things the UNITECH saga. It is all based on published facts, which can be easily verified checked.

Television and newspapers no longer rule, we all better start to live with that. More and more, the social media seem to make some politicians so nervous, so much so that they have asked to be briefed about it every day.

Indeed, I have made public comments on my FB page and blog about David Arore's broken promises, and his confusion about his powers over the Council. I also pointed out that by his disgraceful performance on national television on 20 December 2013 he created a conflict with the UNITECH Council and staff organisations. This is certainly no legal reason for denying me a visa or my dismissal. For over 1 year he did nothing to bring UNITECH saga to an end, but rather prolonged it. In all this time, I never wrote anything inappropriate or untoward.

My facebook page is public, and I accept UNITECH stakeholders as friends. I never hide behind a fake name. I post articles written by others on UNITECH on my blog, but a re-post is not necessarily an endorsement. A FB "like" is not an endorsement either, it can mean many things. However, I am not responsible for the articles in or other anonymous publications.

Let's not forget who is a threat here. I was kicked out of the country twice, unlawfully, with total disregard for due process, and for no reason whatsoever, as has now been amply demonstrated by two investigation teams. Should I maybe praise this course of action? Should I commend those responsible for prolonging the UNITECH saga unduly, ever since the Sevua Report was presented to the PM on 29 May 2013?

Last time I checked, PNG a constitutional democracy where the freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Constitution Art. 46: "(1) Every person has the right to freedom of expression and publication, except to the extent that the exercise of that right is regulated or restricted by a law". In fact, freedom of expression and the press are required to provide the necessary checks and balances in any democracy.

Lately, there is another instance of curtailing the freedom of speech. On Wed. 19 Feb. 2014 Mr. Ken Polin who peacefully and responsibly spoke up for what is true, was asked to resign by the Acting Management of UNITECH in their confusion. I am so sorry about this, and it needs to be redressed.

Second confusion: "Schram is no longer VC. UNITECH will be fine without Schram". This view has repeatedly been published by the media. While denying me the right to express my views, our adversaries are free to spread disinformation. I have never been legally dismissed, so I am still VC.

The second statement is more subtle and rhetorical. Of course, normally the fate of an institution will never depend on one individual. When the institution itself, however, is attacked, and due process and the rule of law ignored, then one person becomes a symbol for larger issues at stake. This is what happened in my case.

If politicians dictate the university's independent and autonomous Council, appoint and fire individuals at will, or deport them, then UNITECH as an institution is under attack. Fortunately, staff, students, alumni, and all other stakeholders will not allow this to happen.

Third confusion: "The VC's stay in Australia is costing UNITECH dearly". Totally untrue. I rent a modest apartment and car. My expenses for 1 year are much less than the extra vehicles for staff that were bought recently. Moreover, I saved the university millions by reversing bad decisions by the previous management.  By the way, my expenses have not been reimbursed since last June. I have been spending my inheritance and savings for UNITECH. What is worse, my name has been tarnished and it will be hard for me to find another job in academia.

I continue to work for UNITECH and I am available for consultation with colleagues between 7.45 am and 4.06 pm as per my contract. I never relinquished my powers as Vice-Chancellor, merely delegated them to an Acting Management Team. If my colleagues in acting capacity do not wish to make use of that, it is their responsibility.

Fourth confusion: "The VC is supposed to convince the government to give him back an employment visa. UNITECH management need not do anything therefore."

How can I convince the government if Waigani does not want to talk to me, treat me as an undesirable alien, and does not answer my emails or letters? Since February 2012, I sent 3 letters by email and fax, plus my visa application, and I never received an answer, or even an acknowledgement of receipt. They have left me very little choice.

Regrettably, the acting management team now seems to have chosen again to rule by fear, blaming the victims and shooting the messengers. Fortunately, so far our Chancellor, UNITECH Council, and all UNITECH staff organisations apparently are not confused at all, and have clearly taken action in favour of my return. Thank you!

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