The expulsion of University of the South Pacific (USP) vice chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia and his wife from Fiji was a debacle watched across the region and frowned upon by many.
Prof Ahluwalia and his wife were arrested in their home by Fijian authorities and deported. He has labelled this action as draconian and gestapo like.
The Fijian government on the other hand denies any wrongdoing when executing this process, saying the academic was in clear violation of immigration laws.
The Fijian argument is that because they cancelled his work permit in Fiji, his contract with USP was deemed terminated.
Despite all of this, Prof Ahluwalia is willing to talk and find a solution to an impasse where the students are the ones losing out.
“I have no acrimony or problems with anyone despite being deported in the most draconian and gestapo like tactics,” said Prof Ahluwalia.
“My door is always open and I have no problems in talking with anyone. I am here to serve the Pacific region and I am here to serve my university.
“Of course Fiji benefits a lot. For every dollar it has invested, it gets nine back.”
“I am very strong believer in reconciliation and I write about it. From my side the door is always open despite the way I was treated.”
Relaxed in Samoa
After his expulsion from Fiji, Prof Ahluwalia worked remotely from Nauru and then later in Samoa.
He said Samoa is safer for him, stating “It has been a delight to be in Samoa and I am absolutely loving it. I have now been running the university for now remotely since August, first from Nauru then Samoa. It is absolutely not a problem. And now that I am located in my office in Samoa, it is very good and I have had no issues.”
“I must say that in Fiji, I always had to worry about what I was going to do next and I must life is safer, I feel safe and I don’t feel threatened in any way in Samoa. And it is a delight to work in a country where those kind of things don’t bother you anyway.”
Prof Ahluwalia said he would stay at USP as long as the USP Council wanted him to.