Pal thrilled at prospect of return : ‘We as a university are delighted’

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USP Vice Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia (right) talks to USP Student Association and staff members in an earlier picture Picture: ATU RASEA/File

EXILED University of the South Pacific vice-chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia says he is thrilled at the prospect of returning to Fiji.

Speaking to The Fiji Times from Los Angeles in the United States yesterday, he said Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka — when he was in Opposition — made a commitment to pay the outstanding debt in excess of $90 million to USP and to allow him to return to Fiji.

“Mr Rabuka said it, National Federation Party leader Prof Biman Prasad said it, and the Social Democratic Liberal Party leader also said it,” Prof Ahluwalia said.

“So it’s part of all three parties’ manifestos and part of their public statements, so we as a university are delighted that this amount that has been outstanding for so long will finally come to the university.

“It’s excellent news, not just for the Fijian students but for the entire region because the region has been carrying Fijian students for quite a while and there will now be a chance for us to do a lot of things that we have deferred and not been able to do, particularly issues around maintenance.

“It also means we can now aggressively look for quality academic staff.”

Mr Rabuka issued a statement on Boxing Day saying the prohibition order against Prof Ahluwalia had been lifted and he was welcome to travel to Fiji at any time.

Prof Ahluwalia and his wife Sandra Price claimed on Wednesday February 3, 2021, 15 people made up of immigration officials and police stormed into their USP home and forcefully removed them at about 11.30pm.

They claimed they were driven the same night to Nadi International Airport and deported on the morning of Thursday, February 4 to Australia.

The FijiFirst government on February 4, 2022 issued a statement that the Immigration Department had ordered Prof Aluwahlia and his partner Sandra Price to leave Fiji with immediate effect following continuous breaches by both individuals of Section 13 of the Immigration Act.

Government said under Section 13 of the Immigration Act 2003, no foreigner was permitted to conduct themselves in a manner prejudicial to the peace, defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, security, or good government of Fiji.

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