outback to jungle

Musings on experiences of volunteering in Papua New Guinea with some gratuitous domestic social and public comment

Thursday, March 15, 2007

from the National 15th March

"Tension high at Unitech
MEMBERS of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the PNG University of Technology are stepping down as tension on the campus rise and the crisis worsens with the academic year in doubt following the resignation of over 60 national lecturers. The National Court also ordered yesterday that four leaders of the National Academic Staff Association (NASA), who are on bail be arrested again and brought to Port Moresby to face a judge for contempt. The SRC leaders have offered to resign if no solution is found to allow classes to begin on Monday. No one wants to admit it but tension is running high as panic grips the students that their academic year may be in doubt. Many of them are angry and frustrated over the delay in classes brought about by the deadlock in the negotiations between the NASA and the university council and the subsequent mass resignation of academics last Sunday. “We are urging the students to stay calm. There is panic here following NASA members’ decision to resign from their respective jobs. We the student leaders cannot say for certain what will happen on Monday, when the students find that they cannot go to classes,” one student leader said. NASA caretaker president Dr Loko Anota yesterday said they were still waiting for a response from the council on their resignation letters. Meanwhile, in Port Moresby Justice Ambeng Kandakasi issued fresh orders for the four top executives of NASA to be arrested again, and this time be detained until they are brought to Port Moresby to face him. The four were arrested last Sunday for contempt of court but released on bail, but failed to appear before Justice Kandakasi in a hearing yesterday. The four NASA executives are president Pulas Yowat, his deputy Robert Songan, secretary Raymond Bure and treasurer Gibson Tito. Lawyers explained to the judge that the four were part of the 64 staff who resigned on Sunday over the impasse with the Unitech administration, and were no longer considered staff of the university. The two disputing parties had also agreed to drop the contempt charges and that NASA members had agreed to return to classes on the condition that the current university administration was sidelined. But Justice Kandakasi said the contempt of court charges were not for the union members and the university council to deal with in their deliberations. “The issue before this court is about the contempt charges. The issue against the NASA members are now a court matter and must be dealt with in this court,” Justice Kandakasi pointed out and ordered that there be another warrant of arrest issued for the arrest of the four academics. Justice Kandakasi said the NASA executives had also breached their bail conditions when they were released. He said once the four executives were arrested they were not to be allowed bail until they are transferred to Port Moresby to appear before him."


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