Letters

Letters To The Editor, January 04, 2015

Basundra Saga Dr Sushil K. Sharma Lautoka   When a person of the calibre of an acting Permanent Secretary for Education, hands in her resignation, it is quite clear that
04 Jan 2015 10:15

Basundra Saga

Dr Sushil K. Sharma

Lautoka

 

When a person of the calibre of an acting Permanent Secretary for Education, hands in her resignation, it is quite clear that she would have done due diligence and thought about her actions, whatever the compelling reasons.

For a layman living on the streets, not aware of his or her legal rights and remedies, handing in a resignation and then requesting to withdraw it, may have received some sympathy from Fijians, but not

Basundra Kumar.

Mrs Kumar was a former Deputy Secretary for Primary and Secondary and also the acting Permanent Secretary of Education and she handed in her resignation on Monday (29/12/14).

This resignation was accepted immediately and on Tuesday (30/12/14) her leave pay and final salary was deposited in her account.

On the same day she returned her official mobile phone and completed the end of her tenure process, based on her own wish to resign from her post voluntarily.

However, as always, there is a twist to the tale.

On Wednesday 31/12/14, just one day before the New Year’s Day holiday, Mrs. Kumar appears to have either come to her senses –by re-assessing her situation, position, strategy, ploy, future without a job –whatever you may call it –and/or advised otherwise by her minders – and thus changed tack, and wrote again to the Ministry –this time to seek to withdraw her resignation.

Further, Mrs. Kumar created a media row, after her resignation had been accepted, seeking to withdraw her resignation; basing her request on the notion that her resignation was under duress and that she had a right to withdraw it. An officer who took an official letter of acceptance of the resignation was chased from her compound on Tuesday 30/12/14 and the officer needed a police escort the following day, to deliver the letter to Mrs. Kumar (“Basundra Row” FS 2/1/15).

In fact no employment contract universally accepted generally has any provisions for the special type of treatment that Mrs. Kumar, is seeking. Resignation was voluntary and any employer has the right to end the matters, as has been done is her case.

However, Mrs Kumar had only the good will of the employer at her disposal –to seek reinstatement- only possible if her relations were on better terms, which is not the case. She is wasting her valuable time and tarnishing her image needlessly in her attempts in seeking reinstatement, by trying to withdraw her letter of resignation.

It is clear from media reports (“Basundra Row” FS 2/1/15) that there appears to have been a group of senior staff, who were not co-operating and in fact destabilising matters, and were in favor of the former Permanent Secretary of Education, Brij Lal to be their Minister.

This would rank as the most important reason, for the employer to enforce its legal right to accept and honour the resignation request letter. No compromise is possible within this type of animated and hostile environment either.

The new Minister of Education Dr Reddy cannot be expected to work with any PS or acting PS Education, who is not seeing things on the same wavelength as their Minister; especially when the Ministry, under their guidance and support, will be undergoing major reforms this year.

Those who do not support the Government of the day, which includes the Minister under their portfolio, in their mission and visions, will need to be disciplined and their network completely destroyed –if reforms within the ministry are able to be up and running soon.

The permanent secretary of the Public Service Commission, Parmesh Chand, has also confirmed that the Ministry of Education followed the correct process and that the PSC was satisfied with the process and the actions taken in Mrs Kumar’s case.

This is a lesson to any public servants who have been destabilising matters.The government will not tolerate this type of behaviour.

Power play

Jalesi Nakarawa,

Hamilton, New Zealand

 

The fiasco pertaining to the former Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education illustrates interesting permutations of power being played out at the top of our political structure.

At the outset it is good to start with the short definition of government as ‘conduct of conduct.’ To conduct, implies to lead, to direct or to guide with the inference of a design on how this is to be done.

However, when one considers the ethical or moral sense of the word; ‘to conduct oneself’ is concerned with self-direction, appropriate to specific situations. As a noun ‘conduct’ refers to our behaviour or actions in accordance with established standards for whatever role we are performing.

In the circumstances, self-guidance or self-regulation in the context of ‘professional conduct’ is paramount. Presuming that there is a standard or norms of conduct within the civil service, as well as ministerial levels of government, by which individual actions/decisions are judged.

The current power play is between the two highest positions in a government ministry: the Permanent Secretary and the Minister. Whatever their core roles, the power of the Permanent Secretary is circumscribed by the rules of the game that binds civil servants. On the other hand, the Minister enjoys greater space in which to manoeuvre for various moves and the wherewithal to reinterpret the meaning of rules.

For career civil servants the rules are second nature, acquired over years of conformity. For politicians, it’s a new arena where the spoils of political power can be asphyxiating. In any event it will be interesting to see how the dispute pens out, or how the axe will fall.

At the end of the day it should be a learning curve for the government. Clear guidelines for the performance of ministerial functions is a must because political interference in mundane matters is not only non-productive but a recipe for disaster.

 

 




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