NEWS

Sayed-Khaiyum Dismisses Conflict Of Interest Allegations

Air Terminal Services board chairman Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has dismissed allegations that there was a conflict of interest in his appointment. Amid a bitter ongoing standoff between management and the workers
17 Jan 2018 11:56
Sayed-Khaiyum  Dismisses Conflict Of Interest Allegations
ATS Board chairman Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Air Terminal Services board chairman Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has dismissed allegations that there was a conflict of interest in his appointment.

Amid a bitter ongoing standoff between management and the workers of ATS, several unionists and politicians have also called for his resignation, alleging a conflict of interest in his appointment.

But the chairman, whose brother Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum serves as the Minister for Civil Aviation, said comments about his fitness for the role illustrated how politicised the dispute had become.

“I believe it is political because when they talk about me they associate me with the Minister and then the Prime Minister so you can see how it’s turning into a political issue,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was responding to the allegations yesterday by Fiji Trades Union Congress General Secretary Felix Anthony that his appointment as the board chairman of ATS was a conflict of interest.

“First of all there’s a conflict of interest because he’s got his elder brother (Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum) sitting as Minister (of Civil Aviation),” Mr Anthony said when questioned about the appointment of Mr Sayed-Khaiyum as the chairman of the ATS board.

However, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said his appointment was made by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“I was appointed to the ATS board in 2012, (by the Prime Minister) before the elections and in 2016, I was appointed as the chair,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“In all that time, and even after I got appointed as chair, until about a couple of weeks ago after the protest had started, no one had any problems with my chairmanship.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said he accepted the request by the Prime Minister in order to serve his country and received no salary for the position.

“The fact of the matter is that if I am taking out Fiji Broadcasting Corporation time to do ATS work, shouldn’t FBC get paid for that because I get paid by them anyway,” he said.

“Believe me, I’m not the only one who does this; I know of quite a few officers in Government and in different ministries who serve on other boards and do not get a single cent.”

Mr Anthony said the whole situation (dispute) had been “mismanaged and the chairman must cop the blame for it.”

Mr Anthony has been vocal in his calls for the chairman to resign.

“We need not have all of this. If he (Mr Sayed-Khaiyum) was so troubled by people attending a shareholders’ meeting there is a procedure in the collective agreement that the management needs to follow,” he said.

He said that a lock out was unnecessary.

The trade unions and ATS board continue to be at loggerheads over the dispute.

While the workers’ maintained their position that the workers had been locked out, the management says, it was an illegal walkout.

A protest march in the capital city is planned for February 24 for which a permit application had already been made, Mr Anthony said.

Police say about 2500 took part in a march in Nadi last Saturday.

The standoff enters its 32nd day today.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

Fijisun E-edition
Total Excellium
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper