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Plea to PM

Nasik Swami
Sunday, January 04, 2015

FORMER acting permanent secretary for education Basundra Kumar has called on Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama to investigate Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy's role in her controversial exit from the ministry.

Mrs Kumar, a career civil servant who has spent 26 years in the education sector, said it would only be fair to the education system if the minister was removed since he had no understanding of it.

Yesterday, Dr Reddy refused to respond to Mrs Kumar's comments saying he was "fed-up" of the issue.

"Let her make allegations, she does it all the time, I don't want to know anything," Dr Reddy said.

Revealing her side of the story, Mrs Kumar said she was suspended from her position after returning from a week's leave.

"I informed them (ministry officials) that I would be taking my whole week's leave and that I would resume work again on Tuesday and nobody said anything to me that I was under investigation and that I would be investigated.

"In fact they should have called me in the office and told me 'you will be under investigation' and I would've taken it nicely that there is an investigation against me," Mrs Kumar said.

She said when she arrived home that particular day, a Government vehicle came with her suspension without pay letter and disclosures compiled by the director secondary and the ministry's team.

"I did not see any investigations or any letter from the Public Service Commission saying that as acting permanent secretary I had breaches and I was supposed to be investigated."

She said when she looked at the disclosures she became frustrated as it stated she was suspended indefinitely pending investigation.

"When I looked at the disclosure, I was quite frustrated, I thought, look at the Minister for Education - disciplining and sending me on suspension for no serious problem.

"Was there a need for him to send me home without pay when I had 68 days of leave still pending? If he wanted me to be out of office, he could've sent me on leave - my 26 years of clean record has been tarnished by this minister, it is his propaganda.

"I have worked with him and this is what he was wanting me to do for others but I was objecting and I was telling him to follow the Government disciplinary procedures and not sending people on suspension without any money," she said.

Mrs Kumar said the minister was elected by the people and it was not right for him to interfere with operational matters of the ministry.

She said she resigned as she was frustrated and alleged there was an 'outcry' by ministry officials as the minister was doing things his way and not by consultation.

"Ministry workers are not talking because they fear being victimised by the minister, they fear losing their jobs," Mrs Kumar said.

"This entire disregard to the government procedures and policies was very offensive and I thought this man (minister) is targeting to finish me off," she said.

Mrs Kumar said she decided to withdraw her resignation after comments made to the media by Dr Reddy that her reason to resign was to evade investigation.

"I decided immediately to withdraw my resignation and challenge the minister for a fair and independent investigation.

"In the letter that I have written, I have also said that I also want the minister to be investigated and the minister to be sent out of the office and an investigation be carried out by the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister so that everything surfaces because those officers that are working there in the ministry are under duress and I am very much aware," she said.

"When I looked at the disclosure, I was quite frustrated, I thought, look at the Minister for Education disciplining and sending me on suspension for no serious problem.

"Was there a need for him to send me home without pay when I had 68 days of leave still pending? If he wanted me to be out of office, he could've sent me on leave. My 26 years of clean record have been tarnished by this minister, it is his propaganda.

"I have worked with him and this is what he was wanting me to do for others but I was objecting and I was telling him to follow the Government disciplinary procedures and not sending people on suspension without any money," she said.

Mrs Kumar said the minister was elected by the people and it was not right for him to interfere with operational matters of the ministry.

She said she resigned as she was frustrated and alleged there was an 'outcry' by ministry officials as the minister was doing things his way and not by consultation.

"Ministry workers are not talking because they fear being victimised by the minister, they fear losing their jobs," Mrs Kumar said.

"This entire disregard to the government procedures and policies was very offensive and I thought this man (minister) is targeting to finish me off," she said.

Mrs Kumar said she decided to withdraw her resignation after comments made to the media by Dr Reddy that she resigned to avoid an investigation.

"I decided immediately to withdraw my resignation and challenge the minister for a fair and independent investigation.

"In the letter that I have written, I have also said that I also want the minister to be investigated and the minister to be sent out of the office and an investigation be carried out by the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister so that everything surfaces because those officers that are working there in the ministry are under duress and I am very much aware," she said.








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