Friday, 10 March 2017

Suspicious move by Tourism Minister Kulang to revoke Museum board decision



The country’s most precious heritage and archaic – the National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG) is under threat like never before as malaise over its glory continue. 
It is under threat primarily because of greed of power as to who is and should run it since the four-year employment contract of its Director, Dr. Andrew Moutu lapsed on August 20, 2016. 
Dr. Moutu is entitled to natural justice and with the backing of the NMAG Board of Trustees (BOT) –resolution # 2070512 dated 7th May, 2012 - he submitted his performance report – Key Result Areas (KRA) 2012-2016 to the public service and Culture and Tourism Minister, Tobias Kulang to consider renewal, a procedural requirement. 
However, while waiting, he was surprised that National Executive Council (NEC) has already appointed a replacement acting director on his job, effectively displacing him since Nov 22 last year.

Aggrieved, the BOT went to Court – challenging the decision of the NEC on the basis that the NEC can only appoint a director on their recommendation because the NMAG Act 1992 section 20 (1) (b) specifically states that the director “shall be appointed for such period as the Trustees fix”.

The Resolution # 2070512 reads: “at the above meeting of the Board of Trustees, it was unanimously resolved that as per the requirement of the NMAG Act 1992 –section 20 (1) (b) that we set the term of the appointment of the Director for ten (10) years. The Trustees feel that this is a reasonable time for a professional Director to implement necessary changes to the Museum to bring its operations to world standard. We must advice the Minister to advice the NEC that period of the term of the appointment of Dr. Andrew Moutu as Director is ten (10) years”. 

In its Decision No. NG 13/2012 dated Aug 20, 2012, the NEC had “approved that the appointment (of Dr. Andrew Moutu) be for a term of four (4) years commencing on and from 20th August, 2012 as per section 20 (1) (b) of the National Museum and Art Gallery Act 1992 and Resolution of the Board of Trustees No. 2070512…” (para 5.).

While these contentious issues are before Court, the Minister has gone ahead and removed three Trustees of the NMAG and replaced them with a new three of his choice. 
Among others, primary reasons for their removal: not recognizing and willing to work with the “acting” director hence, insubordination and defying NEC decision; stopping the bank to allow the “acting” director to access the museum account. 

“Pursuant to Section 9 (d) of the NMAG Act 1992, I, as Minister empowered by this Act, remove you as the Trustee of the NMAG forthwith for your part in defying lawful instructions from me as Minister of State responsible for the museum. 

“Your involvement in authorizing a letter to the bank on 17th January, 2017 instructing the bank not to recognize the acting director to perform his normal financial powers is disturbing…
“Your actions have been distasteful and it leaves me with no option but to remove you as a member of the NMAG Trustee as the normal master-servant relationship is no longer possible,” Minister Kulang stated in a hand delivered letter dated Feb 13, 2017 to one of the removed Trustees.

Last week, one of the Minister’s newly appointed Trustees intervened and forcefully stopped a BOT meeting conducted by president, Julius Violaris damning him of “having no authority” to conduct such meeting. 

The Minister has also advertised (in today’s dailies March 09, 2017) the position of a NMAG director now that he has the purported quorum to endorse such advertisement. 

Photo caption:
#Dr. Andrew Moutu, who has a Doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D) degree and also post-doctoral qualifications in Anthropology and Sociology has become the latest victim of greed and power play in our country after been displaced as the Director of the country’s precious heritage and archaic – the National Museum and Art Gallery. Cyril Gare file pic 2017.



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