Public report on the improper appointment of Mr. Yves Niowenmal as Director of Health – April 29, 1998 - Emalus Campus
Mr. Niowenmal was trained as a nurse and had experience working as a nurse- anaesthetist in New Caledonia. On December 28, 1993, Acting Prime Minister Sethey Regenvanu appointed Mr. Niowenmal on a temporary basis to the position of nurse- anesthetist. The temporary appointment did not stipulate a specific duration of the appointment and therefore did not comply with article 57(4) of the Constitution in relation to temporary appointments.
On May 25, 1994, Prime Minister Maxime Carlot Korman appointed Mr. Niowenmal on a temporary basis to the post of Director of Health. Mr. Niowenmal was not qualified for this position and it was beyond his level of competence. Mr. Korman, in not specifying the duration of the appointment or basing the appointment on exceptional need breached article 57(4) of the Constitution. Complaints, suspensions and disciplinary proceedings in relation to Mr. Niowenmal followed his appointment. However, on May 5, 1995 the Public Service Commission, acting on the political instructions of Mr. Korman offered Mr. Niowenmal the permanent position of Director of Health. The provisions of the Public Service Staff Manual were breached in connection with this appointment.
On February 21, 1996, a Disciplinary Board met and dismissed Mr. Niowenmal on a charge of mishandling Government funds. Seven days later, Mr. Korman re-appointed Mr. Niowenmal to the temporary position of Director of Health. Mr. Niowenmal successfully appealed his dismissal on the grounds that the mishandling of Government funds took place on the authorization of Mr. Korman and Finance Minister Willie Jimmy.
On October 10, 1996, Mr. Niowenmal was subjected to further disciplinary proceedings for negligence, incompetence, disobedience, misuse of Government property and violations of the Public Service Act. As a result, he was dismissed on October 30.
The Ombudsman concluded that Mr. Korman acted in a blatantly unreasonable manner, compromised the fair exercise of his official duties and was in breach of the Leadership Code. In subjecting the Public Service Commission to his direction he compromised the independence of the Public Service Commission and was therefore in breach of article 60(4) of the Constitution. The Public Service Commission, (William Mael, Edwin Basil, Neil Steven and Kalpovi Mangawai) acted in breach of the Public Service Staff Manual and were in breach of the Leadership Code by compromising their independence in appointing Mr. Niowenmal as Director of Health.
· That the Attorney General review with each incoming (or Acting) Prime Minister their authority to make temporary appointments.
· That a standard letter of “temporary appointment” be designed to ensure compliance with the Public Service Staff Manual and the Constitution.
· That the Public Service Commission ensure that complete objective information is available in respect of candidates for appointment in the Public Service Commission.
· That Mr. Korman should not be appointed to the Council of Ministers in future.
Written by Edward R. Hill
UNDP Governance and Accountability Project
© Ombudsman of Vanuatu
Published here by University of the South Pacific, School of Law Web Site - www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj