30 Aug 2013

French Polynesians stunned at airline chief's appointment

5:28 pm on 30 August 2013

The public in French Polynesia has been stunned by the announcement that a retired French high commissioner is set to return to run the territory's domestic airline.

The job was not advertised in a territory which is plagued with high unemployment. Out-of-work graduates have taken to the streets recently and a new demonstration is now planned outside the French High Commission in Tahiti.

The opposition's media spokesperson, Moetai Brotherson, explains.

MOETAI BROTHERSON: After Gaston Flosse announced during the Minister's Council that he was about to hire Jean-Pierre Laflaquiere as CEO of Air Tahiti, there was an outrage on the social networks, on Facebook, with so many young people being fed up because it's not the first. Since the new government there has been at least 15 jobs like this offered to French expatriates without even consulting the students, our young people, who are working abroad. So many young people contacted us and asked for that manifestation.

WALTER ZWEIFEL: Of course this is a senior job. Wouldn't a person like Mr Laflaquiere be qualified, or better qualified, than a graduate?

MB: Well, we're not talking only about fresh graduates. We have young people, I would say, in their 30s or mid-40s who are currently working in France, in the US or in many European countries because they couldn't find a position here. And some of them are highly qualified, especially in the aeronautics field in which Mr Laflaquiere doesn't have any experience. He was a high commissioner. He's been working in administration for his whole career. He has no experience with the private sector whatsoever. If Mr Flosse was to pick true experience for the CEO of Air Tahiti, he would have launched a request for that in the newspapers and with the requirements. But this is obviously just a way for Flosse to say thank you to Jean-Pierre Laflaquiere who's been very docile since his re-election. We have two problems here - the first problem is Mr Flosse is disregarding the young Polynesians and the Polynesians in general when it comes to top jobs and even management jobs. The second problem is specific to Mr Laflaquiere. Here we have the guy who has been the last high commissioner here. He was the representative of the French republic here, And there was a mayor in the Leeward Islands - Mr Cyril Tetuanui - who belongs to Flosse's majority, who has been sentenced and was to be dismissed of his mayor's position. That was the job of the high commissioner at the time and he didn't do it. So now, out of nowhere, that same guy, that didn't apply a decision by a French court of justice is being hired as the CEO of Air Tahiti.