THE Medical Board has been advised to withdraw the original letter of complaint against Dr Avinash Sawh, who had been accused of making racist statements in telephone calls with a former employee, and make a new decision on whether it should embark upon an enquiry.
The board, in a letter dated November 12, 2020, had cited five people who alleged that Sawh had “displayed blatant racism, used racial slurs, verbally abused an employee and showed strong evidence of discriminatory hiring practices.”
But in a letter on Monday, the board wrote to Sawh’s attorney Martin George and agreed there was a procedural flaw in the way the complaint had been received.
Attorney Rajiv Persad, who represents the board, said he agreed with George that the dispatching of November 12 letter without the council first obtaining signed complaint forms, was premature and that such a step should have been completed before the letter was sent.
Persad, however, said he disagreed with George that the flaw is so fundamental that it was incurable at this stage and advised the council to, at its next regular monthly meeting in February, to make a new decision.
He said the board notes the suggestion by Sawh that he will “strenuously” object to it seeking to, after the fact, attempt to rectify the flaw since this would taint the council of the medical board with a perceived bias and disqualify it from continuing to hear the matter.
“We applaud the creative construction of your threat, however we wish to point out that your client is, of course, welcome to take whatever steps he feels he is entitled to do in order to prevent any ‘rectifying of any lacuna (gap).’”
Newsday sought George’s reaction to Persad’s letter.
He recalled his letter of December 1, 2020, responding to the board’s original letter.
“If you recall, we answered with 100 pages of reply where we raised several objections, several procedural irregularities, and we based our claims on breaches of the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.”
George noted the board’s withdrawal of the letter and lamented any attempt by anyone to denigrate others on the basis of “race, class, ethnicity or otherwise.”
He said, “These are things which go against our Constitution, go against our national anthem and go against what our entire medical fraternity stands for.
“So notwithstanding that the medical board has withdrawn that letter with those five complainants, we certainly wish to work along with the medical board for the future to ensure a proper enforceable code of ethics, and that provisions are made to ensure there is the necessary training or re-training or sensitivity training, for those who need it, so things like that may never occur again in TT.”
George also urged the Government to establish a permanent race-relations council.
“It must, of course, have the power to institute penalties where necessary, so persons can make their complaint directly to this council, so we can improve the state and nature of race relations in TT and make it a better nation for us all.”