September 30, 2016

Those fired should be given due process

Dear Editor,

Several people told me they were happy to see Khurshid Sattaur go as head of GRA and several others who were terminated because of the way they ill-treated people. But Sattaur was not given due process according to law when he was terminated. The Government violated the law and those fired should seek legal address. They were replaced by APNU/AFC supporters.

Sattaur, like several others appointed by the PPP Government, rubbed too many people wrong, including this writer, and disrespected them. They were very arrogant as Bharrat Jagdeo stated recently costing the Party the government. Sattaur and others did not serve people with humility the way Jagan or a Vishnu Bisram would. But regardless of how Sattaur and others ill-treated people or how arrogant they were, they deserve due process, a fair fairing before termination from their job.

Government cannot fire people at will and replace them with party hawks.

I hold no brief for Sattaur or others who have been terminated. With regard to Sattaur, I never had reason for much interaction with him, but the two occasions I went to see him at his office, he was not helpful. On the latter occasion, he was outright disrespectful and as such, I should be pleased to see him fired. But I am a person of fair play and justice. He was wrongly terminated.

My visits to Sattaur’s office related to requests for granting customs waivers of small shipments of items I sent to non-profit organisations that were held up at the wharf for excessive duties. The non-profit charities were entitled to duty-free goods. I needed Sattaur to use his influence to speed up the process because I had to return to New York and the charities needed the gifts to hand out to orphanages and senior centres caring for the disabled. On the first request, he gave a flat no, but I succeeded in obtaining the approval in a roundabout way using contacts. In the second visit, he told his secretary for us (accompanied by Vishnu Bandhu, President of Arya Samaj) to make an appointment to see him. I explained the urgency of the matter. But Sattaur won’t budge because he does not have walk-in appointments. I agreed to make an appointment since I needed to clear the goods to distribute to the poor, disabled and less fortunate. But when Sattaur’s secretary told me the next available date was some two weeks later, I shook my head in disbelief. While we were chatting with the secretary, Sattaur walked out of his office, and he did not have the courtesy to say hello to Bandhu (whom Sattaur knows) or myself (whom he would not have known personally but would have been familiar with my name from my extensive writings). Bandhu had choice words to describe Sattaur. Sattaur’s behaviour, as well as that of others exposed by Jagdeo, revealed the kind of crude characters they were – arrogant – perhaps cut down to size now that they have been rendered “a nobody” by APNU/AFC. Thus, one can understand why many people don’t have sympathy for the likes of a Sattaur. As several people told me, Sattaur and the others behaved like they were on top of the world. People like them had/have no humility for those at the bottom of society, and it was their arrogance (that

President Jagdeo condemned) that brought about the defeat of the Party and the loss of their jobs (and all the perks and privileges that come with titles). What harm would have been done in Sattaur extending a courtesy greeting or a handshake as people like myself would offer to others? It was people like Bandhu and myself who fought for the restoration of democracy that gave Sattaur his job. But, as PPP supporters said, Sattaur was like a little king running his own fiefdom, and he couldn’t care less about the subjects he ruled as he and others never thought they would lose power. (As an aside, Bandhu and I were able to get the charitable goods out of customs before I departed the country and distributed to the needy who were very appreciative of the handouts). Nevertheless, Sattaur’s arrogant treatment of people (taxpayers) and the arrogant temperament of others who were in authority should not be reason to cheer their removal from office. I hold no bad blood for anyone, not even Freddie Kissoon who told so many lies on me, Ravi Dev, Baytoram Ramharack, etc. But Sattaur and others deserve due process.

The manner in which Sattaur and others were fired is unacceptable in a democratic society. It comes across as politically motivated and worst, as ethnic victimisation. It also brings back memories to how people, perceived to be affiliated with the PPP, during the 1960s, were fired by the PNC (now APNU) regime when it was installed into office in December 1964. During that period, historians would recall another Sattaur was also dismissed (from the security forces) and the history of what followed is well known – not good for the nation. Is this an omen of what is to come?

Yours truly,

Vishnu Bisram

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