The doctor from South Trinidad who was heard on numerous voice recordings last Wednesday using racist remarks and making threats to an employee has finally broken his silence.
Dr Avinash Sawh, who owns and operates Sawh’s Medical Associates in San Fernando apologised profusely yesterday during a press conference, hours before the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Board (TTMB) was due to meet to discuss his conduct.
Guardian Media tried contacting the board for an update from the meeting last evening but there was no response to calls or WhatsApp message.
Sawh read from a four-page prepared statement during the press conference, held at the office of his attorney, Martin George in Port-of-Spain. In an interview last week, George described Sawh’s comments as ‘reprehensible’ and said the TTMB could take disciplinary action against him.
“For those statements, I deeply and unreservedly apologise. There can be no justification for the statements that I made and I am stepping forth and manning up and I accept full responsibility for the national outcry that those statements have generated and the hurt that has been felt by varying sectors of the national community,” Sawh said.
In the now-viral recordings, Sawh was heard making racial statements about hiring Afro-Trinidadian nurses and labelling an Afro-Trinidian police officer as a “dunce n****.”
He was also heard boasting about threatening to kill multiple people and then paying off the police to avoid prosecution.
Yesterday, he apologised to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, his former employee – a nurse, his colleagues, his patients and the wider population.
“I recognise the effect of what I have done and I assure each Trinidadian and Tobagonian that I will henceforth devote myself towards charitable works and social contributions in my efforts to undo the hurt and harm that I have been responsible for inflicting on the nation and I have started this process by seeking professional help and guidance through this process,” Sawh said.
He said there was currently one East Indian nurse employed at his practice but vowed to hire staff on the basis of their qualifications and not their ethnicity in the future.
He said he has never paid a bribe to the TTPS.
When Guardian Media asked whether it was a coincidence that Sawh was apologising on the same day the TTMB is scheduled to meet, George said he had been in discussions with Sawh for several days but the timing had nothing to do with the TTMB meeting.
George said Sawh’s statements were merely a symptom of a greater issue in T&T.
He also called on the Government to create a permanent council on race relations.
But in an immediate response yesterday, the Emancipation Support Committee said they were looking forward to the TTMB decertifying Sawh.
“His behaviour and sentiments would be abhorrent under any circumstances but given his profession and the faith which people who need medical care would put in him such racist convictions become dangerous,” director of the Committee, Khafra Kambon said.
Kambon said now was not the time for inaction or delayed action.
“There should be no place for someone filled with such hate and bias to practice his profession on people of any ethnicity.”
But Kambon noted that Sawh’s statements were part of a larger societal problem.
He offered the services of the Committee to the TTMB to assist in giving doctors racial sensitivity training.