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Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards

The Opposition United National Congress is seeking answers concerning two recent high-profile appointments involving public servants.

At a media conference in Port-of-Spain yesterday, the UNC claimed that the appointments of Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards to the board of directors of Angostura Holdings Limited and Kevon Swann as the new Industrial Court registrar require investigating.

According to Opposition Senator Wade Mark, Abdool-Richards ought to resign as Principal Medical Office after becoming an Angostura board member on November 16.

“She can’t find time for people who are dying. 28 dead yesterday (Saturday). We don’t know how many are dying today, but she is appointed by the Prime Minister on three boards…At a time when the country is overwhelmed by COVID cases,” Mark accused.

“This lady is conflicted. She’s conflicted and we call on the lady to resign immediately.”

MP Rudranath Indarsingh said Abdool-Richards has a duty to respond to UNC concerns that her involvement with Angostura may compromise her position as PMO.

“She has to answer as Principal Medical Officer of Trinidad and Tobago and her overall responsibility. Angostura Holdings Limited is engaged in the sale of alcohol. Based on that responsibility, is she performing her role and overall responsibilities?” he said.

Abdool-Richards has denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, adding that she followed proper procedure.

Angostura Holdings Limited also defended the appointment.

Meanwhile, the UNC also suggested that Swann, who was appointed as the Industrial Court registrar on November 10, has a number of questions to answer.

Indarsingh said there were claims that Swann’s appointment may not have followed proper procedure.

“Did he formally apply for this position? Was he interviewed by the full panel and Judicial and Legal Services Commission? And does he have any relationship with anyone on the Judicial and Legal Services Commission?” Indarsingh asked.

Indarsingh said the UNC received a chain of WhatsApp messages from a source allegedly showing Swann discussing his appointment with another person. According to Indarsingh, the alleged chain of messages could bring his appointment into disrepute.

“We do not want the Judicial and Legal Service Commission to suffer the same fate as the Police Service Commission of this country,” he said.

“It is important that the Industrial Court operates free from any kind of interference—whether it is one of political or personal relationships—or manoeuvring behind the scene.”

However, the UNC said it could not definitively confirm the legitimacy of the WhatsApp messages.

He alleged that there were workers at the JLSC who were expressing concern about Swann’s appointment. He claimed, however, that they are fearful of victimisation.

“They allege the post/role of registrar wasn’t advertised internally, as is precedent/tradition when a vacancy arises. This is dangerous in the context of the equality of treatment and equality of opportunity for all,” Indarsingh said.

Attempts to contact Swann for comment yesterday were unsuccessful as he did not answer his cellphone.