- “It is just a case of the house slaves carrying out the wish of the master.” – Otto Sam
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, May 17, IWN – Otto Sam, the public servant who was fired on Wednesday for a letter he wrote in a newspaper in July 2012 says he will sue the government and write a book about his run-ins with the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party administration.
Sam was a public servant for 33 years but his letter of dismissal did not say if he would be compensated for his service to the nation.
He was an educator for 30 years before he was transferred to the National Emergency Management Organisation three years ago.
He received a letter on Wednesday saying that his status as a public servant was terminated.
In his letter last year, published in two local newspapers under the caption “NEMO –an interesting organisation”, Sam said NEMO’s staff has not met since September 2011, although the 2012 hurricane season began on June 1.
The Public Service Commissions (PSC) took action under Section 45 of its regulation and sent Sam home on half pay, pending the outcome of an investigation.
Sam told I-Witness News in interviews on Thursday and Friday (today) that he was notified of the dismissal by a hand-delivered letter signed by Chief Personnel Officer, Kattian Barnwell.
He was assigned to NEMO but his last official post in the Public Service was headteacher of the South Rivers Methodist School, and the letter said he was relieved of both assignments.
While the dismissal stems from the letter last July, which the State argued amounted to misconduct under Article 3.2 of the Civil Service Orders, the decision to fire him was made a long time ago and the tribunal, chaired by assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Colin John, was “just a show”, Sam said.
He said it was “very interesting” that Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Colin John, chaired the tribunal.
And if you listen to the tribunal, you will see that what transpired had nothing to do with this decision.”
Sam said he plans to appeal to the PSC but the court and God will also have their say.
“We will appeal to that (the PSC). But they are the ones who make the decision. It is unlikely that they will change their decision. We will appeal to it as part of procedure. I expect the court to base [its ruling] on what is before it in law, not on feelings.”
“… And I know that God will prevail so I am not really worried about it one way or the other…
“I think what is happening here, there is no regard for the judicial principles, etc. in terms of the Service Commissions. It is just a case of the house slaves carrying out the wish of the master. And, obviously, we will have to ask the court to review their action.”
Sam said that before going public with his newspaper article, he had written to the director and deputy director of NEMO, the Permanent Secretary, and the Chief Personnel Officer about the issues he raised.
“… and the issues raised were surface issues really. They are within the line of 10.1 of the Constitution and I didn’t transgress there, clearly. It is an issue of one’s constitutional right being violated,” he said.
Clause 10.1 of the Constitution speaks to freedom to hold, receive and express ideas.
Sam has been a prolific writer of letters in the newspaper, expressing his opinion on a range of issues under the ULP administration — of which he was a staunch supporter — and its predecessor, the New Democratic Party government.
He said of the ULP administration reaction to dissenting voices:
“What we are clearly seeing, it is an effort to have one rat in the hole, there ought o be no other voice in this country, it is an effort to intimidate people. We have seen the worst of it all. We have never seen it like this, for sure. Everybody must be silent, once you are not praising, once you are not idol worshiping, and I am not from that school.”
Of his dismissal, Sam said:
“I don’t want to say that it is political but it is clear that the actions of the Service Commissions, as it relates to my transfer, as it relates to this matter, … there is no basis, there is no rational, we cannot see anything. So, clearly, the instructions are coming from elsewhere…
“I think the actions of the Service Commissions over the last three years was meant to hurt me — damage my professional career, create particular situation of hurt and that is clear.”
Sam said that for two years, he did “virtually nothing” at NEMO, a situation, he said, that contravened his letter of appointment.
But Sam is stoic in the face of the latest development.
“I lived for 17 years without working and God kept me. I think he is able to keep me this period so I am not too worried. … I don’t think this matter is bigger than Him. I think it is in his hands, in his control.”
Sam is married and has children, but says he does not want pity.
“I have the things that people do. I have bills to pay at the end of month. I have a family to take care of. I have my mortgage to take care of. I don’t want to sound as if I am complaining, because I don’t want any sympathy or pity from anybody. I firmly believe that God will have the final say on this and have the final laugh on it,” Sam said.
“I will give my full views on all these matter, probably in a publication a year from now,” he further said.