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Opposition Leader Philip J. Pierre has taken issue with the appointment of Hubert James to the Public Service Commission (PSC).
He believes that James is too politically aligned to the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) to be an impartial member on the commission.
But speaking to the media, James has said that while he is a supporter of the UWP he considers himself to be fair and does not practice victimisation.
The constitution states in Section 85 that a person shall not qualify to sit on the commission, only if he or she is a senator or member of the house or if he/she has at any time during the three years prior to his/her appointment been a judge of the Supreme Court or public officer. The law also states that members of the commission should be appointed by the governor general upon the advice of the prime minister, provided that he consults the opposition leader before presenting such advice.
According to opposition leader Pierre, he received correspondence of the prime minister’s proposed appointee but did not agree to it and responded in a letter saying just that: “I thought that individual was too political. That individual is an active member of the United Workers Party (UWP).”
“He’s campaigned tirelessly against me personally, I know that. The public knows that. The Public Service Sommission is supposed to be made up of people who cannot be influenced according to the constitution. It says that people on the Public Service Commission should act in their own deliberate judgement and they should not be influenced by any authority or any other power. And I believe that individual, because of his deep political roots, because of his deep support for the United Workers Party, will be influenced and in his deliberations. He will not be unbiased or fair,” Pierre said to HTS News4orce.
At an SLP market steps meeting on Thursday, November 23, Pierre said the PSC ought to be a body with some level of impartiality but “Hubert James is a functionary, he’s an advocate, he’s a campaigner of the United Workers Party. He’s an operative. He was on a platform all over Castries East campaigning against me.”
“I said [in a letter] to Allen Chastanet through the Cab Sec do not appoint Hubert James… because Hubert James will not be able to have the impartiality to make appointments according to merit on the civil service. He never even acknowledged receipt of my letter,” Pierre said.
Meanwhile, in an interview with HTS News4orce, James said that the constitution only forbids appointing senators of the House and not supporters of political parties.
As to Pierre’s accusations of biasness, he said: “That is an illusion of somebody’s mind because if people know me very well I do not care who you are. As long as you are wrong I believe you’re wrong. I don’t care whether you black, red, yellow or blue. It does not make a difference to me… I have always stood for justice so therefore if persons may have their views of whether because I … spoke on a platform that [it] makes me…not impartial I think that is a very uninformed statement,” he said.
“I have read the constitution… it only said, a person cannot be a member of the Public Service Commission if you are a senator of parliament. So therefore, I have never been a senator. I have never been a member of parliament. I have contributed to my country I think, the best that I can… So therefore I don’t see any crime in that…A lot of people who have been in on the public service have been political supporters. Is it because they have not been on a platform that makes them ‘not a political supporter’? So, I mean, I don’t understand, it is just that I think the person knows the kind of person that I am and they… afraid of what’s going to happen. I don’t victimise people my friend. I am somebody who always defend the rights and cause of people and anybody who knows me,” James said.
Section 85 subsection (12) of the constitution states that, “The constitution shall in the exercise of its functions under the constitution, not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.”
Among the roles of the PSC are: the hiring and firing of public servants, building public confidence in the public sector and promoting and maintaining the highest levels of integrity, impartiality accountability and leadership across the government sector.