A report being perpetuated on local radio station BOOM FM’s “OMG In The Morning” program that NDP chairman Dr Linton Lewis had to give up his Senator’s salary as a pre-condition to his appointment by Opposition Leader and NDP President Arnhim Eustace, has no basis in reality.
Resulting claims and comments by OMG host Mr Dwight “Bing” Joseph to the effect that Mr Eustace “sold” the senatorship to Dr. Lewis have not only been mischievous, but outright defamatory of Mr Eustace, and also speak to the inability of some media houses and practitioners to do due diligence and research.
While it is the constitutional right of the broadcaster to use his station to advance his political agenda, he and the station enjoy a limited right.
They have no entitlement under law or morality to lie and thereby to defame those perceived as thwarting that agenda.
On the pertinent issue of the assignment of salary, either Dr Lewis misspoke, was not clear enough in his statement, or his comments were deliberately twisted.
But the facts, as borne out by history, are as follows:
Three teachers unsuccessfully contested the 2010 general elections on the NDP ticket: Messrs Kenroy Johnson, Elvis Daniel and Addison “Bash” Thomas.
Following that election they were blocked by the ULP Administration from taking up their former posts, despite their reliance on a collective bargaining agreement permitting such, which was entered into by the government with the Public Service Union. The teachers were unfairly punished by the regime for exercising their democratic rights under the constitution. They lost not only their jobs but all entitlements, such as pensions and gratuity.
The NDP hired Mr Thomas as its research officer. Eventually Mr Daniel gained comparable employment.
However, Mr Johnson, a highly qualified and distinguished teacher, remained unemployed.
As a result, Dr Lewis magnanimously offered to assign his entire Senator’s salary to Mr Johnson and Mr Daniel who had not yet found suitable employment. The matter was discussed with Messrs Daniel and Johnson who accepted Dr. Lewis’ offer.
Thus the full parliamentary salary was initially assigned to Messrs Daniel and Johnson in its entirety.
It was arranged that when Mr Daniel gained employment, Dr. Lewis’ full parliamentary salary went to Mr Johnson solely.
None of this was a pre-condition of Dr Lewis’ appointment; there was no sale by Mr Eustace or anyone in the NDP of a senatorship; no such pressure was brought to bear on Dr Lewis who is himself a lawyer and academic; and there has been neither discussion of assignment nor actual assignment of salary by Dr. Lewis’ predecessor or successor in Parliament.
The treatment of this issue by BOOM FM and Mr Bing Joseph is ribald and malicious and does a disservice to the facts, and to the men and women who honourably serve the New Democratic Party – and by extension the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. It will not be tolerated.
The New Democratic Party.