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Nobody handpicked her for the job!
"She responded to an advertisement and was
interviewed and was successful, and she shouldn t
be discriminated against---all citizens are entitled
to jobs," Health Minister Fuad Khan said yesterday.
Commenting on his wife s new job as NWRHA
health director, Khan added: "She ll do well. She s
highly qualified and they re getting free legal advice
on medico-legal issues."
After saying earlier in the year that if his wife
got the job it might have placed him in a "precarious
position," Khan said he has now reconsidered and
believes: "Everyone deserves a chance to do what
they can do best, whether she s my wife or not.
The process was transparent and I would always
stand behind the proper process."
Pressed on perceptions that could arise from the
situation, Khan said: "Personally, at this time, she
has her own brain, her own body and she has her
own mind and she s doing a job she s trained to
do...so be it. But if her doing that job puts me in
jeopardy then we have a very immature society."
Khan said while the PP had a policy that the
husbands and wives of ministers should not have
board positions, his wife s job was not a political
appointment, since she applied for a job, was inter-
viewed for it and was successful.
"So nobody handpicked her," he reiterated. (GA)
The spotlight must now fall on Health Minister
Fuad Khan following the appointment of Khan s
wife Carol Bhagan-Khan as NWRHA director of
health, says People s National Movement (PNM)
Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne.
"Given Minister Khan s reported statement earlier
this year that such an appointment would put him
in a precarious position, one would want to know
if he remains in a precarious position and if he
views this appointment as a conflict of interest,"
Browne said yesterday.
"Even though Bhagan-Khan may not be reporting
to the minister directly, she would be reporting to
a board of directors appointed by the minister
"The NWRHA board would do well to explain
how she didn t succeed last year and placed first
Browne said he understood Bhagan-Khan was
first interviewed by the NWRHA for the post in
2012 and "didn t succeed" and was subsequently
interviewed again in April 2013.
"She was interviewed by a board appointed by
the Minister of Health and my information is that
she was being appointed as of May 1, 2013...the
Health Minister then admitted in a media interview
that it put him a precarious position," he said.
"But clearly all this was aimed at allowing the
controversy to die down before the position was
quietly offered and accepted.
"So the spotlight must once again fall on this
Health Minister who seems to have had numerous
challenges throughout his tenure, including the
credit card issue, moonlighting at a private hospital
he was involved with ---on which the Prime Minister
gave him an ultimatum---and now his wife s appoint-
ment to this health position."
Friday, November 15, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Carol: I'm qualified
for 14th NOVEMBER, 2013
Members of Ghulam Hussain Hosay Yard parade along Serpentine Road, St Clair, yesterday, during the tenth day of Ashura, which
culminates in the burial of the tadjahs in the annual hosay celebrations. Hosay commemorates the battle of Karbala, which took
place in present day Iraq. PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
From page A1
After the furore broke, Bhagan-Khan said
she was undecided about the job and hadn t
made a definite decision on it. She was sub-
sequently reported as saying she was never
formally "offered" any top paying job and
if she was, she no longer wanted it.
Bhagan-Khan, at the time, also said her
husband had raised concerns about her going
for the interview. But she said she opted to
go since she was qualified for the post and
should not have been barred from applying
because of her relationship with the minister.
Contacted by the T&T Guardian yesterday,
Bhagan-Khan confirmed she had changed
her mind on the issue after being approached
by NWRHA a few months ago.
"I don t see why not, since I have the
freedom to make a choice or to change my
mind if I wish in T&T," she added.
Bhagan-Khan, former chairman of the
Occupational Safety and Health Authority,
said she had never got a firm offer in writing
before acceptance this time. She said she
was contacted by the NWRHA a few months
ago with the news that the post had not
been filled and if she was still interested,
since she was qualified for it.
She said she deliberated on the matter
and took a while before she changed her
mind, around October.
Explaining the genesis of the situation,
Bhagan-Khan said she first applied for the
position last year when the post was adver-
tised. At the time, she said even though she
came first in the interview in 2012, she wasn t
chosen. She said she believed this was due
to concerns the board had about the
The job, it is understood, went to another
NWRHA officer who acted in the post until
it came up for renewal in 2013 and was
advertised again. She said she applied when
the post was advertised again in April 2013
and topped applicants again.
Bhagan-Khan said that in April the issue
of public perception regarding favouritism
arose again, but it was also noted by some
board members that she would be reporting
to the board and not her husband. She said
she felt if the issue about her husband had
disqualified her, she would have been dis-
She said, however, that despite the fact
she topped the second interview, she put
the job issue behind after criticisms arose
in the public domain in April.
But Bhagan-Khan said after being
approached a few months ago and told the
post was still vacant, she changed her mind
and accepted. She said this was particularly
because after the furor, she received many
calls of support from people who said she
should not have refused the job offer as she
was qualified for it. She said she felt she
would have been depriving the public---and
T&T---of her wealth of expertise if she had
not applied for the job.
She added: "I have legal expertise in addi-
tion to other qualifications in the field, so
for instance I would be well placed to scru-
tinise contracts and see if they are viable or
not and determine if various procedures are
cost effective; so I have a lot to offer."
Asked about conflict of interest in the sit-
uation because of her husband s position,
Bhagan-Khan said she did not see this aris-
ing, since she had been given special assign-
ments and a specific job description and
answers to the NWRHA board and CEO.
She said her husband didn t interfere in
"...And I plan to do my best," she added.
Dr Suresh Pooran, who acted in the post
since January 2010 and was shortlisted for
the post, was said by the NWRHA in April
"to be not interested in the post."
Yesterday, however, health sources indi-
cated "some people were still sore" at Bha-
gan-Khan s taking up the post.
Board chair: Good choice
NWRHA chairman Haqq said yesterday
that Carol Bhagan-Khan had topped appli-
cants both times she went up for the post
of director of health.
He said all required procedures were
done---advertising, shortlisting and inter-
views. He said there was need to fill the
position for some time and it was advertised.
He said Bhagan-Khan applied and she topped
it the first time in 2012 and also in 2013
when the process was repeated.
Haqq said Bhagan-Khan was recently
contacted and informed, through mutual
agreement, of the job.
On conflict of interest, Haqq said once
all procedures were adhered to, as they were,
that would not arise.
On her functioning and her husband s
position, Haqq added: "I don t expect any
problems to arise as the minister has always
dealt very objectively. Mrs Bhagan-Khan
reports to the CEO and the CEO reports to
the board so that structure and process
remains in place."
Haqq said the CEO to whom Bhagan-
Khan reports is appointed by the board and
not the minister.
He also said the board was not appointed
by the current minister but had been
appointed in November 2010 when former
Health Minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis
was in place. She was shifted in 2011 and
Fuad Khan was appointed then. The board
was reappointed in 2012 with minor changes,
Fuad: She has
her own mind
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