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Past PM Barrow says Briceno handled Daniel Chi situation wholly wrong

Daniel Chi may lose his job if the Public Service Commission agrees with the recommendation from the Ministry of Sustainable Development. The ministry recommended that Chi be fired after being accused of hanging up the phone on Prime Minister John Briceno when inquiries were made over the decision to quarantine Dianni Chan’s plants. Chi had initially reached out to former Prime Minister Dean Barrow for legal advice. Barrow says that Briceno did not follow the change of command on what is a simple matter.  

Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister of Belize: “In those circumstances though the Prime Minister needs to call those that are answerable directly to him in this case CEOs , remember they’re not public officers subject to the Public Services Commission they are direct appointees of the Prime Minister. You call the CEO and you say ‘This is the situation. Please inquire into the circumstances for me if what the constituent is telling me is correct it seems that the constituent is being hard done by.’ If that’s what had happened that would have been fine but two things or two among several things are particularly wrong. You don’t assume that the citizen who is making the complaint to you is correct and in this case as I understand it Mr.Chi was following the orders of his immediate superiors and he and his superiors had every right to detain those plants. So that’s the first way in which I think the Prime Minister went way wrong. He apparently assumed that what Ms.Chan or Ms.Chan’s mother who worked for him and again you have to worry about the fact that while you are to serve all citizens you’re not acting because of a special relationship you have with somebody who is your employee if you’re Prime Minister. But I think he was wrong, not I think I know he was wrong in the assumptions he made and then secondly you don’t call Mr.Chi who is in fact a public officers and is supposed to be politically insulated. You call as I said the CEO who cannot be politically insulated from you because you appoint that CEO as a political appointee do it that way. You don’t call the public officer that is way way wrong and further more I am saying I believe Mr.Chi’s version of events. Prime Minister absolutely wrong. Completely in error to have sought to get in touch with Mr.Chi personally instead of following the hierarchy.”

Barrow explained today that prior to the recommendation for Chi to be fired, he spoke with Chi about what transpired. According to Barrow’s account, Chi did not even have a phone to hang up on the Prime Minister. It was Briceno’s employee, who is Chan’s mother, called via WhatsApp and the call dropped. There was simply no way that Chi could have verified that it was indeed the PM on the phone.  Barrow insisted that to even contemplate firing Chi is wrong. 

Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister of Belize: “Mr.Chi said I never held a phone, I could never had put down the phone on him so the Prime Minister is way way wrong and it is a travesty that somebody like Mr.Chi who as far as we know is an honest public officer doing his job to be penalized by the Prime Minister first of all by publicly accusing Mr.Chi of having been disrespectful to the head of government and then furthermore now by having Mr.Chi disciplined by his CEO , being put on administrative leave, given a letter saying that you in fact were disrespectful without as I understand it having given Mr.Chi a proper hearing and to follow that up by suggesting that or recommending that Mr.Chi be terminated that stinks to high heaven. It is cruel, it is vindictive, it constitutes in my view grave wrongdoing and should be condemned by all right-thinking citizens.”

Barrow added that Chi has a good case against the government, and even more so now, given the most recent developments. 

Dean Barrow, Former Prime Minister of Belize: “There was no doubt in my mind after I first spoke to Mr.Chi that he had a case and he has even more of a case now. I haven’t spoken to him since this last development but from what I’ve heard and just the fact that this recommendation or this effort ot pursue a course of action that could lead to his dismissal since I know the circumstances out of which this arose I am saying, I am going on record to you and to the rest of the media and to the country that there is no way this can be correct and there is no way in my view that any court would sustain any such decision.”

As we noted, while the Ministry has recommended that Chi be fired, it is the Public Service Commission, that has the final say.