Hart’s flight

Newsday Editorial
March 08, 2010 – newsday.co.tt

PM Patrick Manning and Calder HartWeren’t you surprised? That was the question put to Newsday by Acting Prime Minister and Acting Head of the Cabinet, Dr Lenny Saith on Saturday evening. He was referring to the flight earlier on Saturday by Calder Hart before he could answer the many questions about his role in Udecott.

News of Hart’s resignation from Udecott and other State Boards had just been released via an unsigned announcement from Udecott, faxed to media houses. Some in Cabinet tried to weave a story about how Cabinet had decided to call on the Prime Minister to demand Hart’s resignation. This was probably the reason for announcing that a media conference in the offices of Information Minister Neil Parsanal was cancelled shortly after it was announced. People had to get their “stories” coordinated.

But it was Acting Prime Minister, Dr Lenny Saith, who scotched any notion that there was a Cabinet input into Hart’s sudden resignation and flight from Trinidad. Saith told Newsday: “The gentleman has done his job, he’s resigned.” He said that Hart’s resignation “has come as a surprise”, adding — “Weren’t you surprised?”

Well, if Cabinet had called on Manning to demand Hart’s resignation, how could Saith have been surprised. And to answer Saith’s question to us we say, No. We are not surprised. And since when has Manning taken any advice from anyone except perhaps his Spiritual Adviser?

Once Madame Justice Mira Dean-Armorer’s ruling shot down Udecott’s and Hart’s last desperate attempt to sabotage the Uff Commission of Inquiry, and the publication by Newsday and others of birth and marriage certificates showing direct links between Hart and the company to which he gave a multi-million dollar contract, we were on the lookout for Hart’s flight from Trinidad, and from justice. And indeed, the authorities should also have been on the lookout for this.

While many may be breathing sighs of relief, and even cheering that this man has resigned and fled pending the presentation of the Uff Report, we caution all to remember that Hart’s actions are really only the beginning of the long process of exposing much of the corruption and incompetence which occurred under his watch. The presentation of the Uff Report to President Maxwell Richards carries no assurance that it will ever be made public, and there is considerable precedent for that with Manning’s government.

Whether we can persuade the DPP and the Commissioner of Police to act upon recent revelations alone remains to be seen. They may well stall, saying they need to see the Uff Report’s confirmation of what we already know, and Manning may well keep the Report hidden. After all, can we forget that Manning went so far as to fire a senior Cabinet Minister and PNM stalwart in order to protect Hart?

But Keith Rowley, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, the Contractors’ Association and JCC, as well as the local branch of Transparency International can all feel duly vindicated in advance of seeing the Uff Report. Hart’s flight, on a reported one-way ticket on Saturday lays bare all of his denials and all of the preposterous praises Manning, Colm Imbert and others bestowed upon him.

We in the media claim no sense of vindication. We faithfully followed up on the revelations of Rowley and Maharaj, and we kept this story in the public domain, even when threatened with loss of government advertising, and even when Manning spuriously and self-righteously claimed that it was not “Calder Hart they are after, it is the Prime Minister”. Manning has abused the media over this issue, but as we stated in a recent editorial, we are reflecting the concerns of the people — and Manning cannot pretend that the people hold different opinions than the media on this issue.

He too, has “fled”, albeit temporarily, to attend prayers with the Queen of England. We ask, and not frivolously, if he has taken his Spiritual Adviser along? For his sake, we hope so for he has some serious explanations to provide upon his return, and the media have more questions to ask — such as, will Manning accept responsibility for Hart’s actions?


10 thoughts on “Hart’s flight”

    BEFORE CALDER Hart resigned as executive chairman in the wake of documents showing links between Hart and a company the Udecott board awarded $820 million in contracts, the Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Cabinet defended Hart and Udecott no less than forty-five times over the course of two years, all the while apparently taking no action to deal with allegations against Hart.

    Calder Hart left on one-way ticket to Florida
    CALDER HART, who fled Trinidad and Tobago to the United States mere hours before his resignation as Udecott executive chairman was announced on Saturday, left with his family on a one-way ticket, sources yesterday confirmed.

    Kamla: Prime Minister must account
    OPPOSITION LEADER Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday declared that Prime Minister Patrick Manning will account to the Parliament and the nation for the fiasco that has taken place at the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) under the stewardship of its former chairman Calder Hart.

    Warner calls for forensic probe
    According to United National Congress (UNC) chairman Jack Warner, the Government and Immigration authorities must ensure that no persons involved and implicated in the report of the Commission of Enquiry into Udecott and the local construction sector were allowed “to flee our shores.”

    Udecott appeal in limbo
    Any plans the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) had of appealing urgently, last Friday’s judgment, has been thrown in limbo, by the shock resignation of its executive chairman, Calder Hart.

    UNC: Board must resign or be fired
    The United National Congress (UNC) is calling for the immediate resignation of the entire board and that of Minister of Planning, Housing and the Environment, Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde.

    UDeCOTT board must go too
    With Mr Hart’s welcome, but long overdue departure from the board and the companies with which he has been associated, the rest of the UDeCOTT board must follow. Its members have been too public in defence of their own actions on behalf of the company, as well as in defence of their embattled chairman. They should not wait to be asked to do what is honourable in the circumstances.

    Resign for what!
    UDeCOTT board members not moving

    WE will not resign.

    ‘Resign like Calder Hart’
    FITUN president David Abdulah is calling for fellow trade unionist, Michael Annisette, and other Udecott board members to follow suit and resign just like executive chairman, Calder Hart, who gave up the post and fled the country, on Saturday.

    Udecott has done nothing wrong
    At least one board director at the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (Udecott), Senator Michael Annisette, has maintained that Udecott has “done nothing wrong.” Annisette stressed that Calder Hart’s decision to resign from Udecott as its executive chairman was Hart’s prerogative, and that it failed to act as an indictment of wrongdoing at Udecott. “That is his call (to resign)…That is his decision,” Annisette said. “I do not know what the circumstances were (or) what may have compelled him to make such decisions. Until I speak with him and until I get a feel (of why he did it), I do not want to speculate.

    Keith Smith: Patrick in peril

    Michael Harris: Does the PNM have a future?

    Ramesh wants criminal probe of Calder Hart

    Ramesh to Govt: Go after Calder Hart
    FORMER Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said yesterday Government should have moved swiftly to freeze the assets of former Udecott chairman, Calder Hart.

    Dookeran: We feel vindicated…after Hart’s resignation
    Buoyed by his party’s success in providing the critical documents linking former UDeCOTT chairman, Calder Hart to the directors of CH Development, a company which won a $368 million contract from UDeCOTT, Congress of the People leader Winston Dookeran said the work of the party’s legal team was vindicated by Hart’s resignation.

    Hart should not have been allowed to leave –Abdulah
    Calder Hart should not have been allowed to leave Trinidad and Tobago because there may be pending prosecutions involved, trade unionist and head of FITUN David Abdulah said yesterday

    After Hart, time to think…

  2. Duprey of Clico also took refuge out of T&T.
    Has the government pursued him?No, rather they are presently bailing out his company.
    Do you expect the government to investigate and prosecute Hart? Not likely. He has no affiliation to the UNC.

  3. Hart Free To Fly
    Govt official: We’ve got Hart’s cellphone number and he remains available

    Son says dad due back soon
    Yesterday, Chase Hart said:
    “He is not in the country, and there is no one-way ticket. There is a two-way ticket and he will be coming back. He will be back shortly.” Chase said there was “a little girl involved who has heard everything under the sun about her father” and that it was “thought that various things were going to play out, so it was better to get away for a while and let the issues sort of deal with themselves.”

    Hart ‘ready to return’
    Calder Hart is “ready to return” to Trinidad and Tobago, his lawyer, Devesh Maharaj, says.

    TTMF manager sues Calder Hart
    AMIDST growing concerns over his management of the billion-dollar special purpose enterprise Udecott, documents obtained by Newsday yesterday raised fresh questions over former Udecott executive chairman Calder Hart’s management of another state company, the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage and Finance Company Limited (TTMF).

    Annisette on 6 state boards
    Trade unionist Michael Annisette is a director of at least six state companies, investigations have revealed, and is expected to chair the board of Nipdec, following Saturday’s forced resignation of state board supremo, Calder Hart.

    NWU demands Annisette’s resignation
    The National Workers’ Union (NWU) has called for the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) to dismiss senator Michael Annisette from his post as president of the umbrella union body.

    We repeat, UDeCOTT board must go
    AS vice chairman on the board of directors of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT), Dr Krishna Bahadoorsingh should move swiftly to seek to remove the stain that is on him and the rest of the board, over the ballooning Calder Hart affair.

    Rowley ascendant

    Kamla goes after PM

    Kamla files no-confidence motion against Manning
    Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has trained her political guns on Prime Minister Patrick Manning, turning up the heat over the controversial UDeCOTT fiasco and filing, in the Parliament, a motion of no confidence in Manning over his conduct in the matter.

    Rowley coming for motion
    PNM backbencher Keith Rowley will be present in Parliament for the UNC’s upcoming no confidence motion against Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

    ‘Is there a police probe on Calder?’
    Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh rushed off a letter yesterday to Attorney General John Jeremie, seeking answers to several questions, among them, whether there is a police investigation into the former chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott), Calder Hart.

    Ag DPP to decide on Hart probe
    ACTING Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard is expected to today come to a decision on fresh documents submitted to him by the Congress of the People (COP) which disclose apparent family links between former Udecott executive chairman Calder Hart and a company Udecott awarded $820 million in contracts.

    Rowley: Kamla’s motion no surprise
    Diego Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday he was not surprised that Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had filed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

    Panday: I’m nobody’s puppet
    Former opposition leader Basdeo Panday said yesterday that he is no puppet and if Kamla Persad-Bissessar needs his support in the Parliament, she should pick up the phone and speak to him.

    T&T Chamber hails Udecott judgement
    The T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC) yesterday said it was “pleased” at last Friday’s judgement by Justice Mira Dean-Armorer, which dismissed the judicial review filed by the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (UDECOTT).

    What next?
    THE resignation of Udecott head, Calder Hart, announced hours after his sudden flight from Trinidad, casts a huge cloud over the credibility of the Government.

    Max picks No 5 for Integrity Commission

  4. On his return the PM would speak, he would say – Ladies and gentlemen, the Prime Minister has heard your concerns, he has listened, and the Prime Minister has acted, don’t worry about the millions lost, we would borrow to replace that, don’t mind you would have to pay through your noses, if you cant complete the payment, your children can continue. Fear not ladies and gentlemen, your Prime Minister has yet again delivered because he cares, so go forth and vote blindly for the PNM, great is the PNM it shall prevail, lets step to the next level, yes we can.

    1. you know I was thinking the very same thing, I mean the man does have allot to say on every topic, but nothing on this one, I was looking forward to being educated yet again and maybe pic up some chess moves.

  5. Future of UDeCOTT executives to be debated friday

    Gaspard confirmed as DPP
    Congratulations rang out from every corner of the Judiciary but none louder than from Gaspard’s office. Although they opted to remain anonymous several State attorneys said they were elated by the appointment.

    Police probe Calder Hart
    MERE HOURS after being appointed Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard yesterday acted swiftly in his new post, holding a meeting with Acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) James Philbert, advising that police investigate Calder Hart over documents which raise questions about Hart’s tenure as Udecott executive chairman.

    Gaspard tells top cop: Probe Calder Hart
    Roger Gaspard wasted no time yesterday, as moments after receiving his instruments as T&T’s new Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), he met with a high-powered police team to begin investigations into allegations made against Calder Hart, the former executive chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott).

    Gaspard looks into UDeCOTT
    IT is now official. Roger Gaspard has received a letter from his employer, the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, confirming his appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions.

    Uff: Udecott report before Easter
    Professor John Uff has promised, before Easter, to deliver the report of the Commission of Enquiry into the construction sector, the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott), and the Cleaver Heights housing project.

    Dick-Forde: Hart was hounded out

    Hart Hounded Out
    DPP to Philbert: Move swiftly on Hart probe
    Former UDeCOTT executive chairman Calder Hart was hounded out of office and the people of the country should be ashamed, Minister of Planning Emily Dick-Forde said yesterday.

    Dick-Forde: T&T should be ashamed
    Minister with responsibility for the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) Emily Dick-Forde says citizens of this country should be ashamed because of the manner in which its executive chairman Calder Hart was forced to resign last weekend.

    Check with Malaysian govt
    Ramadhar to sceptics of ‘UDeCOTT’ evidence:
    Deputy leader of the Congress of the People Prakash Ramadhar says those who are questioning the authenticity of the evidence his party has presented against former UDeCOTT chairman Calder Hart can go to the Malaysian government and verify it.

    Lawsuit threat forced COP to seek papers
    THE threat of a lawsuit prompted the Congress of the People (COP) to obtain documents linking former UDeCOTT chairman Calder Hart to the directors of CH Development, now Sunway, the company awarded a $368 million contract by UDeCOTT.

    UNC gets nod for Udecott debate
    The Opposition UNC has obtained permission from Parliament to debate a call for the removal of all board members of the Urban Development Company of T&T (UDECOTT) at Friday’s Lower House session.

    Kamla: Fire UDeCOTT board
    Motion on Friday
    Although her motion for UDeCOTT’s former executive chairman Calder Hart to be removed from all State boards was blocked by her own colleagues Basdeo Panday and Kelvin Ramnath last week, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar returns to the Parliament on Friday with another motion calling for all other members of the UDeCOTT board to be dismissed immediately.

    Kamla: Panday’s refusal an act of sabotage, betrayal
    The refusal by Basdeo Panday and Kelvin Ramnath to have the UDeCOTT scandal debated as a matter of public importance was an act of sabotage, betrayal and political stupidity, their political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said.

    Discipline Bas, Ramnath, says Moonilal
    Moonilal, the Member of Parliament for Oropouche East, said he believes the two would continue to ‘make mischief’ in the Parliament.

    Bas: I’m nobody’s puppet
    Former UNC leader Basdeo Panday is supportive of the Opposition’s no confidence motion against Prime Minister Patrick Manning and intends to speak in the debate.

    D/Martin West has no confidence in PM
    THE PNM Diego Martin West constituency of Dr Keith Rowley on Monday night passed a motion of no confidence in the party’s political leader, Prime Minister Patrick Manning, as criticism over his handling of the Calder Hart/Udecott affair intensified.

  6. Save the innuendoes guys , it’s not only childish , but unproductive. I have made it absolutely clear from the beginning , almost a year and a half ago ,that I pounced on this wonderful site, that I would not comment on domestic matters that I have no concrete knowledge of. Unlike you , I have faith in my country’s , and region’s criminal ,and legal institutions.
    If any of the allegations made are true then justice would be served in due course. Hopefully in your respective cases it is before the possible pending snap elections , and after our political new age savior Madam Kamela ,can clean up the political dung heap she inherited from Uncle Panday the life long nation divider.
    Talk about tribalist, they want the Abu Bkar fiasco , HCU financial debacle, and Panday’s Nigerian styled family corruption scandals to fade away like thieving alley cats, and egg sucking dogs into the night, but demands instant justice in this straw grasping confusion.
    I in contrast want justice to serve it’s course so that ” where the hat hang ,it swings.”If half of our political leaders , civil servants, and or business entities are convicted and sent to jail , then it’s a win , win situation for all of us languishing out her in these frigid , ghastly environments in service of ungrateful , Eurocentric masters.
    I take that back , some of us are comfortable in the warm Texan southern , cross burning oil belts, eh Madame L? This is your leader, and party’s fight, why am I – the only true lifelong independent progressive patriot -taking on the subtle punches from my two learned friends from across the isle, ehh?
    Keep the faith guys, and continue to love country.

  7. Busy preparing a major presentation to young women for tomorrow and Friday on Women’s Rights, worldwide, and International Women’s Day. Also working in my garden to clear the tangle of dead leaves and branches, unlike you guys, I am fully occupied, and have the right not to jump into a fire that’s heating up. I was the first to call for siezing his assets and checking who helped move his cash. You were sleeping, were you? I do not envy anyone the Canadian snow,the flooded streets of Caroni, thr crowded stink of East Port of Spain or whereever anyone CHOOSES to live. I can’t figure out why the hell this comes up so often. Nobody stopping anybody from moving anywhere they want to, if you could afford it. So, get off that hobby horse.Its tired.

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