PM’s Credibility at Stake

By Raffique Shah
November 27, 2011

Raffique ShahPRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s credibility is on the line with allegations of a plot to assassinate her and three of her ministers. This latest drama, coming at the tail end of a contentious State of Emergency, has drawn scepticism from many quarters. The PM and her security chiefs must now deliver the heads of the would-be assassins on the proverbial platter, or face loss of face and much more debilitating political fallout.

While it is true that Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs was the person who first alerted her to the plot, he has little to lose if it turns out that the alleged plot is a hoax. Based on the very limited information made public since several persons were arrested in connection with the conspiracy, the public watches and waits to see how the drama unfolds.

Let me try to put the issues at stake in some perspective. If there is a plot to kill the PM, that is both a criminal and national security matter. In this country, while there are mad people who would threaten holders of high office, mostly they turn out to be blowhards, not would-be killers.

Of course, we have had experiences that point us in another direction. The most notable was the Muslimeen’s failed coup of 1990. Congress of the People chairman Joseph Toney has noted that the enquiry into that event has so far revealed that there was intelligence that ought to have alerted the political directorate and security forces to an imminent assault on the NAR government.

Apparently, no one took them seriously. There are also allegations that certain politicians had prior knowledge of the coup, something I personally find difficult to digest. Whatever our differences, however acrimonious they become, I cannot think of one politician then, or today, who would know of impending illicit activities and not report them to the relevant authorities.

Maybe I am being naive here. I tend to see good in every person, even in politicians. But I am also mindful of some extremist events that have taken place which suggest we should take threats to prominent persons seriously.

Many people may have forgotten that on the night of August 12, 1983, three bombs exploded at an international conference of the Ahmadiyya movement held at a Marabella school. Fourteen persons were injured and the police discovered that a fourth, more lethal bomb that had failed to explode. No one was ever held in connection with that incident. By way of explanation, I should add that Ahmadiyya Muslims are not accepted as brothers-in-Islam by the mainstream Sunnis and Shias.

Then on the night of June 20, 1995, gunmen ambushed and killed ex-AG Selwyn Richardson outside his Cascade home. Two suspects in that murder were themselves killed shortly afterwards in mysterious circumstances. And on another occasion, details of which I do not now recall, gunmen had shot at a vehicle from the presidential pool.

What these attacks suggest is that we ought never to treat with threats against prominent persons lightly. The police and other security agencies must thoroughly investigate them, and, in instances where they find credible evidence, arrest, charge, and bring the perpetrators to justice before they could harm their intended targets.

Having noted all of the above, I find that the sequence of events in the current scenario does not conform to policing designed to bring the suspected perpetrators to justice.

Why, for example, almost a week after the alleged plot first surfaced, has no one been charged with any offence? The police claim that more than 12 persons have been arrested. But these men are detained under the State of Emergency regulations, not charged with any crime.

Must we assume that after they became aware that plans were afoot to kill the PM, the police acted before they gathered justiciable evidence? Because if they did, it might well be a case of them repeating the hundreds of botched arrests under the Anti-Gang law.

In the absence of fuller disclosures, people can only speculate on what is happening. Assuming that persons who see their criminal empires under threat, or who have suffered considerable financial losses, decide to make the PM pay. Say, too, they see AG Anand Ramlogan as a legitimate obstacle to their designs, so they plan to “take him out”. But Chandresh Sharma? Roodal Moonilal?

What have these two harmless ministers done to warrant assassination?

Another issue that arises is whether the plot amounts to treason or merely to conspiracy to commit murder. If the would-be killers merely plotted to kill the PM, does that constitute treason? Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who assassinated US President John Kennedy 47 years ago, was charged with murder, not treason.

An attorney friend of mine noted that while killing a prime minister might amount to murder, adding the AG to the list could possibly constitute treason. How so? Well, under the Westminster model, the PM and the AG constitute a government.

Whatever the truth about the events of the past few days, people’s credibility is at stake here, none more so than the Prime Minister’s. Should the police fail to successfully prosecute the persons they have detained, it is the PM, not Gibbs, who will pay the price.

The PM ought to have demanded that the security forces deliver the heads of the would-be assassins on a sound legal platter before she decided to go public with the plot.

Now, she has to hope the arrests lead to charges, and ultimately to convictions. Anything short of that is politically scary—for her.

16 Responses to “PM’s Credibility at Stake”


  • The uprising in 1970 and 1990 against a legitimately elected government is treason. The killing of any elected government minister(s) whilst holding office is murder firstly that can lead to treason. There is no doubt that AG Selwyn Richardson was making significant in-roads in getting at drug kingpins and it is highly suspected that his assasins were ‘wiped out’ before they had a chance to reveal much neede information to authorities. It is evident that the current PM and AG have been making significant inroads into the big business of illicit drug activities in T&T and it is quite clear that would be assasins would like to create chaos in T&T so that they can make their billions ‘peacefully’. The SOE has been serving its purpose very well, for example shipments of diesel fuel illegally have been curtailed. Let us remember that throwing teacups of tea at ministers (Sharma) in the tea room of Parliament may appear harmless but sends a direct message to the populace.

  • I agree that the arrest should lead somewhere, but there is the legal situation in any country where innocence is sacrosant. And it should remain so. Look at what Loyal Trini calls the events of 1970 – uprising against a legitimately elected government constituting treason. Is street protest an uprising?? And then the government of the time picked its judge, jury and executioner eventually lost, the author of this column can identify with this. But a government must be able to preempt what it sees as viable threat. It does not mean that the viable threat will withstand the scrutiny of a court. However, we must maintain the separation of executive and judicial so that they both grow strong together.

  • Uncle Shah said, “Apparently, no one took them seriously. There are also allegations that certain politicians had prior knowledge of the coup, something I personally find difficult to digest. Whatever our differences, however acrimonious they become, I cannot think of one politician then, or today, who would know of impending illicit activities and not report them to the relevant authorities.”
    Good overall article Uncle Shah , and no ,you are not naive. Here is your evidence to refute your thinking:- When 50 % of the high end Opposition , as well as our President Noor Hasanali,so happened to be either out of Parliament, or worst yet, the country during the said raid, that places sharp shooters like my self, who lost brothers, and sisters in BLUE, on high alert.
    When after 20 years , two respective politicians , and their AG ‘s ,have done nothing to put a nail in the coffin of Abu Bakr , and his fake Islamist ,bandits , or initiate a Commission of Enquiry ,to get to the bottom of the matter , that speaks volume, yes?
    Fast forward to 2011, and yes, the fact finding exercise , brought in place by Her Majesty Queen K, might -to her critics- be just another long list of politically motivated , exercise in futility , but she still deserves credit for seeking closure, and for this we are grateful- including the folks of TOBAGO , who endured the humiliation of seeing one of their heroes, as a national leader denigrated, and no justice derived as a result.
    Trust me on this , had ANR born in St Claire, San Fernando, Cunupia , or Siparia , Abu Bakr , and each of his barbarian bunch, would be dead already.
    Had the stupid , anachronistic Privy Council, made the RESPECTIVE rulings to prolong his life , or compensated him as done , if Basdeo Panday ,Patrick Manning , or Queen K , were so victimized , the Caribbean Court of Appeal, would be accepted as our final Court by now.
    Nuff said,on why ethno-regionalism has emerged as a viable ideological option, for historically disgruntled ,yes?
    Now on to the nitty gritty subject :- Tell me something Uncle Shah. Why do you think a Super power like America ,and alleged allies , found it so difficult winning wars in exotic places such as Vietnam , Afghanistan , and Iraq, when they were apparently , so successful in Europe ,during WW2? (I purposely leave out Japan , since that was overkill genocide against mainly innocent civilians, and so does not count. )
    Here it the answer encapsulated in one line for your edification. ‘All wars are not created equal.’ As such one cannot try to always replicate strategies, to obtain a similar result. There were no massive jungles in Europe ,and that war unlike the later mentioned ,were not race wars , in different terrains ,and tactics responses yes? Concrete /united Europe, verses, unpopular / jungles /Cold war mechanics/ ideologically committed enemies-hell bent on blowbacks, and the rest we can say is history.
    I say all this to say , that your training though fine , is not the one that can be used to deal with today’s civilian crime realities, and so it’s why your Sandhurst Coup School classmate ,Field Marshall Sandy ,looks like ‘a deer in the headlight,’ as well, on every matter of National Security , since taking office.
    The bucks stops with Her Majesty ,Queen K of course as leader,but remember she is just a simple country lawyer , who so happen to be PM, and maybe over her element as well on this matter.
    She depends on her advisers for guidance, and what do we have here as far a s expertise.
    A clueless Canadian , trying to justify his exorbitant salary, and the stoic out of touch Sandy , unable to understand why criminals, or members of the protective services he leads , are not dropping to de ground ,and giving him 40 push ups, once he tries to make a coherent sentence. Just sad, but I won’t jump on our esteemed UWI Geologist Dr Rott’s Bandwagon, to say ‘square pegs in round hole ,’ as he has his own demons to deal with if he wishes to replace his arch-nemisis geologist, aka de Sando PNM , ever-ready bunny.
    We wish our country well!

    • LINCOLN was just a simple country lawyer….laughed at by the media and rediculed mercilessly by his peers.Looked where he reached.

  • All threats must be taken seriously and never be fun of. Threatening a Prime Minister should be enough for a person to be sent to jail.. I had a neighbour who did that to Williams sent him a threatening letter and he was sent to jail for two years.

    You don’t have to commit the act, all that have to be found is information pointing to intent.

  • he forgot to mention when he and his friends try to do the same in the 70’s. So Mr Shah you should be ashamed to talk about the PM. when you tried and failed and yet you are free like a bird to blab your mouth.

    • Only reason Shah is alive is because Eric thought he could use him. Eric wanted an Opposition Leader of Indian extraction. Shah was considered to be a prominent Muslim not a despised Hindu. And so Eric set about to make Shah Opposition Leader but Bas grabbed him and knocked him out of contention. A failed military officer and a failed possible Opposition Leader equals an Epress reporter… hmmm.

  • Tom , remember that treasons in mickey mouse T&T ,is never applicable, if victims are of de Afrikan persuasion. In such case they deserves it, is the thinking.
    Yet these so called experts , are surprise that a criminal culture is embedded in the psyche of citizens.

  • Did Shah conveniently forget the 1970 uprising? Was he guilty of treason then? Does he ‘tend to see good…even in politicians because he was one himself?

    • Shah–1970
      Abu–1990
      Robo–2011

      What do these men have in common???

    • The idiocy ,that comes out of the craws of ‘some oh dem despicable creatures,’ who still profess to be citizens, are astounding, so much so, that it does not even deserve a response, eh mamboo?
      I am fast coming around to the conclusion , that you never spend , a single day in school, in your entire life, so unsound is your logic.
      You and your kind , don’t have the guts to even be magnanimous to one single Afrikan leader in our country , or better yet ,the courage to place some blame, where it should be ,for the politically fractious state ,of our country ,in Bas , aka Nehru reincarnation.
      It’s now water under the Caroni Bridge , but just think where this country might have been,if a patriotic Raffique Shah, and not Basdeo,had won that battle for supremacy.
      As to the more important subject at hand, and Emen concerns.Unfortunately , Neo Imperialism , often take different forms across peon states within the Global South , from militaristic , to Foreign aid, and in case of backward English Speaking, so called Independent Caribbean islands?
      Stupid fixations, on old white , men overlords , in charge of our final Court of Appeal , a la , de anachronistic ,Privy Council.
      The bones of unfortunate souls , and tattered democracies, are scattered throughout due to the long handed puppeteering activities from Sandhurst / Westpoint / Coup school, or worst yet, Latin American , Monroe Doctrine , School of de Americas interplays.
      If still not convinced ask Franco / Mestizo bourgeois , such as Haiti’s Raoul Cédras , or G H Bush CIA created ,Panama’s Manuel Noriega. Add to this , alleged ,anti Yankee Islamist , self righteous Zionist lifetime victims , and South Asian warmongering , nuclear upstart comedians,a la Jordon ,Egypt ,Israel,Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, and on , and on.
      As for T&T? Take your pick , with dem Canadian , and British educated leaders, we have in control, when they have not seen a 14th century, European political , or economic theory, they do not adore, even if it can never advance our cause.
      We wish our people well.

  • “The wheels of justice turn very slowly”(Anon)Generations will appear and disappear;however,in the final analysis “truth” emerges victorious…..always.This month (November)marks the forty-eight anniversary of the assassination of US President John.F.Kennedy.

    Conspiracy theorists,movies,organizations of reputable acuity have all contributed as to what occured on that fateful day in Dallas,Texas.There is only “one” truth;and this is yet to surface.The convicted assassin (James Earl…God rest his soul)on his “death-bed” openly informed the widow and children of the late Rev.Martin.Luther King that he “did not kill” her husband.

    Therefore,a conspiracy to assassinate Madam Prime Minister (K.P.B.)will eventually be revealed as “truth” or “falsity” Allow the “wheels of justice” to revolve.The earth requires one year to complete a revolution around the sun.Of all the virtues known to mortals none supersedes “patience”

  • Translation Swordfish ,you an’t buying de mumbo jumbo as parroted by Tethron’s own , in ever grateful Field Marshall Sandy, and as such , we in Baby America , should have patience, and await another four decades ,or more, for the truth, as played out in our carnival obsessed , comatose Country, yes?
    Using your yardstick as a backdrop therefore ,let’s see, that means , 10 more years, to get to the bottom of de foolhardy acts ,of dem two Sandhurst Coup School , Tethron , ‘Whippa snappers,’ Raffique , and Rex, in 1970, and more importantly ,to understand ,why both are not resting today, in some unmarked grave,each having suffered four bullets wounds , in their heads ,for such follies.
    Twenty more years to know , who was the masterminds behind sending some sub educated,T&T ,ex horse Police , goalkeeper, turn Canadian Islamist ,criminal,call Abu Bakr ,and his thugs ,into the Red House,to attack selected politicians,in efforts to send Tobago boy ANR, and his two tiny House seats, back where they belonged.
    It just cannot get any worst , in a country where the people could care less, about anything of significance, or put differently,if ‘GoodFriday falls on a Monday,’ ennnt Swordfish?

    • Since my absence from T&T for such a long period of time somehow disqualifies my input…I am always encouraged to write a few comments usually after Raffique Shah’s publications.Sometimes,I am tortured because I am unable to obtain the “buzz from the man on the street” Nonetheless,”informed sources”(abroad)have convinced me that Dwayne Gibbs is not a”crime-fighter” Instead,your Prime Minister should consult with Rudolph Guiliani (former Attorney General,and Mayor of New York)to “professionally” combat crime successfully in T&T. It is documented that his tenure as AG “the mob” became very passive in New York,and crime in that city remains at its lowest today.

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