Of Silkworms and Maggots

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar receives her Senior Counsel appointment from President George Maxwell Richards
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar receives her Senior Counsel appointment from President George Maxwell Richards

By Michael Harris
January 08, 2012 – trinidadexpress.com

What is the difference between a silkworm and a maggot? This is the question which popped into my head as I reflected on the current controversy which has erupted over the recent appointment of senior counsel. Frankly I did not think that there was anything salient which could be added to the debate after the cogent and comprehensive submissions made by Messrs Hudson-Phillips SC and former CJ Michael de la Bastide.

I changed my mind, however, after reading the brilliantly lucid summation of the issues presented by Terrence Farrell in his article in the Express on January 5. It often happens that a particularly lucid exposition on any topic can serve to excite new and additional insights which help to develop the issue further.

I consider it useful to explore two of the points made by Dr Farrell. The first point was that he considered it “deplorable that the Attorney General and the Prime Minister, who are at the heart and pinnacle of the process for the award of “silk”, should confer the award on themselves.” He went on to state that “The precedent set in this regard, allegedly by ANR Robinson and by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, should have been regarded as bad precedent for being self-serving and not followed.”

Dr Farrell is absolutely correct in his assessment. But it should certainly come as no surprise to him or to anyone who has been observing how this Government operates that the AG and the PM were unable to resist the temptation to be self-serving.

Nothing so characterises the brazen effrontery of this government than the spectacle of the AG, interviewed by the media after the award presentation, stating with a straight face that “he was humbled” to receive the award, an award which he had clearly conferred on himself.

This episode is but the latest in a series of actions, starting with the Reshmi affair and continuing all the way to the alleged “assassination plot”, which demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt that this Government is bereft of any concept of standards, of ethics, of values or of morality. Almost from the moment they came to office, theirs has been a drunken joy-ride through the corridors of state, one in which they have ridden roughshod over persons, reputations, institutions and principles of good conduct.

Indeed this is not a government here but a prolonged orgy of chicanery and corruption, a revelry of maggots feeding mindlessly and ravenously on the putrescence they create.

Dr Farrell makes another very germane point when he writes that “this latest is yet another example of a society whose elite is by and large insecure and unresponsible……. There is almost a desperation about attaining status and recognition that leads persons to disregard or rationalise obvious conflicts of interest and to pursue self-serving agendas.”

And it is in the context of this observation that we must consider the other important issue arising from this affair, which is the fact that Chief Justice Ivor Archie was awarded and accepted “silk” (along with Justice Kangaloo). It is clear from their submissions that both Mr Hudson-Phillips and Mr de la Bastide see this as the most troubling aspect of this entire affair. Indeed another commentator, Martin Daly SC, has described it as “shocking” and likens it to “driving a donkey cart through the separation of powers”.

If the award of “silk” to the CJ is such an egregious “aberration” (to use Mr de la Bastide’s word), two questions naturally arise. The first is why was the award offered in the first place, and the second question is why was it accepted? The CJ’s actions bear some further consideration before ascribing them to the lust for status.

In my respectful view, ever since his elevation to that office, Chief Justice Archie, has distinguished himself, not so much in terms of his legal opinions, which I am in no position to judge, but in terms of his judicious conduct and his willingness to forthrightly defend the independence and reputation of the judiciary every time it seemed to be threatened.

If my assessment of the character of the man is correct then what has happened simply does not make sense. It is therefore instructive that the only statement coming from Chief Justice Archie thus far is to the effect that he did not apply for silk, nor was his name mentioned in his discussions with the AG on possible candidates.

We would need further information, particularly with regard to when CJ Archie first knew that the award was to be conferred on him, to make a definitive statement, but the indications are that the Chief Justice was blindsided and was only made aware that he was to be a recipient at a point in time when to have refused to appear or to accept the award would have seemed to be churlish and disrespectful to the President and may well have created an even greater controversy.

If this is so, then the answer to the second question must be that the Chief Justice accepted the award out of a sense of civility and decorum, knowing full well that at the appropriate time he would have to return those instruments to the President. In this respect I sincerely hope that I am right for the implications, if I am not, are truly frightening.

The answer to the first question however poses no difficulty. The names of the Chief Justice (and Justice Kangaloo) were included in the list of recipients by the PM and the AG who saw what they perceived to be an opportunity to create a sense of obligation and favour on the part of key members of the judiciary.

I do not even think that we need go so far as to ascribe to their action a deliberate attempt to subvert the independence of the judiciary, although that certainly is one potential consequence of their action. By the way, the difference between a silkworm and a maggot is that the former secretes silk while the latter produces only excrement.

Source: trinidadexpress.com

8 thoughts on “Of Silkworms and Maggots”

  1. Toney: Set up special team to handle silk
    Congress of the People (COP) chairman Joseph Toney says an independent body should be set up on selection for the award of silk.

    Silk system ‘disturbs’ Ramesh

    Ramesh: Explain ‘silk’ to citizens
    THIS Government needs to explain to citizens the process by which persons were appointed as Senior Counsel or given the “silk” title says former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.

    Volney: I turned down Silk
    ATTORNEY General Anand Ramlogan asked his Cabinet colleague, Minister of Justice Herbert Volney, to apply for the honour of “Silk”, but Volney refused to do so, Volney said yesterday.

  2. Until those two self serving rascals(I won’t call them maggots, they not there yet)return teir awards, the process would remain dishonored. Now the AG want to abolish the system, rather than admit he was wrong. How boldfaced can one man of very humble origins get?

  3. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Anand_not_returning_silk-136987808.html
    Way to go cuz Rammy , and to hell with dem disgruntled PNM backbenchers, old school UNC opportunistic bone heads, and clueless Trini media , and poll.
    If I were you too I would just hold on to my silk , as looking at de historical trends , one never knows ,if this opportunity will, ever present it im again.
    The last vestiges of neo colonialism , some say , must be maintained , at all cost.
    What do you know , dis guy Rammy , probably tried what , 12 cases ,in his entire life , and his boss did what, practiced Moot law ,at Hugh Wooding with pimple face 21 year olds, and she too keeping her silk?
    Got to give some Luv , as per usual to Uncle Basdeo, as it was him that reminded us, in eloquent fashion , that “Politics has a morality all of his own,”yes?
    His protege, Queen K , was certainly a fine student as can be attested by dis charade, but as for the COP Pit bull Rammy…, well we can put in the missing pieces, as to what we think of him , and his ‘Sansara bound,’ ,twisted soul?
    Long live the Republic of T&T.

    OPPOSITION LEADER Dr Keith Rowley yesterday told Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to return the award of “Silk” she received from President George Maxwell Richards on December 29, 2011.

    Anand not returning silk
    … accuses Ramesh of ‘political tabanca’

    AG looking at abolishing silk
    Attorney General Anand Ramlogan says he will give consideration to abolishing the entire system of granting Senior Counsel status to nationals of T&T.

    Ivor deserved title, say CJ’s parents
    THE PARENTS of Chief Justice Ivor Archie said yesterday their son was deserving of the title of Senior Counsel, even though he did not apply for it.

    Clarence Rambharat: Lifting the veil of silk
    Do not believe that the Senior Counsel noise will easily lead to change. The Law Association was pushed here before and nothing came out of it. The AG may wish to provide the data to show whether taxpayers are the ones paying out the bulk of fees earned by senior counsel and their juniors. That may answer the question of why the legal profession has, despite many urgings and Commonwealth precedent, failed to resolve the antiquity of the appointment of silk and the political control of it. What we may find out is that it is not the Senior Counsel earning the oversized fees but the juniors whose selection is entirely a matter of politics.

  5. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Ivor_deserved_title__say_CJ_s_parents-136987803.html

    Sorry Mamma , and Pappa Archie , but by accepting this silk , your politically naive son , unfortunately fell into a carefully laid ‘briar patch plot ,of dangerous , Cobra / Mappipi snake ,epic proportion- if you catch my drift.
    As a consequence of dis folly, he has again set back the integrity of yet another important state institution, thast is dependent on independence to function effectively .
    Hopefullly , he might some day eventually salvage his self dignity , after this most embarassing debacle. There are those much wiser than myself, that might be tempted to conclude that our Judiciary is compromised by non transparent , Trini politics as usual- as played out by immoral, self serving social bandits. This might indeed be hash conclusion , but who am I to question de logic of ,… well… folks that are wiser than myself , yes?
    Precidents dey say , and can you believe dat,it’s 2012, and political barbarians, are still looking over their shoulders like Lot’s wife, apparently forgeting as to the real reasons , they were granted an overwhelming mandate , by the electorate last election.
    I tell you folks,it’s getting tough to still be in luv with my country of birth. However , we wish our cross cultural hodgepodge collection of people well!

  6. In the years since our blessed nation has become a republic, it has become customary that attorneys from respectable and patriotic communities have deservedly awarded themselves silk upon attaining the distinguished position of Attorney General. This year, though, we have witnessed the unseemly sight of an upstart from the cane fields following suit, apparently believing that he is of the same ilk as his distinguished predecessors. By doing so, he has tragically tarnished this once-noble status of silk. Small wonder, then, that controversy has ensued.

  7. Nice try Ravi Singh, but no one is buying dis one bit. Your SARCASTIC ,pathetic attempt, fell short , once more ,at converting you -and kind -INTO some victim , as no one is saying that your tribal leaders ,are not entitled to the spoils of power , as their more noble, “distinguished predecessors.”
    We ‘DE sophisticated globalist , pro humanist, info highway driving folks,’ across Trini Center,can distinguish between self serving ,egotistic, socially insecure, MORALLY DEPRAVED , ‘frauds/ fakes/ imposters,AND yes ,PHONIES,’as opposed to the real deal.
    Come again my friend. Your AG , de COP pitbull in Her Majesty Queen K’s regime-being over his head-has made about 1000 missteps, since assuming power, and has misled his boss, about 3000 more from a legal standpoint, and this is just one of many.Politically astute as we are , we know why he can get away repeatedly with murder .
    The way forward therefore, is contrition,and acceptance of mistakes. Translation ,is to place themselves at the mercy of the people , after returning this symbolic honor.
    I know , dat and a talking Caroni donkey, we will never see, as pride stands in the way. Tell them for us however, the old biblical truism , which is ,that ;pride comes before a fall.’
    If he ,de AG doubt’s that ,let him ask fake Christian, Opposition back bencher, FORMER PM, Patrick Manning, or instead , his OWN loyal , PROUD, Sky God ,WHITE Jesus, Christian, wife, as they can enlighten him.
    We wish our people well!
    Luv Humanity.

  8. I agree that the AG has made a number of missteps, that his qualifications for silk are potentially questionable, and that the whole process of selecting attorneys for silk needs to be more transparent, with input from bodies independent of the ruling party of the day (law association? jlsc? Opposition leader?)
    However, I remain concerned that at least some of the venom spewed against the current AG looks like the typical visceral reaction against any East Indian in a prominent position— that he has got above his/her proper station in life through corrupt,racist or underhand means, that immediate condemnation is in order,and that clarification of the precise nature of the corruption can unfold after the condemnation.

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