President Carmona, the IC and the public

Guardian Editorial
July 05, 2015 –

President Anthony CarmonaThe problem is that members of the public might have been so distracted by the President’s rumshop reference—a terse dismissal of their questions and concerns—that crucial aspects of his statement might have been lost.

President Anthony Carmona’s reference to “rumshop logic” in describing citizens’ comments about the latest fallouts from the Integrity Commission is unfortunate. Not only did it defeat what was an otherwise laudable attempt to bring clarity to an issue that has long been a focus of national concern and debate, it has also reinforced recent negative perceptions of that agency. The President was well within his rights to deal with the matter at length—he was, after all the focus of much of the criticisms following the latest implosion of that august body. Unfortunately, his choice of words and his condescending tone served to alienate rather then enlighten.

The too-frequent eruption of controversies within the Integrity Commission in recent years is the very valid reason that its effectiveness and relevance are being questioned. That fact should not escape President Carmona, who has the crucial role of appointing members to that body. More than five weeks have passed since the resignations of retired Justice Sebastian Ventour, the former deputy chairman, and Dr Shelley-Anne Lalchan. Those resignations, close on the heels of a controversial ruling from the Commission in the Emailgate matter, attracted considerable and mostly unflattering public scrutiny of that agency, and there was a great deal of interest in President Carmona’s next move in dealing with the matter.

But apart from a very brief statement acknowledging and accepting the resignations of the two commissioners, the President has been mostly silent on the matter. His silence was a fertile breeding ground for the speculation, criticisms and negative statements, which apparently prompted his detailed statement on Wednesday.

However, it is good that he has finally spoken out and has done so at length on what was a very significant occasion for the Commission — two new members, acting High Court Judge Rajiv Persad and retired school principal Angela Long Lai, taking their oaths of office.

The problem is that members of the public might have been so distracted by the President’s rumshop reference—a terse dismissal of their questions and concerns—that crucial aspects of his statement might have been lost. For example, there was the important information that even when down to three members, the Commission is validly constituted and can operate. It makes this latest issue different from occasions in the past when that body was non-functional for long stretches of time.

In response to the many calls for him to intervene when questions were raised about the Commission’s handling to Emailgate, President Carmona underscored that its functions are “sacrosanct and not to be interfered with.” He is not privy to the Commission’s decision-making process and cannot intervene in any of decisions “legitimately arrived at.” All these are important facts and it is good that President Carmona has put them into the public domain.

At the same time, however, he cannot overlook the fact that public confidence in the body has been severely eroded. The public has a right to have its say, even if its members do not have the insight of President Carmona. Dismissing it as “rumshop logic” is unfortunate.

Time will tell whether his decision to appoint two new members effectively addresses public concerns.

However, given the Integrity Commission’s mandate to stop corruption and ensure transparency and accountability from public officials, President Carmona cannot ignore the need for a thorough examination of that body’s processes, systems and procedures — through a variety of lenses.


11 thoughts on “President Carmona, the IC and the public”

  1. This President has been a complete failure from day 1. Fancy speeches are what we as Trinis cannot afford. We want justice from the Parliament system and the Judiciary. A lot more fingers need to be pointed concerning The Section 34 fiasco and Emailgate. We want the truth. And this IC is suspect. And it is time that we do something about the President’s role in our Republic. He is not an honest person. The IC plays a key role in our justice system and a one man dictatorship of who makes up the IC members is clearly not what we want as a nation. Given the state of the Judiciary we are fast becoming a failed nation and civil unrest now becomes a strong possibility. This President seems to be on his own agenda. One can understand now why our justice system has been compromised for years. I personally had three cases before our legal system. All i technically lost out on. The first in the Civil court was thrown out unfairly following a relief from sanctions meeting even though the company perjured the court in their witness statement submission. According to the Judge I need to always know what going on in the head of my deliquent lawyer. A lawyer who continually played me. I was nowhere around the court at the time but busily being treated for possible back surgery in Canada. My lawyer whom I trusted was busying selling my case unknown to me and is now an Industrial Court Judge. My second matter was against NIS – also in the Civil Court (paid over 25 years into NIS). I was told this judge, in the pretrial stage discussed my matter with a FM 104 talk show host who worked for NIS. This was prior to my trial. After the ending of the trial he later forced me to withdraw on late submissions after my trial ended. And of course my Appeal Court matter where I won and after 30 months still awaits completion of said matter for costs awarded to me. An Appeal court case costs in hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the length of time your matter takes to be heard compromises justice pleaded for. So I have grounds for what I am saying. My family has suffered tremendously after I lost over $600,000 fighting matters I deserved justice on. I wrote the President on my matters over 18 months now and to-date he has not had the courtesy to reply to my concerns. Apart from my experiences I have heard about others there is nothing nice to say about justice in T&T. But then again the rich and famous in T&T would not share that view. Nevertheless I had become aware of the games the lawyers play in the court room with the judge where you must stay silent. Justice is never served. We need a better system of justice. I was injured for life with no injury benefit , no Severance after over 25 years service working in jobs below my professional status and not contracted to do and was at the mercy of my foreign bosses operating in my country. They played me like a hungry dog on Maracus beach (…come dogey look a bone…). One day I pray the truths will surface. God doh sleep. The goodly President will come before the good Lord and will answer for his misdeeds. Are we not deserving to know what became of the house allowance matter? Is he sitting above our legal system? In my NIS matter I was asked to fill a form in a defined time line on all my internal injuries suffered in a job I was asked to do as First Entry Foreman. I am not a doctor and the company doctor offered no help. Instead I was continually given a Voltarain injection to mask my injuries and kill off my nerves. I became aware of the company doctor’s plan long afterwards seeking private help from other doctors. I suffered two muscle spasm attacks in the time line. I am an engineer by profession. The company was looking to make one million manhours without an injury. So my injuries were suppressed and denied. Since 2002 I remain injured. Perhaps you can ask Mr President for the small booklet I posted to him by courier since he was quick to comment on his letter he sent to the Leader of the Opposition recently. We used to say monkey knows which tree to climb. But Mr President God will have the last say on your misdeeds.

  2. Rumshop Logic:
    It is more than unfortunate that President Carmona chose those insensitive words to describe ordinary people who are not privy to legal interpretations and legalese that only the sophisticated understand. Given the amount of time the President took to address the issue of the Integrity Commission’s handling of emailgate, his response has to be taken as “studied”. Therefore he should not be astonished that the people understand his response as inconsistent with the gravity of the situation. Most felt that the President should have disbanded the entire commission and appoint a new one with a new Chairman. As a matter of fact, many felt that by keeping Zainool Hosein as Chairman, he is in fact allowing the Integrity Commission to be seen as an instrument of corruption, rather than a source of restoring integrity in the public place. His performance never met the promise of his “powers you think I have …..” expectations. President Carmona’s best day on the job, was at his ceremonial opening, where he delivered one of the most talked about inaugural speeches in modern history. Those who considered themselves illiterate, felt informed and those who thought that they understood what he stood for, felt re-assured of his commitment to the Presidency and public life in general. From that day onwards, President Carmona never lived up to the expectations he so eloquently articulated. A government with a penchant for stretching the law, has time and again gone beyond the borders of the spirit of the law, with the nation crying out for guidance, the President and Chief Justice remained quiet on the issue. There is no doubt that with all the missteps and misguided transgressions of the Kamla Persad Bissessar administration, were there to be some kind of intervention on the part of the President or the Chief Justice to correct the constitutionality of the government, we probably would not have been in the mess we now have today. President Carmona ought to know that his position means more than just a constitutional appointment. If you are to think of the country as a family, the Prime Minister would be the head of household, the President, the grandfather and Chief Justice, the uncle. When there is a crisis in the family or the head of household misbehaves, it is normal practice for grandpa to step in and correct or interject order and calmness. There are times when uncle has to step in to solidify such interjections. That is the kind of actions the people expected from Carmona. While it is true that we do not expect political leadership from him and the CJ, it certainly is not out of the question that we should look to them for moral and legal correctness. Instead of dealing with the hard questions of governance and maturity, the President chose to challenge comedians and ordinary folks who discuss affairs of the nation in rumshops. The serious questions surrounding his acceptance of housing allowance of $28,000 per month still remains unanswered. Past presidents like Noor Hassanali and ANR Robinson are seen as exemplars in that office. So, it is definitely not without precedent that we should expect our President and Chief Justice to act as agents of maturity, to correct the political adventures of the government. Given his penchant for gaffes and unfortunate language, his behavior and qualifications must come into question. There are those who preceded him and none of them insulted the public the way he does. Even though the presidency has been dubbed as ‘ceremonial’, most people are of the opinion that it still is the last bastion of hope when all else fails. The Integrity Commission has been disrespected and demoted by the current Chairman, Zainool Hosein, when he took it upon himself to ignore the work that the then deputy Chairman, Judge Ventour has done on the emailgate issue and took it upon himself to dismiss. It is obvious that President Carmona, did not take this view into consideration when he refused to investigate it. Most people who belong to the ‘rumshop logic’ generation considered this slight by the President as a lack of understanding of his job. The president on the other hand described his logic as a ‘constitutional’ responsibility. The ‘rumshop logic’ generation view his job as not just a constitutional one but one in which he should exercise with both moral and ethical vigor as well. By allowing the tainted IC directors to remain under the leadership of Zainool Hosein is a slap in the face of better judgement. He should have stepped in, cleaned house and appoint a new IC, cleansing the gaffes and inefficiency of Hosein and company. Had he done that, the country would have been better off. But he chose to gamble his esteem on the seemingly questionable character of the Chairman Zainool Hosein instead.

  3. I have always maintained that we nationals are our own worst enemies. It takes non-nationals to recognize our contributions as professional men and women and what our country itself offers to the outside world. I do not hold the President accountable for his use of the term rum shop logic, in fact he’s quite correct. How can the leader of a political party visit the former IC chairman at his home during the night and bring about this e-mailgate fiasco and suddenly keep quiet now? That’s how people with hidden agendas work i.e., cause amok with the public by starting a fire and disappear in the dark and watch an institution burn to the ground. Whatever is sown in the dark will surely avail itself in the light! Keep up the good work Mr. President because the criticisms that are leveled against you will reflect the resiliency and true character of yourself. You can only do so much and the admiration you deserve is the ability you have in simplifying laws, rules and regulations so that the average layman can understand. Keep up the good work Sir.

    1. Loyal Trini, I have always been of the view, that you are the only one on the other side, who will participate in discussions on topics that we blatantly disagree on. I happen to be of the view that your support of the President on this matter lacks proper analysis and decorum. I noticed that your comments only dealt with ‘law’. They were void of the consideration of ethics and morality. These two intangibles form the basis of intelligent human discourse. They are so highly complex that man is yet to devise written ‘laws’ to govern the use of them. Ordinary ‘Laws’ happen to be a lower form of that behavior, that all can easily understand and comprehend. Before moving further I wish to address some of your observations:

      1. “I do not hold the President accountable for his use of the term rum shop logic.” Wrong! The President happens to be the only person entrusted with the authority to ask the people to “listen” to him. He MUST appear to be accommodating to all points of views.

      2. “How can the leader of a political party visit the former IC chairman at his home during the night and bring about this e-mailgate fiasco and suddenly keep quiet now?”
      Dr. Rowley visited Ken Gordon at his home to find out why the emails was not made public. That is fact! In any case the UNC asked for and got his resignation. Case closed.

      3. “That’s how people with hidden agendas work i.e., cause amok with the public by starting a fire and disappear in the dark and watch an institution burn to the ground.” You need to explain “hidden agenda” and what you mean by that term.

      4. “You can only do so much and the admiration you deserve is the ability you have in simplifying laws, rules and regulations so that the average layman can understand.” You will agree that the person holding the post of President is one deserving of admiration and respect. You just don’t admire people because they know and practice laws. Without the intangibles to accompany those accomplishments
      there is no admiration nor respect. This brings us to the word ‘I-N-T-E-G-R-I-T-Y COMMISSION’. The doing and telling word here is integrity. If the commission is perceived, lacks or otherwise void of integrity, then the whole purpose of it’s existence is wasted. And that is what the uproar is all about. There is a blatant lack of integrity in the way Zainool Hosein and President Carmona handled the situation. The President’s action can easily be discerned as one that allows the Integrity Commission to act as an instrument of corruption based on these reasonings.

      It is no wonder your comments stayed clear of the President’s failings, like his penchant to warn others of their weaknesses while at the same exhibiting his own.
      Why would the head of state want to engage a comedian in litigation, when jokes are made about his wife? Weakness is the answer. Why would the President take public funds amounting to $28,000 a month that the same law that he ascribes to everyone else, say that he is not entitled to?
      The reason is simple, he is in fact tells ALL of us to “do as I say, but NOT as I do”. This makes him an unfit person to be holding the position he does in the eyes of most right thinking people. As long as he and Zainool remain in those positions he would and should be seen as “instruments of corruption”.

      1. To analyze prior to making comments is the norm for a healthy mind to subsume. I’m not one for making derogatory comments nor would I do any overkill on any one nor what they subscribe to. However, some poignant questions: Why would the President be accused of receiving extra stipends when his office pointed that out to the respective Ministry? or is it that someone in the Ministry left it unattended to give enlightenment for public mischief via the media organ? Why would a comedian try to make money on my wife (who does not hold public office) wearing a provocative garment rather than uttering some provocative words? Some of us tend to take what the media says literally rather than to decipher what is chaff from the grains? I have received commendations from past colleagues for being a fair-minded and objective individual who gives everyone the benefit of the doubt before commenting. Look, I witnessed a former town and country planner (chief) at the Planning and Mobilization Ministry (’80s) blatantly insulting Minister Dookeran most unceremoniously and all because she could not contain herself of her political ties. Why? I have never heard the Minister rebuked her nor took it to the media nor to a political platform. That is what I call decorum and statesmanship. I know past ministers and current ministers who are like scoundrels unfair to hold public office and I hate to state representing people like you and me in Parliament. I have learnt over the years that it takes all kind to make up the society we live in. My prerogative of according respect to a selected few and announcing such on this platform are well substantiated and I would state quite categorically I have not found the President Carmona to be unethical or immoral in words or deeds. I have seen a past President had some basketball players at his residence and never offered them a cup of water whereas the same president was knocking no end of glasses at a cocktail reception. May I add, the same individual in Miami, behind his wife’s back was screwing another woman, I believe we call it adultery. Please give me a break!!!!

  4. The President has followed the rules.
    The Integrity Commission is coming under political criticism simply because the Opposition disapproves of the President’s choice of appointees.
    This pattern of disapproval and criticism of our Institutions is becoming far too frequent when vocal politicians express their biased and partisan objections to the appointees. They cover their prejudice by attacking the Institution itself, rather than being completely honest about their racial or political prejudices.
    Ventour walked away from the IC and when his political affiliation was unmasked he disappeared, never to heard from again.

  5. Mr President before you talk about the USA and what the USA does ….take a read on them
    How the US Helped Create Al Qaeda and ISIS
    Published on September 21, 2014 in International, Religion, Security and USA. 0CommentsTags: middle east, terrorism, usa.
    By Garikai Chengu
    September 20, 2014 –
    Much like Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is Made in the USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region. The fact that the United States has a long and torrid history of backing terrorist groups will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history.

    The CIA first aligned itself with extremist Islam during the Cold War era. Back then, America saw the world in rather simple terms: on one side, the Soviet Union and Third World nationalism, which America regarded as a Soviet tool; on the other side, Western nations and militant political Islam, which America considered an ally in the struggle against the Soviet Union.
    The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan, General William Odom recently remarked, “by any measure the US has long used terrorism. In 1978-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation”.
    During the 1970s the CIA used the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a barrier, both to thwart Soviet expansion and prevent the spread of Marxist ideology among the Arab masses. The United States also openly supported Sarekat Islam against Sukarno in Indonesia, and supported the Jamaat-e-Islami terror group against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan. Last but certainly not least, there is Al-Qaeda.
    Lest we forget, the CIA gave birth to Osama bin Laden and breastfed his organisation during the 1980s. Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that Al-Qaeda was unquestionably a product of Western intelligence agencies.
    Mr Cook explained that Al- Qaeda, which literally means an abbreviation of “the database” in Arabic, was originally the computer database of the thousands of Islamist extremists, who were trained by the CIA and funded by the Saudis, in order to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan.
    America’s relationship with Al-Qaeda has always been a love-hate affair. Depending on whether a particular Al-Qaeda terrorist group in a given region furthers American interests or not, the US State Department either funds or aggressively targets that terrorist group. Even as American foreign policy makers claim to oppose Muslim extremism, they knowingly foment it as a weapon of foreign policy.

    The Islamic State is its latest weapon that, much like Al-Qaeda, is certainly backfiring. ISIS recently rose to international prominence after its thugs began beheading American journalists. Now the terrorist group controls an area the size of the United Kingdom.
    In order to understand why the Islamic State has grown and flourished so quickly, one has to take a look at the organisation’s American-backed roots. The 2003 American invasion and occupation of Iraq created the pre-conditions for radical Sunni groups, like ISIS, to take root.
    America, rather unwisely, destroyed Saddam Hussein’s secular state machinery and replaced it with a predominantly Shi’ite administration. The US occupation caused vast unemployment in Sunni areas, by rejecting socialism and closing down factories in the naive hope that the magical hand of the free market would create jobs.
    Under the new US-backed Shiite regime, working class Sunni’s lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Unlike the white Afrikaners in South Africa, who were allowed to keep their wealth after regime change, upper class Sunni’s were systematically dispossessed of their assets and lost their political influence.
    Rather than promoting religious integration and unity, American policy in Iraq exacerbated sectarian divisions and created a fertile breeding ground for Sunni discontent, from which Al-Qaeda in Iraq took root.

    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) used to have a different name: Al-Qaeda in Iraq. After 2010 the group rebranded and refocused its efforts on Syria.
    There are essentially three wars being waged in Syria: one between the government and the rebels, another between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and yet another between America and Russia.
    It is this third, neo-Cold War battle that made US foreign policy makers decide to take the risk of arming Islamist rebels in Syria, because Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a key Russian ally. Rather embarrassingly, many of these Syrian rebels have now turned out to be ISIS thugs, who are openly brandishing American-made M16 assault rifles.
    America’s Middle East policy revolves around oil and Israel. The invasion of Iraq has partially satisfied Washington’s thirst for oil, but ongoing air strikes in Syria and economic sanctions on Iran have everything to do with Israel. The goal is to deprive Israel’s neighbouring enemies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, of crucial Syrian and Iranian support.
    ISIS is not merely an instrument of terror used by America to topple the Syrian government; it is also used to put pressure on Iran.
    The last time Iran invaded another nation was in 1738. Since independence in 1776, the US has been engaged in over 53 military invasions and expeditions. Despite what the Western media’s war cries would have you believe, Iran is clearly not the threat to regional security, Washington is.

    An Intelligence Report published in 2012, endorsed by all 16 US intelligence agencies, confirms that Iran ended its nuclear weapons programme in 2003. Truth is, any Iranian nuclear ambition, real or imagined, is as a result of American hostility towards Iran, and not the other way around.
    America is using ISIS in three ways: to attack its enemies in the Middle East, to serve as a pretext for US military intervention abroad, and at home to foment a manufactured domestic threat, used to justify the unprecedented expansion of invasive domestic surveillance.
    By rapidly increasing both government secrecy and surveillance, Mr Obama’s government is increasing its power to watch its citizens, while diminishing its citizens’ power to watch their government. Terrorism is an excuse to justify mass surveillance, in preparation for mass revolt.
    The so-called “War on Terror” should be seen for what it really is: a pretext for maintaining a dangerously oversized US military. The two most powerful groups in the US foreign policy establishment are the Israel lobby, which directs US Middle East policy, and the Military-Industrial-Complex, which profits from the former group’s actions.
    Since George W. Bush declared the “War on Terror” in October 2001, it has cost the American taxpayer approximately US$6,6 trillion and thousands of fallen sons and daughters; but, the wars have also raked in billions of dollars for Washington’s military elite.

    In fact, more than 70 American companies and individuals have won up to US$27 billion in contracts for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan over the last three years, according to a recent study by the Centre for Public Integrity.
    According to the study, nearly 75 percent of these private companies had employees or board members, who either served in, or had close ties to, the executive branch of the Republican and Democratic administrations, members of Congress, or the highest levels of the military.
    In 1997, a US Department of Defence report stated, “the data show a strong correlation between US involvement abroad and an increase in terrorist attacks against the US”.
    Truth is, the only way America can win the “War on Terror” is if it stops giving terrorists the motivation and the resources to attack America. Terrorism is the symptom; American imperialism in the Middle East is the cancer. Put simply, the War on Terror is terrorism; only, it is conducted on a much larger scale by people with jets and missiles.
    Garikai Chengu is a research scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on
    Reproduced by consent of the author from:


  6. Dear TMan

    The disapproval and criticism of the various appointees to the various institutions is not based on race, it is based on the poor conduct of the appointees themselves. An integrity commission that claims to have done an investigation which cleared the prime Minister, yet no proof of the conduct of such an investigation has been tendered to the public, such a commission is corrupt, incompetent and should be disbanded.

    The issue translates as race to you, and in truth race is involved, but not in the manner you think.

    Members of an integrity commission, or any statutory board should be chosen based on evidence that the appointee has demonstrated integrity in public life in the past, the appointee has the relevant experience and qualification for the position, and last but by no means least, the appointee has demonstrated in his/her past public life no racial bias to any group. These are the qualities an appointee should posses before being chosen to serve in any public position.

    Most of the appointees made under this administration have been chosen on the basis of race. On that basis it is hard to find individuals that possess the characteristics mentioned above.

    No self respecting professional; Indian or African, in possession of the above mentioned characteristics would accept a position because he/she was the right race.

    Therefore what you are left with is a pool of candidates that are at best mediocre and at its worst unsuitable.

    It therefore follows that during the course of their time in office they will make mistakes that either demonstrate their lack of professional experience or their lack of integrity.

    Your blind support of the appointees of the various institutions simply because they are Indo Trinidadian is setting a very low standard for out country.

    You and people of your mindset are hiding behind race, putting the rest of the country in the position to be called racist because they dare to point out the short comings of appointees who have been chosen on the basis of race.

    Ventour walked away from the IC because as a professional with a spotless record, who has made his contribution to this country, he could not condone such behaviour.

    You will find TMan that people with reputations to protect cannot condone the kind of conduct that has been demonstrated by this current administration. Never before in the history of this country has our democracy been in this kind of danger.

    Basdeo Panday did not conduct himself in this manner. No other leader has ever conducted themselves in this manner. The previous leaders certainly were not perfect, but none of them up until now has ever fallen to such depths.

    This is not about race TMan this is about a group of thugs that have high jacked the UNC and the government of Trinidad & Tobago.

    1. It is common knowledge that all of the present members of the IC have distinguished themselves in T&T in their various occupations and are fully qualified to serve.
      If you have information about the unsuitability of these members,please share it with the rest of us.
      Similarily, if you have information about other appointees in terms of their lack of qualifications and unsuitability for positions to which they were appointed, please share it with us.
      One of the political strategies of the PNM during the term of office of the PP and during thus election campaign, supported by the Express, is to condemn the PP for making inappropriate appointments based on a few mistakes in selection of some appointees,on the recommendations of public servants, e.g. Reshmi
      Another political strategy which the PNM, again supported by the Express, is to make corruption charges without evidence, hoping that these charges, if repeated often enough would stick.The PNM thus far have been unable to provide any evidence of wrongdoing.The financial improprieties which have occurred were the responsibility of public servants attempting to rip off the country.

      Your comment, ” Your blind support of the appointees of the various institutions simply because they are Indo Trinidadian is setting a very low standard for out country.”
      is totally out of place. Not once have I indicated or made such a deceleration.
      Your Freudian slip here is not only amusing but informs on the nature of your character because it reveals the true intent of your message.

    2. I think at this time we seem to be comparing apples and oranges. To get back on topic, Yoruba Israelite recently made a quote and I wish to interject it here, he said “When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both are against you, call the other lawyer names.” I think this quote is appropriate because when we dismiss morality and ethics as part of our lives we basically have reduced ourselves to nought. When you become a “public figure” you are in fact allowing yourself into the lives, living rooms, rumshop and everywhere else as testimony to the appointment that you hold. Take for example President Obama. What has not been said about him is what they forgot to say. Public discourse has even denied him his place of birth, he has been called every bad name you can think about. Remembering the office he holds, he has never addressed foolishness, he stood tall and respected. When Presidents and Prime Ministers get into the behavior of sending “letters of protocol” to ordinary citizens just because they “don’t like” what has been said, they are not befitting of the position they hold. Those of us who speak of President Carmona’s behavior do not do so with malice. The reasoning we apply is who he is (by appointment) and what he does (behavior). When behaviors are not in conformity with what is expected then a judgement is to be made. In the President’s case we know what he said and what he is doing. He is probably the most learned man in law but his behavior has given doubts to his moral and ethical aptitude. This is what the argument is about. The President lectures to us on law and morality but his behavior appears to contradict truth to what he preaches. This is not what public figure wants to be known for. I don’t want to go into what was written before but it is obvious to all right thinking people that the President (in that capacity) has failed us. By allowing Zainool to continue in that capacity as Chairman of IC, is tantamount to being an instrument of corruption. BY the way, for those of you who keep saying Zainool did nothing wrong. Let me just say this. I said before, we cannot legislate morality or ethics, but the law does make room for it to be exercised. It is common in law, that when a body of individuals is constituted to form an operative group, a minimumn number of those present can be called a ‘quorum’ to make its decision final. But using a quorum is NOT the standard, it is the exception to legality. When a board is put together, the intention is to get the best input of those so appointed. Sometimes, for very good reasons, all cannot be present and when that happens then a quorum is used. In the case of Zainool, is seems obvious that he intentionally used a quorum because he knows that it is lawful and not necessarily ethical. He cannot claim the high ground in this instance. Zainool knows that he is in fact being an instrument to corruption but using the quorum legally. Boards make saner decisions when the expertise of all its members are sought and rendered.

      1. Kian, you are right to keep making the distinction between that which is merely legal, and that which is (morally and ethically) right.

        As I recall, the President came into office promising, and also admonishing us, to “do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do”. So he too understands quite well the distinction.

        Justice Ventour gave us a good example of that maxim in action. He resigned on a matter of principle.

        In contrast, when fate called upon him to do “the right thing”, President Carmona failed.

        I say so without malice or ill-will; he was a childhood friend whom I still hold in high regard and esteem. (He may do better when the Gov’t changes, and with it, any felt obligation to the PM and party that put him in office.)

        The facts were clearly not on his side, rather on Justice Ventour’s. The law also was not on his side, except only in its narrow, literalist construction.

        In order to “do the right thing”, a President ought to construe the law in its broadest sense, giving primacy to “moral and spiritual values” — the “spirit of the law” in its broadest sense, as opposed to the mere “letter of the law”. The latter is an ass, as everyone knows, especially Raffique Shah (haha).

        Anyone that grew up playing cricket knows that one can stay within the rules of the game, yet do something for which he would be widely condemned, or refrain from doing something that would be legal, and be widely praised for restraint. (I leave the reader to think up examples; Courtney Walsh in a match against Pakistan comes to mind.) So we all know and agree at some level that mere legality does not equate to that which is right, and also seen to be right.

        To act in such fashion, i.e giving primacy to moral and spiritual values, is not “Presidential adventurism”. This is what is demanded of the office, and which is why the President in his official functions cannot be questioned by any court (other than both houses of parliament and four judges, convened against him in a court of impeachment). ANR Robinson acquitted himself well in that regard when it was his turn to have his mettle tested.

        On purely “legal” argumentation, one could, and many did, argue that ANR was “wrong” in that matter involving the PNM-UNC tie. Nevertheless, no one could seriously argue that he was acting contrary to his oath of office, or that he fell short in his duty to do the “right thing” without fear or favour.

        Carmona did not do so in this instance. And the fact that he felt the need to “call the other lawyer names”, by making that scathing and unnecessary reference to “rumshop logic” on the other side, is the give-away that he himself, at some level, felt he did not do the right thing.

        Be that as it may, we all should wish him well. And I for one most certainly do.


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