Opposition Leader accused of hiring relatives at Siparia constituency office

By Ria Taitt
March 19, 2016 – trinidadexpress.com

Kamla Persad-BissessarAllegations of a breach of the Parliament rules against the hiring of relatives gathered momentum yesterday with fresh claims that Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has broken the rules too.

Reports surfaced yesterday that Persad-Bissessar has employed two of her relatives at her Siparia constituency office for well over a decade.

With the recent dismissal of Marlene McDonald as housing minister, which was triggered by the revelations that she had ­employed her romantic partner, Michael Carew, and his brother, Lennox, in her Port of Spain South constituency office, the issue of nepotism in the hiring in constituency offices has come under the spotlight.

On Facebook and WhatsApp, messages were being posted yesterday alleging that Usha Persad and Lisa Harry, employees at the Siparia constituency office, were related to Persad-Bissessar.
Subscriber to the Trinidad Express Newspapers for access to this article via their e-paper

Query on Kamla’s relatives employed at her Siparia office

March 19, 2016 – guardian.co.tt

Allegations surfaced last night that two relatives of former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar are employed at her Penal constituency office.

The news came last night in a CNC3 report, two days after the firing of MP Marlene McDonald as housing minister by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Thursday.

McDonald was axed for hiring her common-law husband Michael Carew and brother-in-law Lennox Carew at her Port-of-Spain South constituency office, a move that is in breach of the parliamentary regulations.

CNC3 stated that they were reliably informed that a cousin and niece of Persad-Bissessar were employees at her office.
Full Article : guardian.co.tt

A very grey area

Newsday Editorial
March 19, 2016 – newsday.co.tt

“The latest matters which McDonald faced was a report stating she employed Carew at her constituency office in breach of a Parliament manual at a time when the ban on employing family was restricted to the employment of immediate family members.

“It has since emerged that the Parliament arrangements changed in September 2015 and the definition of people banned widened to include: “(1) spouses; (2) co-habitants; (3) children/step-children/adopted children/grandchildren; (4) parents/ step-parents/grandparents; (5) siblings; (6) nephews/nieces; (7) uncles/ aunts; and (8) cousins”.

“At least three Opposition MPs have been identified so far as having once fallen afoul of this new arrangement: Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Princes Town MP Barry Padarath and Mayaro MP Rushton Paray. However, in the case of Persad-Bissessar and Padarath, both took action to remove the people from their payrolls once the issue was raised, effective March 1.”
Full Article : newsday.co.tt

9 thoughts on “KAMLA MUST GO TOO”

  1. Prakash, Suruj: Rowley took too long to act
    Opposition MPs Prakash Ramadhar and Suruj Rambachan have said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley took too long to act on the allegations against former housing minister Marlene McDonald.
    Both Rambachan and Tim Gopeesingh said yesterday as well that McDonald, who breached the Parliament rules on the hiring of people for the constituency office, should also resign as an MP, while Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said he was “saddened” and “disappointed”.
    Subscriber to the Trinidad Express Newspapers for access to this article via their e-paper

  2. The new law was enacted in September, yet the ILP said the former PM nieces were employed for over a decade. So that law is a retroactive law? lol. If the law was put in place only in September, then there is a grace period for compliance. That grace period may have been 30 days. So I fail to see the comparison to McDonald who hired her spouse when the law clearly stated it should not have been long before the revised law.

  3. Anthony Carmona, Kamla Persad Bissessar, Zainool Hosein and Kirk Waithe. What do these names have in common? – HYPOCRACY, BOLDFACEDNESS, LACK OF MORAL COMPASS AND ACUMEN.

    Kamla – “Kamla: Victory for the people” is she for real?
    Isn’t this the same woman who, as Prime Minister, employed her sister at government’s expense to be her private nurse? Isn’t she the same woman who took her sister on forting trips everywhere she went? Isn’t she the same woman who took a contingent of family and friends on her official trip to India at government’s expense? Now, is she the same woman who is now pontificating about ‘victory for the people’ at Marlene McDonald’s expense? Is she the same woman who employs her own relatives in her office? Well, if those questions are to be answered in the positive, we can clearly see why this country is in the state of moral, ethical and constitutional decay. Several things come to mind, when one examines the madness of the past almost six years of governance. (1) The oath of office is a farce. (2) Lack of values in examining morality, ethics and conscience. (3) We need proper guidelines on morality, ethics and some kind of rules on how conscience should be invoked.

    The oath of office
    As currently practiced, members of parliament take oaths of office based on their personal religious beliefs. As currently practiced, this is neither applicable or reliable as a way to give promise of behavior while in office. There should be ONE OATH OF OFFICE. Whether one is christian, muslim, hindu or atheist, they should be guided by the same moral codes on conduct. This would ensure that when a member of parliament raises his/her hand and swears, such oath cannot be mis-interrperted, mis-understood or mis-applied in practice. As member of Parliament for Siparia, she swore on the Bhagavad Gita.
    What does that mean to me as a christian constituent of hers? NOTHING! All that really means that based on her religious beliefs she can uphold the laws and govern in ways that her conscience dictates, guided by her religious principles. So, if her religious principles does not necessarily abide by morality, she is not bound to be so guided. This makes her constitutionally unaffected, were she to be corrupt and immoral and unethical in the course of her official duties. BY the same token, the christians who swore on the bible, are morally bound to uphold the oaths and promises. Given these two different configurations, it makes Marlene constitutionally responsible while Kamla, with a record of moral and ethical mishaps ‘innocent’. This is due primarily to what religious practice they adhere to. With an oath of allegiance that does not take into consideration one’s religious affiliation, it would make greater sense of commonality of promise of behavior while in offi ce. CHANGE THE RELIGIOUS OATH TO ONE GUIDED BY THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF ALLEGIANCE TO PERFORMANCE, INTEGRITY, MORALITY AND ETHICS. BY so doing, a hindu serving a christian constituent share the same values that is expected of that office and vice versa.

    Lack of Values in examining morality, ethics and conscience:
    EVERYONE holding public office today is aware that the standards to which we adhere to governance were built by people of christian beliefs, promulgated by people of christian beliefs,
    the platforms to which most of our societal norms are practiced were from standards set by christian principles. To deny this is to he hypocrite. Similarly, in her appraisal of Marlene’s fate, Kamla used those moral principles (christian) to judge her. So, if she is cognizant of those principles, why does she now expect her behavior to be different from that of Marlene’s?
    TO DO SO IS TO BE HYPOCRITE. And the questions should naturally arise as to why do we have so many hypocrites holding public offices. To hold public office is to hold one in higher confidence, higher respect and having greater expectations for good deeds. The public official is not there only to represent himself or herself. They are there to seek and represent the good of all in their given constituencies. So a higher standard of conduct is in order without exceptions. There should be no double standard. There should be no partiality in judging behavior. The same standard should be expected for all and sundry. So, when Kamla uses her sister as nurse at public expense, employs her family (niece or nephew) to work in her her office, how is that different from Marlene employing her boyfriend and boyfriend’s brother? If we want our public officials to be judged by moral standards, then there should not be one set of morality for the likes of Kamla, Carmona (who is yet to address the public outcry of his $28,000 a month housing allowance. The man heading the Integrity Commission, has shown a lack of integrity of working for the UNC (while head of the IC) and making judgements on the fate of people belonging to other parties. He cannot really be expected to belong to an Integrity Commisiion, he is most likely suited to be the instrument of corruption than deciding on integrity. And now, Mr Kirk Waithe. I am sure that he is christian and by his actions believe in the christian principles of FairPlay. If true law is to be applied in the case of Marlne McDonald, one can start by saying that a boyfriend is NOT family, a boyfriend’s brother is not family either. Does personal relations exist?. Yes, certainly but not familial in the logical sense of the word.
    So, if Mr Waithe is so perturbed by the moral behavior of Marlene’s, then I take it that he should be equally alarmed by the same or worse behavior of one holding the office of Prime Minister (Kamla).

    Proper Guidelines on morality and ethics:
    When caught with immoral and unethical behavior, Kamlq is quick to mention law and timeline. The truth is she should be guided by conscience. When we get to the point where we have to put morality, ethics and conscience in written forms, then we have denigrated as a civil society. What is wrong with expecting people who hold higher public office to behave at a higher moral and ethical standard? This should be an expectation that any official should feel proud to display. When such people fall short of expectations, then they are not suited to hold such offices. It has been said that Mr. Waithe has been on the payroll of the past administration, if he is guided by allegiance to the past administration and does not wish to voice the resignation of Kamla with equal determination, then he will be seen as just another hypocrite, using the media to advance his personal ambitions.

  4. There are so many corrupt practices occurring in Trinidad IT IS NOT FUNNY ANYMORE. THIS IS SIMPLY JUST ONE OF THE MANY TYPES THAT HAS PLAGUED OUR COMMUNITIES FOR MANY YEARS. I cry out whenever each is vented as my family had suffered for years. Most of my siblings fled Trinidad only to find out the source of these corruptions come from foreign interests and these scams are bedrocked in North America as we continue to tend to copy each one of them and this has been so since the 60s and I remember distinctly persons like VALMON JONES (another JONES)and their exploits. I also recall back in the 50s the very first PNM meeting that was held at Hibiscus drive and the Morne Coco road in PETIT VALLEY, DIEGO MARTIN….MY UNCLE’E HOME FOR MANY YEARS… the house was like a palace then but it is NOW in ruins as this is one of his many estate assets being dragged around the T&T courts unresolved. Eric was a very good all round giving human being. He was asked by the PNM after this very first meeting with his namesake Eric in the 50s to join their efforts in the PNM but he declined. Since that time although he continued to succeed business wise he later found out that if you are not part of the politics in T&T like the USA you and your family suffers in T&T. Meanwhile my family taught us that hard work and focusing on your career path goals are all you need for success…. you stay the course…you balance your life between family and work etc. But in T&T it is “who you know and WHO KNOW YOU” that counts most….THE PULL STRING OR NETWORKING SCHEME TO GET A GOOD JOB…persons who followed this rule often times fall by the wayside largely because of their FALSE PAPERS and NONE PERFORMANCE ACHIEVEMENTS. However in the last 50-60 years our country has completely lost its way forward with finger pointing as to where the wrongs occurred coming left right and centre. How do we change this has now become virtually impossible as trustworthiness is a huge element in protecting your turf or market share in T&T. Yet the trust in our leaders have vanished. Governments no longer serve the people but their own and very often robs the treasury. THE MOST THATT COMES OUT OF THIS LIKE IN MARLENE’S CASE IS THAT THEY ARE FIRED. BUT THEN AGAIN THEY SHOW UP IN ANOTHER SPHERE OF GOVERNMENT AGAIN MAKING A KILLING. It is race that is nearly always used in any given situation as a diversionary tactic to get us to look the other way while they continue to do their dirty works. Lately religion has become very important as well. There are a few christian religions where you actually pay to get ahead….where you must give a chunk of your salary and pretend you believe what they are preaching….the JIM JONES MODIFIED APPROACH. These religions have quietly over the years invested in quite a lot of profit oriented businesses and they help only their own. So hard work and achievements are NO LONGER THE PREREQUISITES for job acquisition or job elevation. The middle class who remained Catholic or Anglican has long suffered in T&T and their following are very markedly reduced. We also see the immense growth of the Muslim and Hindu faiths and it is clear the huge materialistic worlds these faiths acquire over time. It is important to note the sway by the muslim radical populations in almost every part of the world including Trinidad and Tobago…the famous growth of the sleeper cells that have reached the school systems. So to the subject matter here IT IS NOT SURPRISING. I wonder if this will lead into the private sectors where this is very much rampant in areas where foreigners in T&T are making a killing. These foreigners come to our country and join a local partner who injects little….WE THE CITIZENS GET ALMOST NOTHING FROM THESE VENTURES … they people their organisation with POLITICAL PICKS AND UPPER CLASS FAMILY PICKS and we the middle class of particularly mixed race despite all our hard earned tertiary education gets nothing. SO THE STATE OF THE COUNTRY WITH INVESTORS LIKE MITTAL IS NOT AT ALL SURPRISING JUST AS WITH THE MARLENE AND NOW KAMLA WOOS (the skeletons in the closets are coming out). AND NOW THE SHIT IS HITTING THE FAN. What Miss Regis needs to tell us is where the $93000 really came from? WE ARE NOT STUPID! A LOT NEEDS TO CHANGE IN T&T AND IT STARTS FROM THE PRESIDENT GOING RIGHT ALL THE WAY DOWN THE SOCIETY. A COUNTRY SUCH AS OURS AND A SMALL ONE AT THAT WILL FACE ANARCHY CONDITIONS WHERE THERE WILL BE GROUPS OF REACTIONARIES AND IT HAS ALREADY STARTED IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM WITH THE CHILDREN AND THE GARCIA CLAN WHO CAN DO NO WRONG.

  5. Kamla: Family ‘properly employed’ by my office
    “I state categorically today, that no spouse of mine, children of mine or parents of mine have ever been employed at the constituency office.” This was received with a loud applause. However, she said, it was brought to her attention that those guidelines were changed after the elections in 2015.

    She said in addition to spouse, children and parents, the new guidelines included a category under relatives. Persad-Bissessar said, “There are two persons in my office who may fall as being hired under the category of relatives.” “The question arises whether having been employed by the regulations in place—the guidelines, 20 years ago, 14 years ago, right up until September—whether they (employees) now fall into these restricted categories. “To that end, having been brought to my attention, I have communicated with the Clerk of the House seeking clarification and advice on the changes in the guidelines, as to first state whether these employees should be terminated.”

    Additionally, Persad-Bissessar said she wanted to know whether any renumeration paid to them by the Parliament would have to be reimbursed from September. She also sought to find out what arrangements would be put in place for those who have been employed on a contiguous basis and were properly hired under the guidelines.
    Full Article : guardian.co.tt

  6. Fixin’ T&T: Probe Kamla too*
    PRESSURE group Fixin’ T&T yesterday said it was “deeply troubled” and “utterly confused” by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s response to the fact that she has two relatives employed at her Siparia constituency office in breach of the Parliament rules.

    …ILP: Weak excuses from Opposition

    Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Princes Town MP Barry Padarath must resign as they ought to have known that hiring relatives was a breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act, stated the Independent Liberal Party (ILP).

    In a release, the ILP rejected the “weak” explanations given by Persad-Bissessar and Padarath with respect to the hiring of their relatives as employees in their respective constituency offices.

    ILP political leader Rekha Ramjit yesterday stated that both MPs, “through the authority they possess by virtue of their offices, knowingly hired their relatives”.

    “Their conduct amount to knowing abuse of authority, conflict of interest, breach of Parliament policy, breach of convention, violation of the Code of Conduct of the Integrity in Public Life Act and bringing their respective offices into disrepute,” she stated.
    She stated that in legal terms, this is a matter of strict liability. Ramjit pointed out that the Integrity in Public Life Act – Part IV prohibits the use of office by a Person in Public Life for the improper advancement of their own personal gain, that of their family or the financial interest of such persons.

    Offers to pay back $$

    The Act also empowers the Integrity Commission to consider and enquire into any alleged breaches of the Act or any allegations of corrupt or dishonest conduct on the Commission’s own initiative or upon the complaint of any member of the public.

    She stated further that the move to pay back the salary does not undo the breach.

    “The ILP wishes to point out that whether or not the salaries paid to the relatives of Persad-Bissessar and Padarath are returned to the State – as Padarath is proposing for the $10,000 per month salary he assigned to his immediate family member whom he hired — this does not undo the fact that the breaches of the Parliament’s hiring policy and the Integrity in Public Life Act have occurred,” she stated.

    “It also does not erase the intention of the MPs which was to use the opportunity of their offices to endow their relatives and to give their family preferential consideration for employment. It does not erase the immoral and unethical conduct that has taken place by the MPs, which amounts to a breach of the public trust,” she added.


  7. Opposition leader’s defence is unconvincing

    Published: March 22, 2016

    Clearly there is far more to be heard about similar behaviour among several other Members of Parliament on both sides.

    Over the last couple days information on at least four opposition MPs has surfaced with the claim that they have hired members of their families who are prohibited in the Parliamentary handbook from taking up paying jobs in the constituency offices of their relative MP.

    The production of the handbook of regulations is a responsibility of the Speaker of the House and the regulations are said to reflect principles and policies enunciated over time to guard the public purse from abuse by elected members. The rules have not fallen from the sky.

    Questions have also been raised about a couple other MPs on the Government benches possibly breaching the said rules with regard to hiring at constituency offices and with public funds.

    Interestingly in the instance of two UNC MPs, Barry Padarath and opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, they have suggested that if the money received by their relatives is repaid then all will be well.

    But should it be that simple for exemplars to openly violate regulations set down to protect public funds against nepotism and other forms of corruption in public office and not suffer any censure and there be no reflection on the matter by the Integrity Commission?

    Moreover, the UNC members are making these “nice” settlement alternatives for themselves while having demanded and with all the moral authority at their command that Ms Mc Donald should now be removed from her seat in the House of Representatives because she hired her spouse in her constituency office.

    If such a formula against wrongdoing were to be selectively applied to certain MPs, how does the State then have the moral gumption to say to other wrong doers that they must pay the full penalty for disobeying rules, regulations and the laws of T&T?

    It is even more frightening to contemplate that the UNC leaders by adopting such an approach to violations committed by them are saying that Parliament and its rules and regulations are not important and can be violated by them without full consequences.

    In the instance of MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar, a former prime minister and now leader of the opposition, rhetorical sleight of hand has been employed. She is very sure that the 2010-2015 rules and regulations of the Parliament did not apply to her two relatives.

    But she then says in relation to the new regulations post-September 2015 “it has been brought to my attention there are two persons who may fall as being hired under the category of relatives,” who cannot so be hired by an MP.

    One, did Mrs Persad-Bissessar as MP receive the new regulations? If so, when? Is she responsible as an MP, a very senior one at that, for making herself aware of the regulations contained in the handbook, why does she have to be informed of them second hand?

    At minimum, Mrs Persad-Bissessar is guilty of gross negligence for failing to adequately perform her responsibilities as an MP.

    In the instance of PNM MPs, other than Ms McDonald, they need to come clean and lay out in great detail whether or not they have hired family members in their constituency offices and against the rules laid out for such practices.

    Source: http://www.guardian.co.tt/editorial/2016-03-22/opposition-leader%E2%80%99s-defence-unconvincing

  8. This is an issue where those who have something to say, should own up and express themselves. When the issue of Marlene McDonald was raised, it raced to the top of the newscast, everyone with an opinion as to the immorality of Marlene’s judgement came into focus. No effort was spared to show how immoral Marlene was, by employing a man many have said is her live-in boyfriend to work in her office. From a mere practical point of view and in keeping with traditional christian concept of morality, her action can be placed in that category. I too,have worked in Companies where management made it a point never to have husband/wife, brother/sister or daughter/father father/son employed in the same office. This makes perfect sense and it bodes well for maintaining a certain degree of dignity, offering less chances for nepotism in the work place. Kamla was at the forefront of the charge to have Marlene fired for this indiscretion. But since the concept of having immediate family employed in the representative’s office was magnified, Kamla found herself under the same microscope, for having committed the same act she was so vociferous in charging Marlene. Her act of employing immediate family was no different from Marlene really! But now that the spotlight is placed on her, all of a sudden she no longer preaches morality. From her perspective, it should be a matter of following law, of which she (a lawyer) does not quite understand its relevance to current rules and regulations. So, when Marlene, a christian committed it, she was sure Marlene was wrong but now that her actions have been made public, she feels that the law was correct in her case. This is really a case of ‘splitting hairs’. It is NOT dissimilar in morality nor in law. But the case continues to be built, that we need legislation to clarify how the employment of family should be treated. Even a respected former Chief Justice in the form of Michael De La Bastide has thrown in his hat into the ring of calling for legislation. Just the mere fact of looking at the main players who have thrown their hat in this ‘moral’ ring, we can see how divided we are as a country and how the standards differ, depending on who the culprits are. In this case it clearly shows that one law exist for Marlene and another for our dearly beloved former Prime Minister. Many questions are relevantly raised about how standards are applied when public morality and standards of conducts are handled by the media, politicians and even prominent individuals amongst us.
    For example, one could ask why De La Bastide only had something to say when it was Kamla’s time to answer for her misdeeds and was silent about Marlene’s? Is he trying to curry favor by raising the issue of legislation to compound Kamla’s guilt or innocence? If he truly believes that the legislation is not complete, why did he not say so when Marlene was accused initially? Was the timing of his input purely coincidental or did he use his notoriety to soften the case in favor of Kamla?
    We live in a society that blatantly apply laws in favor of some and against others. So, in having my say, it would seem naturally that Kamla faces the same condemnation that Marlene was exposed to. Morality is morality no matter what religion one belongs to. In my reasoning Kamla, a lawyer must know what she was doing was wrong. She does not need an explanation from the clerk of the courts to tell her that she was acting immorally when she employed her family in her office. Just as she knew Marlene was wrong sheer should have known that she too was also wrong. Where was Kirk Waithe when we needed him? Oh! I forgot, in Trinidad it still is different strokes for different folks.

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