Newsday, July 28, 2002
In his usual fashion, Mr Basdeo Panday has been attacking from 'captain to cook', for being in collusion with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to have him arrested.
The former Prime Minister had promised to reveal "all" when he spoke at a meeting in Couva on Tuesday night last week. This he failed to do and the country still waits to hear some explanation from him that it can truly believe concerning a London bank account which he held jointly with his wife, Oma and which he failed to disclose to the Integrity Commission as the law requires him as a public official to do.
Instead he fell back on his old practice of attacking not only the usual suspects such as the PNM and the media but widening the net on this occasion to include the Police, the Integrity Commission and now even the British Government and its High Commissioner in Port-of-Spain.
It is time for Mr Panday to stop all this and to recognise the damage he is doing not only to the country but to himself and to his party, the United National Congress (UNC).
We are tired of hearing (a) that he had no account; (b) that the account really was his wife's to which he was only a co-signatory; (c) that it was really a joint account which he set up with his wife in 1989 when he went to London for heart surgery and which was kept on for his children's education and administered solely by his wife which all good Indian wives do and (d) that he has now removed his name from the account.
All of this is irrelevant. Whether his name was not on the account, whether he was a co-signatory or the main signatory, or whether it was solely his wife's account, the Integrity Law which his administration passed requires his and his wife's assets to be declared to the Integrity Commission.
Clearly this was not done which is why the Commission forwarded the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the DPP found there were grounds for sending the matter on to the Police for further investigations.
It is not the media, the PNM nor even the British Government that is persecuting Mr Panday. It is Mr Panday who has brought all this on his own head by failing to declare his and his wife's assets however small or large.
What Mr Panday has to realise is that the issue is not likely to go away even if he has taken the decision to answer no more questions on it. His rantings about who leaked what and to whom are meaningless in comparison with the real question as to where did the money come from and why did it end up in a London bank account in the name of Mr and Mrs Basdeo Panday and why was it not disclosed as the law requires. That is the issue that has to be addressed and no amount of smearing other people is going to make it go away.
The issue which the UNC Political Leader affects to ignore is not who talked to whom, not who is in collusion with whom, but what is the truth about the account at the National Westminster Bank, in London and why he failed to declare the account as part of his assets?
If he made a genuine mistake and did not realise that he should have declared this asset, he should simply admit it and let the Integrity Commission decide what steps, if any, should be taken.
Panday must realise that even as the issue of his bank account continues to remain a national concern there are growing rumours of uneasiness in the United National Congress, both at the level of UNC elected Members of Parliament and the Party's National Executive and indeed at the rank and file who want the issue off the national agenda so that it can concentrate its energies on the coming election.
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