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Has the man no shame?
Posted: Sunday, May 1, 2005

A comment on accusations of bribery implicating two members of Trinidad and Tobago's Parliament

By Linda E. Edwards

"I got your back", is a saying (with no sexual connotations), that young African-Americans use proudly all the time. They use it to say "I'm in your corner", "If they mess with you, they have to deal with me", "I'm watching out for you." These are the statements of true friends.

There must be statements of similar worth that backstabbers use, to show that I'll do you in regardless, that my mean-spiritedness will drag you into the dirt, that you will be so muddied that you will be unable to rise above it, and that I'll be willing to go into the pit with you, if only for spite. I do not know what these phrases are. I have never had need for them.

The stunning revelation made by the PNM Councilors for Mayaro, that he had paid bribes to two current PNM Ministers, followed by the UNC announcements about these allegations by reading a letter in Parliament, followed by the revealing of the affidavit alleging that he had lied, and the tremendous damage that this may have done to his former friend Minister Khan, causes me to raise the question that titles this piece. Has the man no shame?

Well, maybe he has. He is reportedly in hiding. The UNC is calling for police protection for an apparently shameless liar, and our already overtaxed and much criticized police service is expected to guard Mr. Dhanshook and his family. From what? The justifiable anger of Minister Franklin Khan, who lent the man some money, and therefore was in a position to expect money from him, money which the latter now says was bribe money?

And why, may I ask did the UNC not check this out before making dramatic announcements? Is this another red herring across the trail of the Piarco Probe? Serious politicians, on getting such damaging information about two members of the Parliament, could have gone to the Prime Minister with their allegations and data in writing, met with Mr. Khan to hear his side of the story, and then, if they were satisfied with the veracity of the report, reveal the information in the House.

As it is, the Guardian and The Express, by publishing three stories on the issue today, April 30th, have completely discredited both sets of accusers, the friend who apparently borrowed the money in good faith, then betrayed the loyalty of both party and person; and the UNC who were loud in trumpeting the accusations, and are now equally loud in calling for police protection for a man who made them look like fools. Protection from whom? The UNC? Who was it who raised the question, the comparison, on this issue, of Mr. Sumairsingh, late of the Rio Claro- Mayaro Regional Corporation?

Newsday only carried one story: Minister Khan's statement, including an invitation to examine his books. There is an unanswered question of who leaked this information to the media, and the UNC, the man who had already sworn to an affidavit that he was lying, or some intermediate factotum, unaware of all that was going down, but anxious to feed the maws of a scandal hungry nation? The Integrity Commission may have some work to do here.

How do you teach integrity to people who prefer gutter politics and have grown grossly overweight on a diet of same?

Today, in my town of residence, they are burying a school principal who committed suicide after being accused of something he apparently did not do. It is alleged that he did not get along well with his superintendent, who is charged by the state with running the district. He left that district and found a job in another, where he was well respected, and where he first had to pass a police check of good character. It is alleged by those who know him, that the former superintendent, whose qualifications for the position were questioned by the principal; called his new supervisor and alleged that he was guilty of gross misconduct with a young man at his former school. The principal resigned and committed suicide. I asked the person who related this story to me, why did he take himself out? Why did he not fight it? He said that the man knew that his career was over. The whispering campaign was more dangerous than the truth.
It is to be hoped that both Mr. Khan, MP, and Mr. Williams, MP, who bears the name of our beloved first Prime Minister, are made of stronger stuff that the suicide victim here in Houston.

If and when the accuser comes out of hiding, some creative punishment should be designed for him. Perhaps he could be made to wear a dunce cap, stand somewhere on the Brian Lara promenade out of range of shooters on workforce gangs, and carry a large advertising sign that says something like: " I am the betrayer of friends, I borrow from them and lie on them, behold- a man with no shame". Then is would not matter if people tossed rotten eggs or over-ripe tomatoes at him, he will not be shamed.

All fun and joke aside: If the stories in the papers now, the three versions, are true, the man owes the nation an apology.

When we are tarnished by our own, we look blacker in the eyes of the world, than if others had smeared us.

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