Another scandal we’ll forget

By Raffique Shah
May 04, 2014

Raffique ShahDoes anybody remember or know what happened with the scandalous “Section 34” issue? I recall that in the euphoria of the 50th anniversary of Independence, on August 31, 2012, some powerful person had that section of the Administration of Justice Act surreptitiously proclaimed, thereby opening a gateway to immunity (well, almost) for persons charged with corruption in the Piarco Airport matter.

It was the only section of a much wider piece of legislation that was proclaimed. When the scandal broke, the Government hurriedly summoned a sitting of Parliament at which another Bill to repeal Section 34 was debated and passed. Days later, President Max Richards proclaimed the new law.

By then, however, the horses had just about bolted the stable. Several of the accused in the decade-long airport corruption trial-without-end filed for relief. Sometime last year a high court judge ruled against them. Presumably, they appealed that decision and the matter is now lodged with the Court of Appeal.

I raise this almost dead issue in light of the latest scandal to rock the justice system, allegations by former solicitor general Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell that certain attorneys retained by the State may have engaged in unethical practices, or worse.

The suggestions that attorneys and prisoners may be in collusion to milk the State have generated an outcry almost as deafening as the din that accompanied the Section 34 scandal. Just about everybody has commented on its implications and called for the head of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

Maybe I should rephrase that. Predictably, people have adopted partisan positions on the issue, with a few non-partisan persons and institutions (the Prisons Officers Association, the Law Association) calling for an independent investigation of the allegations.

Based on what I have read in the newspapers of Master Patricia Sobion-Awai’s ruling on February 5, and Honeywell’s letter to the Prime Minister last August, I think there is need for a thorough investigation. This should be conducted by a jurist of standing, preferably from elsewhere in the Caribbean, who has no ties or loyalties here, and before whom all parties involved or implicated must appear or submit statements.

Most of all, the former solicitor general will need to identify the persons against whom she made serious charges, to wit, that they may have engaged in an “unethical business venture” that may have had the effect of perverting the course of justice. These are serious charges, and Mrs Honeywell cannot now plead that because she has resigned the position and is in private practise, she has no obligation.

Now, having said all of that, I return to what I believe will be the outcome of this latest brouhaha: nothing!

Jump high or low, shout from the rooftops or the gutter, the Attorney General will neither step aside nor resign. The Prime Minister will not fire him, even if there is a hint of suspicion over his actions or inaction. Because if she gets rid of him, her government falls—it’s that simple.

Ramlogan is not Glenn Ramadharsingh or Chandresh Sharma or Herbert Volney or Therese Baptiste-Cornelis. He is a serious piece of work that the PM appointed to one of the highest offices in the country. Like a caricature of the notorious FBI head J Edgar Hoover, who defiantly survived several US presidents and their administrations, Ramlogan has insulated himself: he is untouchable.

So he is not going anywhere, not until or unless the electorate decides it is time to boot the UNC out of office. And however much Keith Rowley may crow, calling for elections yesterday, there is no certainty about the results.

You see, while people rant and rave and misbehave, cussing the Cabinet every single day for sins of omission and sins of commission, their memories are short. Most will have forgotten about Section 34, as I noted above. Even I have lost track of it.

Since this Government came to office four years ago, it has generated a scandal a month, or more. From promoting private Reshmi to general, to elevating every MP and senator to ministerial position, it has force-fitted a phalanx of square pegs into overstretched round holes.

Its members have fine-tuned the graphic art of falsifying CVs. Cabinet has loaded State boards with party toadies. It has created a lodge-like fraternity among lawyers and professionals who land all the state briefs and consultancies. And it has whittled down the contractors who share the billion dollar spoils to a select few.

But who gives a damn? As long as Trinis have their high-tech cellphones, their flat screen televisions and maybe a flashy ride, they couldn’t care if “Good Friday fall on Ash Wednesday” as Sparrow sang in “Drunk and Disorderly”.

Calder Hart is almost a forgotten name, for all the threats to jail him should he land in Trinidad. Prophetess what’s-her-face is ancient history. The Piarco accused continue to live high on the hog, no fear of jail or justice. And this latest scandal in the AG’s office will die an unnatural death long before elections are held.

If you think I am a pessimist, watch how thousands will “wine in we face” as they mark four years of drunken power in a few weeks time.

2 thoughts on “Another scandal we’ll forget”

  1. Raf,

    You will always be the person I most respect in this country. Trinidad lacks integrity from the top. Our institutions, are filled and thrives on corruption and lack of principles. This includes the judiciary, legal profession, UWI, police, defence force, and the government of the day (whether PNM, UNC, PP etc. etc.) This country is never going to get better.
    There are no true professionals in this country. We live in a failed society.

  2. “I think there is need for a thorough investigation. This should be conducted by a jurist of standing, preferably from elsewhere in the Caribbean, who has no ties or loyalties

    Sometimes one is left to wonder what it is exactly with these Trinis , and their adoration ,for everything foreign, or worst yet, WHITE?
    Yeah Uncle Shah, you want Caribbean experts with no Trini ties. That’s a good one , my good fellow.
    Silent as a Toco mouse, on the much maligned CCJ, but now we claim to not only have a hard on for their investigators, but want those without ties, when 98, out of 100 Trinis, that aren’t born in Tobago, has Caribbean,ties ….ummmmm, close relatives, from one or more islands.
    Seriously folks, what’s the obsession with everything foreign?
    Here we have AG Rammy, and his PM, all suddenly enamored, with our local courts,just because a ruling was to their satisfaction, but don’t mind running to London Law Lords ,to get favorable rulings, when things did not sway their way.,194418.html

    When Basdeo, and his CJ pal , Uncle Shama, were deemed crooks, by our respective courts ,and Bas was about to do extended time, for London secret accounts , they both jumped on the Privy Council bandwagon, for relief.
    A few weeks ago he was high in Praise when the local courts saved him from jail time . Don’t forget UNC heavy roller ,Tabla Head Nizam Mohammed, and his neo racist , anti Black folks/Police promotion comments , with his idle talk about vindication, because local judges gave him a pass.
    Now mind you , I fully understand the reasons for the almost Schizophrenic behavior, by these well placed, power driven citizens, as they strive to grapple with the subtle realities of neo tribal politics in multicultural T&T, and yes, can live with it, since it’s their nature. Here it is in a nutshell:-Denounce , denigrate, suppress , and dismiss, anything controlled by those they naively believe ,are their inferiors, but elevate,promote,and embrace ,all from anyone they fervently accept ,as their superiors.

    What I find disturbing however, is when an Opposition Party , led by a PM in waiting , in Mr Rowley allow it to be known , that he too has no faith in things local. In this case our Law enforcement officials, all he while ,saying with a straight face,that he is a different Political leader , to clueless Patrick Manning.You remember him don’t you? Asleep at the wheels, as our Health care Services ,sunk to the bottom, but quick to hop on a plane to Havana, each time , he got a gas pain.
    Oh yes,destroyed confidence in, and
    respect for, the Police Service, by not only bringing in, overpaid ,Scotland Yard jokers , to end Kidnapping, but supported stupid mechanisms, that eventually saw a White Canadian ,elevated to the post as Commissioner.
    Care to guess what subliminal messages , these folks ,send about their country, each time this attitude is embraced?
    How nutty is this people?Silent as a Fyzabad Mouse , when Israel Khan , wet behind the ears son, was made Prison overseer, but now want foreigners to clear up his mess. Last I checked this Canadian born bozo , had recommended sex leave for prisoners, si?
    So what do we have now? Oh yes, the murder of a high end , Trini celebrity lawyer , and ‘every Tom , Dick, and Bridgelal,’ cannot even give the Police , a chance ,to prove their worth, but instead, are ready to bring in British, and American law enforcement experts.
    Who is now leading the charge you ask? Yep, PNM blokes.

    So now , do we have a better idea, as to why scandals , and crimes cannot be eradicated ?
    A seemingly unscupulous lawyer, for HCU crooked CEO, Harenarine, was slaughtered , like an evil Sicilian /New York -Manhattan Crime Boss/Mafia don ,while he was sitting , in his parked car , while licking an ice cream, or maybe his lollipop, but guess who the family blamed , not only for his death, but recently murdered, high end, celebrity legal star,Dana?
    You bet , local Police.
    Tell you what-I am on the verge of giving my old drill instructor , turn Rasta Senator in Fitzgerald Hinds a call, and advise him to leave that Youth minister post alone, we need him in a bigger position, as me think there is a void in leadership ,re his party.
    For the record, he was the lone voice against the selection of Israel son as some opaque Prison Inspector. We see exactly who and what were been expected. Maybe Uncle Shah is correct, correct,the scandal would be soon forgotten, but it would be for quite different reasons.
    This T&T.
    Say no to tribalism folks!

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