9 Dec 2018

A question of integrity

What, pray tell, is integrity? For most of us, it is the idea of having a strong moral position, a conscious choice to be honest, upright, and most importantly, the ability to resist temptation to use positions of influence and power for personal gain, or the gain of friends and family.

Sadly, my observations – which I have documented in case proof was needed – for the past 10 years or so indicates that integrity is sadly lacking within the PNM fold. Let me step aside here for a moment: that statement, particularly the acronym ‘PNM’ will certainly raise the hackles of people on two fronts – racism, and political division between ‘Indians’ and ‘Afros’ – but that is the nature of the beast. Hopefully, some will settle down to read further where explain my position. And note this sentence carefully: this does not mean that I approve of or that I have not observed the same with other political parties!

My introduction to integrity within the PNM started with the Rowley saga of Landate. From all accounts in the public domain – which I will not rehash – there appeared to be a prima facie case of loss (or lack) of integrity on the part of Rowley with regard to materials to be used for a hospital project ending up at a private building project.

Still sticking with the team of integrity, the then Integrity Commission rejected the idea of procedural integrity and did not give the then minister an opportunity to be heard. This is a breach of the natural rules of justice, and so, the matter was dropped, and the entire Integrity Commission was forced to resign.

Another incident involved Stone Capital, and Andre Monteil and the Home Mortgage Bank. Don’t forget:

  • Monteil was treasurer of the PNM
  • Monteil was the group financial director of CL Financial, the parent company of Clico and the chairman of Clico Investment Bank.
  • The shares were initially Clico's.
  • The sale was facilitated by a 2007 amendment to the Home Mortgage Bank Act (coincidently passed by a PNM administration).
  • Clico provided the funds to Monteil to purchase its shares for himself.

    Joan Yuille-Williams gave out some $46 million over a period of four years, in secret scholarships (non-advertised). Lest readers forget, I point out the following:

    • A beneficiary to the tune of $500,000 worth was Laurel Lezama, daughter-in-law of Louis lee Sing, PNM financier and politician.
    • No record is available on whether that “scholarship” was ever repaid.

      In the Express of April 15, 2010 there was a picture of Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald giving away cheques to her constituents. Whose money was that?

      Don’t forget, in questions on integrity arose when it was revealed that Marlene McDonald’s common-law ‘husband’ Michael Carew was granted an HDC house by Marlene using her influence. Mr Carew and his brother were also beneficiaries of grants from the ministry headed by Marlene McDonald. Integrity it seems fell to the wayside.

      And today’s Newsday once again has Marlene McDonald proving once more that she does not know what integrity means (09/12/2018 – https://newsday.co.tt/2018/12/09/i-protect-my-friends/).

      “The man has worked under three ministries led by McDonald since she entered politics in 2007. He began in the ministry of community development, culture and gender affairs. From 2007-2010, McDonald was the minister in charge of that ministry. Following the 2015 general election, McDonald was appointed housing minister and it was then the “nice man” was hired at the People’s Issues Resolution Co-ordinating Unit (PIRCU) at the housing ministry.”

      As always, what I have written above can be easily found in the public domain; I am a scribe collecting and collating.

      Readers may wonder why I pay so much attention to integrity, honesty, ethics et cetera. After all, aren’t lawyers supposed to be bereft of these qualities? Perhaps it is my own personal make up that keeps me alive to these issues. Perhaps it is because within legal training there is a lot of philosophy, ethics and integrity. I would like to think that I will not lose this perspective. Whenever I feel myself falling short, I hope I am reminded to revisit my online postings and realign my moral compass.

      28 Oct 2018

      The difference is clear

      Image result for singaporeI am tired of all the whinging excuses made by those in authority… From Prime Minister to local government councillors, from CEOs to the lowest managers, everyone seems to be passing the buck. Administration after administration on the governmental level have heaped upon our heads, excuses upon excuses for failure to deliver. Take for example, the abysmal and annually repeated flooding…

      This could have been fixed decades ago. But no administration wanted to be the heavy hand that smites discipline, that attempts to change the culture of apathy, “gimme gimme”, feting and carnival mentality, and just plain laziness.

      A simple comparison: another island/city state achieved independence from the British Raj in a few years after Trinidad and Tobago. This state lies a mere 1° north of the equator – so it is similar in climate to Trinidad and Tobago. It is 1/7 the size of Trinidad and Tobago, lacking the natural resources that Trinidad and Tobago has in abundance.

      Within one generation, roughly 30 years, this state became a first world sovereign nation. Not only that, it is the only country in Asia and one of 11 worldwide with a ‘AAA’ rating. It is a global hub for education, entertainment, finance, healthcare, human capital, innovation, logistics, manufacturing, technology, tourism, trade, and transport. It ranks highly in numerous international rankings, and has been recognized as the most "technology-ready" nation (WEF), top International-meetings city (UIA), city with "best investment potential" (BERI), world's smartest city, world's safest country, third-most competitive country, third-largest foreign exchange market, third-largest financial centre, third-largest oil refining and trading centre, fifth-most innovative country, and the second-busiest container port, and the most expensive city to live in, since 2013. [Wikipedia]

      The place I describe is none other than Singapore.

      The difference is of course due to leadership with vision, determination, and the political will to get things done. Coupled with enforcement of the law, Singapore far outstrips Trinidad and Tobago, which lags so far behind that one cannot even make a comparison.

      Perhaps in another 200 years…

      17 Sep 2018

      The fall of it all

      5b9db30438973.imageMarket Facts and Opinions (MFO) carried out a survey in which 83% of respondents said that same-sex relationships in Trinidad and Tobago should not be legal. I have bad news for those people…

      You’ll be dragged by the scruff of the neck, kicking and screaming in protest, into the 21st century. The tide is already against you, as is the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago (“the Constitution”).

      Let me begin with the Constitution; Chapter 1, section 4 in particular, where the rights of citizens are given voice:

      “It is hereby recognised and declared that in Trinidad and Tobago there have existed and shall continue to exist, without discrimination by reason of race, origin, colour, religion or sex, the following fundamental human rights and freedoms, namely:

      (a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;

      (b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law;

      (c) the right of the individual to respect for his private and family life;

      (d) the right of the individual to equality of treatment from any public authority in the exercise of any functions;

      (e) the right to join political parties and to express political views;

      (f) the right of a parent or guardian to provide a school of his own choice for the education of his child or ward;

      (g) freedom of movement;

      (h) freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance;

      (i) freedom of thought and expression;

      (j) freedom of association and assembly; and

      (k) freedom of the press.”

      Clearly, the Sexual Offences Act is incompatible with the rights at b, c and d. So is the Equal Opportunity Act 2000 where on page 8 it defines ‘sex’ as not including sexual orientation.

      imageParagraph 144 of Justice Rampersad’s judgment in Jones v AG of Trinidad and Tobago and others (2018) quotes extensive case law where discrimination of homosexuality was found to be incompatible with modern human rights in democratic societies.

      My take on this is that the human rights aspect will be given the importance it demands and any incompatibility with other parts of the Constitution and/or statutes (Acts of Parliament) will result in amendments to preserve the human rights aspect, since the fundamental rights are protected within the Constitution.

      14 Sep 2018

      Thought for the day

      Justice and truth are the common ties of society; and therefore even outlaws and robbers, who break with all the world besides, must keep faith and rules of equity amongst themselves; or else they cannot hold together.

      (Locke 1690, I.ii.2.)

      9 Sep 2018

      I’m making enemies again

      Trinis jokey too bad, oui. Lemme explain.

      I saw a post my cousin put on FaceBook, about people going to the cricket (Caribbean Premier League or something – I am not a cricket fan – referred to as CPL), and paying touts to park in private property, the fenced yards of people living in the area. Some of the touts were so brazen, they cut the locks off the gates, put people to park there and charged them.

      Of course, the owners called the police wreckers, especially when they realised they can’t get sleep because people coming back late hours AFTER the match to get their vehicles. The wreckers tow the vehicles and the owners have to pay TT$500 to get a vehicle back from impound.

      From my point of view, I like the idea of them paying twice over for stupidity like that. Maybe it’s the sadist in me, but people learn through pain too, not only reward. So, after being hit in the pocket twice, and inconvenience of losing time having to make their way to the impound lot outside the city… well, I mentioned I have no sympathy for them. If you can’t see you’re parking in private property or in front of private property, you deserve that shit that comes your way.

      Now, apparently my cousin’s husband was one of those who was caught in this. I didn’t intend to insult him, but he fell into the bracket of dotish people.

      My cousin took offence, yammering on about how I don’t know her husband… blah, blah, blah. So, because he is your husband, he can’t be dotish? I tell you, some people eh.

      But further, my cousin has resorted to the cheapest of all tricks, ad hominem attacks on me… calling me a conman who is in hiding in the UK. Not the first time I’ve heard such rumours, though oddly enough, the same cousin met me several times when I went back to Trinidad on holidays. And was nice to me.

      Now, if I am a conman, she has my address to give to the police. Let’s see what the future unfolds. Open-mouthed smile

      In the meantime, I have even less sympathy for her husband.