11 May 2012

Expressing the true self

I have several things to comment on today, so that this might be a rather long post; I would therefore jump right in:

First, let us deal with another "misstep" by Tobago Development Minister Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, who has been dubbed by the media as "Shoppin Toppin" for the alleged misuse of government credit card. Now it seems that she, and her husband (who coincidentally was also accused of misusing the credit card), are involved in another scandal.

Alleyne-Toppin and her spouse Lenn Toppin are listed directors of Roxborough Folk Performers, an artistic group based in Tobago. Some time ago, the Minister contacted one Debora Alleyne-De Gazon, the owner of the Creative Learning Company, which is based in the UK.

On March 26, 2011 she stated: "Debbie I want to bring my choir to London for two weeks in June or later in the summer. I need you to take charge of that. Organise us to take part in any festival that you can find and concerts organised by you".

After organising the tour which was to include accommodation at the dorms of Queen Mary University of London the cost of £9,502.41 and include performances at the Leeds Millennium Square, Leeds West Indian Centre, Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Luton Town Centre, Carnival Village (London), Cardiff Town Centre lasting from Friday, July 22, 2011 to Thursday August 4, 2011, the Creative Learning Company was left out in the cold… No contact, no money, no communication. Alleyne-De Gazon, managing director of Creative Learning Company said (concerning her lost fees) in correspondence to the Minister:

"This information was shared with you both as well as the minister's secretary, Miss Priscilla Campbell who was charged with the responsibility of liaising with me. My colleagues (at CLC) felt it was not a job we searched out. It was a request made by a woman of prominence..We...did not have a signed contract as we usually do. I gave them my word that the minister was a reputable person who I knew from childhood. Unfortunately my trust was destroyed by the appalling level of communication and respect handed down...On the Friday before our first performance,...myself and another artist were left waiting at the Gatwick Airport (for the group which never left Tobago)...Despite the group not being able to travel neither of you had the courtesy to contact me. I had to call the Minister of Tobago Affairs from the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission (as this was my next place of business for the day)...I do not understand why a text, an e-mail, or a phone call could not have been made at a reasonable time to let me know you had to cancel. This situation has indeed created obstacles for me to gain the support and respect from some of these reputable British organisations, if I am desirous through Creative Learning Circuit of accommodating other groups from Tobago. This is something you or no amount of money would be able to set straight."

So far, documentation received by the Daily Express are not favourable to the Minister. If someone says "high-flying con woman", I may just have to whistle.

I think it is important to note that this morning while commenting was allowed on the Express website, at this time all commenting is disabled and deleted. Did someone make a high-level phone call and stop freedom of expression?

Secondly, the behaviour of Farid Scoon, the attorney for former HCU president Harry Harnarine has once more been called to the attention of the public. Lest you forget, last year Scoon was chastised over his bullying behaviour and made national headlines when he appeared at the commission of enquiry into the collapse of the Hindu Credit Union (HCU).

Once more, he began behaving like an untrained lout, even prompting the chairman of the enquiry Colman to tell Scoon to "shut up!".

Colman had to warn Scoon "to let the witness finish".

Queen's Counsel Edwin Glasgow, who leads the enquiry's investigations into the collapse of the HCU, called on Scoon to "give up his shouting".

Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, the attorney for the commissioner of cooperatives, called on Scoon to "moderate his technique".

Scoon did not let the witness continue and insisted that Ramnarine had been dropped by the Central Bank.

“Let the witness finish,” Colman said. The chairman tapped against his microphone to get Scoon’s attention but to no avail as Scoon continued, saying, “The Central Bank refused to accept you as a fit and proper person.”

Finally, the chairman said, “Shut up Mr Scoon!”

With an opportunity to respond, the witness said, “You cannot stop auditing. It is the company’s prerogative to change auditors. I was never informed. How would I know if I was never informed. Would HCU give us audits of their subsidiaries?”

Scoon replied, “I don’t know who is asking the questions here.”

Scoon’s pitch was notably louder than most attorneys at the inquiry. His cross-examination raised eyebrows with counsel for the inquiry Edwin Glasgow QC five times accusing him of “shouting” and of not conforming to good practice at the bar.

“If my learned friend would listen a little more than he shouts perhaps he would hear the responses,” Glasgow said at one point.

At another stage, attorney for the Commissioner of Cooperative Development Reginald Armour SC also intervened. He urged Scoon to “moderate his technique of cross-examination.” “I don’t like to see what borders on intimidation. It irks me somewhat,” he said.

At the time, Scoon was cross-examining a chartered accountant, Madan Ramnarine whose testimony appeared to make him expressly robed in virgin white. Many persons forget that he was also the accountant heading the audit committee of UDeCOTT and also a board member. Can someone say Pontius Pilate?

Thirdly, dunceys are back in the news. Here is an article in the Newsday in which a man are (Rohan Arjoon) was beaten so severely, it is sickening to even read about what he went through.

On June 13, at approximately 6.30 in the afternoon, I was doing some work for my neighbour,” Arjoon deposed in his statement filed at the High Court in support of his case, which has been obtained by Newsday. “I was changing some galvanise on her house.”

“A short while after I started doing the work for my neighbour, some police officers arrived at the house of my neighbour where I was working.”

Three officers exited a marked police vehicle: Officer Thomas Bernard; Officer Salick Jagroop and Officer Russell Bahadoor. They were in uniform.

“They proceeded to tell me that I was under arrest for being in possession of stolen items,” Arjoon said. “The officers told me that I ‘lock up’ and they carried me into the police vehicle.”

A 13-year-old neighbour, called Crookshan, who had reportedly given the police “information” about Arjoon, was also arrested. Both were taken to a bar. They then returned to Arjoon’s house and the police conducted a search (without warrant). Nothing was found. The officers left.

“A short while after the same police officers in the same marked police vehicle came back to my house,” Arjoon said. “When I came out of the house, Officer Bahadoor told me, ‘I would teach you something.’ I went outside to the vehicle and they put me in the van.”

Crookshan was also in the van and both were taken to the Penal Police Station.

“While I was in the vehicle on the way to the police station, Officer Bahadoor told me, ‘You playing you don’t want to talk I go learn you a lesson.’ Officer Bahadoor and Officer Jagroop (were) telling Crookshan to ask me where I put the things that I thief.” At the police station, Arjoon was taken to a room, where, according to him, the beating began.

“Officer Bahadoor started to ask me questions about where I put the things. I told him I did not know what he was talking about. Each time I answered Officer Bahadoor, I was hit a slap across my face. I was slapped about 15 to 20 times in my face.

“One time, while I was being questioned, Officer Jagroop hit me a slap across my face and hit me a jump kick and I fell over on the ground out of the chair. I did not know why the officers were beating me. I was crying when Jagroop was slapping me across my face.”

The three officers then proceeded to beat him.

“While I was on the ground, the officers were kicking me and cuffing me all over my body. The officers kicked me in my ribs, back and belly. They kicked me in my behind and my legs. The officers were wearing boots,” he said.

He continued, “The officers were beating me like an animal. While all of this was going on I was shouting to the officers that I did not know what they were talking about and they still continued to beat me. I was hit a number of times in my head and face. I could not count the amount of times.”

After an officer said, “I is Satan and I come to kill”, Arjoon tried to get up.

“I tried to get up but each time that I tried to get up the officers would beat me more and more and I would fall to the ground. Officer Jagroop was telling me while he was beating me, ‘Get up and take your licks.’”

This continued non-stop for about five minutes, the beatings then entered another phase.

“Officer Bahadoor went into a desk in the room and took out a piece of wood,” Arjoon said. “He told me to get up. This time when I got up he told me to bend over the desk that was in the room. I was frightened when I saw the officer with the piece of wood. When I bent over, the officer started to beat me on my behind and on the back on my legs with the piece of wood. I was feeling like my legs would break. I was telling the officer that I don’t know nothing but he continued beating me. The officer was getting on like a man possessed.”

He was struck about two dozen times.

“The officer hit me about 25 times with the piece of wood on my legs and bottom. I fell to the ground a number of times. Every time that I would get up, the officer would continue beating me,” Arjoon said. There was a momentary lull from the wood.

“After about five minutes of beating me with the piece of wood, Officer Bahadoor handed the piece of wood that he was beating me with to Officer Jagroop. Officer Jagroop then took the piece of wood and went in a corner of the room and started eating a sandwich.”

The other officers continued to beat him. “They were kicking and cuffing,” he said. “After Officer Jagroop had finished eating the sandwich, he came up to me with the piece of wood and started to beat me with the wood. He beat me with the piece of wood all over my body. He hit me about 15 strokes. I felt like each time he hit me with the piece of wood something would burst inside me. This officer was telling me over and over that he would teach me a lesson.”

The education was not yet over for Arjoon, who was reportedly an out-patient of the Psychiatric Unit of the San Fernando General Hospital at the time.

“When this officer had finished beating me, Officer Bahadoor went into one of the drawers and pulled out a gun. He put the gun to my head and he tell me, ‘You want to play crazy I would kill you here right now.’ He pulled the trigger and I bawl out for Jesus but the gun click and did not fire. The other officers were laughing,” he said. There was yet more to learn.

“Officer Bahadoor then went into the drawer of the desk and took out cable from the desk. Officer Bahadoor then ordered me to drop my pants and bend over the desk. I was so frightened that I took my pants and bend over the table. I was very ashamed to have to take off my pants in front of the other officers,” Arjoon said.

“Officer Bahadoor then took the cable and started to beat me with the cable on my bottom. Officer Bahadoor hit me about ten strokes across my bottom,” Arjoon deposed. “I fell to the ground a number of times. I thought the officer would kill me with licks the way he was beating me. The officer kept telling me that if I don’t want to talk he would make me talk.” The beatings ended five minutes after that.

“At this time, I could hardly stand up but could not sit down because of the pain. I was forced to sit down on the bench with my pants still off,” Arjoon said. He was told to pull up his pants and to bend over, once more. The beating with the cable then resumed. At one point, Crookshan was brought into the room and forced to cuff Arjoon in the face.

Arjoon was later dropped off in the night about a mile from his home. He walked home but was then taken to the San Fernando General Hospital soon after. A doctor there recorded injuries including: two ten centimetre contusions on the right and left buttocks, a six centimetre contusion on the lower back, soft tissue injuries. Photographs taken two days later, submitted to court, showed Arjoon appearing to have large dark bruises about these areas of his body.

“After I went home the pain did not stop,” Arjoon said. “I could not sleep and I could not lie down on my back. I was in real pain. I would also get real bad headaches after the beating. I remained in pain in my back and bottom for more than a week. I could not sleep or lie down. When I went to the bathroom there would be traces of blood.” He could not be intimate with his wife.

Arjoon claimed the officers returned to his home after the beating to intimidate him. “The officers visited my home on a number of occasions and threatened that if I went to a lawyer they would come and arrest me and lock me up.”

As I have pointed out many a time, even animals do not behave this way. In every situation above, the parties involved have expressed their true inner self.

The several more things that I wanted to comment upon, but this post is already long enough, so I will end here and get to those on another day.