Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Where the Truth may Lie...

There's an old African saying - “When elephants fight it is the grass that suffers...”

Last Sunday we were treated to the ignobility of an allegation made against two important and senior public office holders, one in the person of the Attorney General of the Republic who a newspaper article accuses of attempting to bribe the current Police Complaints Authority Director with the offer of the job last year, with a request that, if proven true, also attempted to pervert the course of justice and was a clear example of misbehavior in public office.

Since that publication we have had the Minister of Legal Affairs and Political Leader of the second largest political organization that makes up the People's Partnership Government publicly call for a clearing of the air on the matter so as to preserve the sanctity of both offices, with the AG responding by rubbshing the article, and the PCA Director retreating behind sound bytes, posturing and an almost admonition to the Legal Affairs Minister that while the PCA did fall under his line of Ministerial oversight, it was in fact an independent body not answerable to the Minister.

Which brings us to where we are today.

With regards to the Attorney General, to the average citizen this matter only underscores the distrust with which he is widely is held, compounded by his penchant for arrogant outbursts and schoolboy styled taunting of those with whom he disagrees, it may well be the straw that breaks the camel's back where his involvement in government is concerned. There is no way any seasoned or informed political observer can envisage a UNC or PPG campaign that includes Anand Ramlogan achieving victory at the polls, with the assumptions raging from sure defeat to too close to call. Over the days that followed the media accusation, public discontent went from furious to dark in quick time, and in a series of snapshot polls conducted on Breaking News  (one of the largest Trinidad & Tobago current affairs social media pages), when asked of over twelve thousand people if they had the opportunity to fire one member of Government who would that person be, a resounding ninety percent voted for Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. Keep in mind that this is the same twelve thousand people who, the very next day when asked the same question of the opposition, almost a similar figure voted to fire his (Ramlogan's) partner in continuous public squabble, the leader of the opposition Keith Rowley, so the question of any partisan bias does not arise.

Beyond that and with regards to the Director of the Police Complaints Authority who is coming across by his public statements as more willing to play needless politics with a nasty allegation than with setting the public mind at ease, he needs to be clued to that fact that most people believe that some level of the allegation to be true, and that he is in fact somehow compromised as is demonstrated by his silence on the matter and unwillingness to cooperate with a respectful request that he so do.

In response, other activist groups have already begun calling for the heads of both the PCA Director and the AG, and whether or not the incident as reported did in fact occur the public mind seems to be already made up where these two gentlemen are concerned. What surprised me was Mr. David West's refusal, which was foolish when one considers that initially he had nothing to lose. His responding to the allegations that they did occur would have cemented the Attorney General's fate deep into an already heightened election period, his saying that the story was a complete fabrication would have shown him to be a statesman and given the public relief that at least one of these damning allegations were proven false. Now, by his posturing he has tainted himself, and his insistence that the accusations are in his name only and does not affect the PCA could not be more wrong. The fact that his achieving the position is alleged to have been conditional on his performing certain acts already brings the office he holds into disrepute, and his continuing on in that office without seeking to protect it as only he could have further erodes public confidence in the institution.

To him it may have been an irresistible opportunity to rub a nemesis' nose in it for treatment meted out to him at an earlier time, but even he must now be counting the high cost of that decision.

Walter Cronkite is noted to have said that "To seek truth one must first get both sides of a story," and that should be our main objective here.

To my mind and insofar as Mr. West is unwilling to assist in the clearing up of this sordid matter, they should both be made to demit office and an investigation launched into the veracity of the allegations. The President of the Republic should be called upon  to discontinue Mr. David West as Director of the Police Complaints Authority with immediate effect, and the Prime Minister of the Republic needs to act with equal alacrity and remove Anand Ramlogan as Attorney General effective immediately, with the objective being aside and apart from personalities and politics, to restore public confidence in both Offices.

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