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Smothering flames of retaliatory politics

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A critical examination of the recently held contentious No Confidence Motion in the stewardship of the Prime Minister and her government may suggest to a certain degree an unwillingness to be reasonable and forthright with many of the questionable decisions adopted during the course of its 22 months in governance. Even though the People’s Partnership (PP) made both sound and perplexing decisions, justifiable answers to pertinent questions of governance would have engendered public confidence and fostered good will.


On the contrary, appearing to be stung to madness by the No Confidence Motion, some PP officials gave vent to their feelings. From uncontrollable irritation, to bursts of vehement rage, expressions of revenge, hurling invectives to throwing dirt, whilst studiously avoiding the needful. In the process, the PP Government fashioned its response in terms of “retaliatory and accusatory politics,” blaming the PNM’s administration for all the ills in the country. In so doing, it may have made a mockery of the sanctity of Parliament designed for the probing examination, conduct and responsibility of the nation’s affairs entrusted to the Government by the electorate.


Amidst the smothering flames of retaliatory politics, the Honourable Minister of Works sensitised the nation and the coalition as to his powerful “engineering” influence as a mover and shaker of UNC politics. Minister Warner’s statements such as “an investment in Kamla” and “’till death do us part,” and the orchestrated removal of Rambachan as Mayor must be of concern to many in the UNC. Inevitably, it does appear that if Minister Warner continues to receive shoddy treatment, some even in the UNC may have to part before they get their political death. Suggestively, given his tenacity of purpose, Minister Warner is not going to roll over and die, but is certainly prepared to upgrade his political stocks and credibility, and no one is going to jeopardise his investment.


The Reshmi factor
A thorough understanding of national security in the post 9/11 international security environment would have recognised the need for intelligence and security strategies that promote national unity, reflecting our constitutional and democratic values, as well as providing the arsenal of quality intelligence to detect and deter transnational organised crimes (TOC). Additionally, given the adverse impact of TOCs on our democracy, a more nuanced and rigorous sense of developing meaningful and effective intelligence in combating these activities will be required.



How Reshmi Ramnarine’s former ascension as director of the SSA factored in this equation is yet to be answered. Reshmi’s resignation from the position did not heal the wound of alleged impropriety and gross misconduct in national security, but instead opened a can of worms into the modus operandi of national security. Wide ranging factors such as the legitimacy of the appointment, due process, alleged political interference, transparency, public accountability, the alleged cover-up behind the falsifying and misrepresentation of educational credentials to gain acceptance, and endorsement became the subject of intense debate.  


The Honourable Prime Minister consistently uses the phrase: “I am advised.”  The automatic question that follows is who advised her on Reshmi’s selection? Significantly, at whose request was this recommendation made? How could the deputy director of SSA Julie Browne recommend a junior without authenticating the validity of her qualifications?



What type of professional security intelligence is this? Had not these disclosures come to the public domain via the media, no one knows for certain what could have been happening with our security apparatus. Furthermore, the matter is severely compounded when the entire Cabinet was indicted in this security intelligence fiasco as it functions on the premise of collective responsibility.


Embarrassment and humiliation encapsulated the entire National Security Council, the Honorable Minister of National Security Brigadier John Sandy, Foreign Affairs Minister Surujrattan Rambachan, and Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, all of whom initially advocated on behalf of Reshmi’s appointment. That must have been an insult to their intelligence when UWI records could not substantiate Reshmi’s alleged educational attainments.



For this imprudent decision in the name of “new politics “and “change,” the entire Cabinet should have resigned. To date, the Government is yet to answer on such a serious national security matter that involves regional and international co-operation.



Since the National Security Council (NSC) comprises close to 15 members with many trained lawyers, is it not passing strange that an entire NSC could peruse a CV, and no one saw any documentation to satisfy such a high level security appointment? Could it be that this appointment, designed for a particular purpose, backfired in the PP’s face after media disclosure?



Early in the reins of governance, the PM made these recorded statements: “I will not betray you”, “Serve the people.”  In light of this appalling national security fiasco, why should the public have absolute and implicit confidence in the PP Government?  Suffice to state, the “Let’s move on,” “garlic sauce spreading syndrome” is not a substitute for a legitimate and justifiable response to national security, and is certainly injurious and inimical to the democratic pillars of transparency, accountability, integrity in public life and rule of law.



A matter as serious as intelligence and national security that is vital to the nation’s domestic and international interests requires a different approach to recruitment. The Intelligence director should be examined by a board comprising Cabinet officials, Opposition members and Independent Senators.


Continues next week...


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