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Is Volney alone truly responsible?
In a carefully worded and diplomatic script, the Honourable Prime Minister (PM) Kamla Persad-Bissessar addressed the nation concerning the partial implementation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act. Perhaps recognising as never before how quickly the people of this country can be mobilised into action for justice, and not to be taken for granted, her Government’s political survival necessitated decisive action.
Furthermore, additional public pressure applied by civil and business sectors as well as non-governmental organisations combined with relevant, justifiable and constructive criticisms from the Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions rendered mute the “Let’s move on” policy doctrine adopted by some of her Cabinet children.
The “Let’s move on” policy doctrine coined after the media’s thorough investigation of former SSA head, Reshmi Ramnarine should have at least taught this administration very serious lessons on governance. Evidently, very plausible arguments and unanswered questions in Parliament relative to the “covert operation and implementation” of Section 34 aroused the public’s demand for answers.
Yes, the forces of civil society placed an unswerving demand on the PP Government to either dismiss those responsible from Cabinet or seek a fresh mandate by calling general elections. The question remains whether the PM in recognising the gravity of the situation, responded to the public outcry from civil society.
Volney the vulnerable
Such a vital address was necessary to restore some much needed public confidence, and to deal expeditiously with the errant former Justice minister, Herbert Volney. The honourable PM indicated to the nation that Volney was solely culpable for this misbehaviour in public office.
As a matter of fact, she outlined that Volney’s “material misrepresentation and individual ministerial responsibility” impacted adversely on the entire administration. In this respect, she was not going to shirk her responsibility of ensuring that good governance prevails.
She subsequently called on the acting President to revoke Volney’s appointment. Now, this revocation of appointment gives Volney more time to diligently attend to his constituents, as well as earning a partial scholarship at the University of Reflective Meditation, St Joseph campus.
On the other hand, a large segment of the citizenry does not believe that Volney alone is to be held accountable. Furthermore, critics believe that Volney, the vulnerable, became the fall guy for the entire administration. Great public uncertainty still abound in the public minds as to who was responsible for superintending the final product before taking it to the President for proclamation? Did Volney of his own accord side step the “legal brains” in the Cabinet to perform this unilateral covert act?
Was it individual ministerial responsibility or collective Cabinet responsibility at stake? How does a former judge who is so accustomed dealing with the rule of law, evidence and making decisions, suddenly decide to act ultra vires the collective Cabinet responsibility policy? Is Volney alone truly culpable, or is he easily dispensable in the political pecking order? Did his previous critical public comments on some of his Cabinet colleagues open a can of worms and contribute to his dismissal?
Volney’s questionable statements
Prior to his dismissal, Volney apparently fired some missiles at his Cabinet colleagues. These missiles centered on the following statements. As reported in the T&T Guardian: “Cabinet colleagues are out to get him”; “I am not a money-in-bag minister”; and “I do not take five and ten per cent cutbacks on legal fees.” These statements do suggest that perhaps corruption, bribes, kickbacks and money laundering are alive and progressive within this administration.
Appearing as if to concur with Volney’s assertions, a Sunday Guardian investigation revealed that the Financial Intelligence Unit was monitoring a government official who is purchasing properties in cash whilst creating dummy companies. Will the PM also investigate this to protect her Government’s integrity?
Admittedly, Volney’s statements may be indicting the entire Cabinet as this virus of greed and the abuse of power may have compromised and contaminated the process of meaningful and effective governance. As a matter of fact, such activities has placed national security on trial. Importantly, are there any Cabinet ministers and senior government officials who can declare that they have never taken nor solicited a bribe or received kickbacks?
Has the Integrity Commission taken notice of the assets and properties of Cabinet ministers prior to entering government and what they are today? And has the FIU been monitoring the legally created dummy companies as fronts? Has the private banking sector, legal and real estate fraternity been in full co-operation with these agencies?
COP-Cowardice of Prakash?
Prakash Ramadhar may be nationally challenged to demonstrate courage and fierce determination of principled leadership. This may come with time. However, in light of the Volney factor, it may be prudent to refresh his legalistic memory of what factors he contemplated at the National Security Council, before he initially advanced the candidacy of Reshmi.
Admittedly, that vetting process was devoid of authentic and reliable evidence. Along with Brigadier Sandy and Minister Rambachan, they misled the entire nation, damaged national security and embarrassed the UWI. Thus, the question remains: “is Prakash satisfied that only Volney was culpable?”
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