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Can politicians ever be believed?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

In the hurly-burly environment of electoral politics does it mean that high public office must be achieved by any means necessary? Including spreading of false allegations and likewise, which have the effect of traumatising an entire country and damaging its international image?

These questions must now surely occupy the attention of all responsible citizens of T&T following the disclosure by search engine Google, that e-mails allegedly incriminating senior government ministers, including Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, were fake and do not exist.

I do not know what the position of most citizens was when Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, in moving a no-confidence motion in the Prime Minister on May 19, 2013, read into the Parliament record (Hansard), e-mails purporting to be making allegations against the PM and other ministers. The allegations are so serious I do not wish to repeat them at this time as they having been properly ventilated since that day. 

I was transfixed before my television taking in Rowley’s contribution. I was left emotionally perplexed and bewildered with a government that was so popularly voted into office on May 24, 2010. How could they have been engaged in that kind of conduct which was completely alien to our political landscape? 

So disturbed was I over this episode I wrote after Rowley’s presentation that if the charges were factual then the government had to resign, and if the so-called e-mails were false Rowley would have no choice but to resign his office and at least apologise to the nation.

The ding-dong battle between the opposition and government continued on its confrontational course up to last weekend when Google on the legal action of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, informed the AG and by extension the state, that the whole E-mailgate controversy was a complete fabrication. Google’s language was not couched in terms that the average layman could not understand. 

Although Rowley’s attacks were made under the cloak of parliamentary privilege one still expects that when political leaders speak in the Lower or Upper House it is imperative, even though they may not be in possession of all the pertinent facts, that care must be taken to be extremely judicious in verifying the accuracy of what they speak about. Did Rowley take the necessary precaution in this instance given the serious nature of the allegations he was making in the legislature? Against the highest holder of political office in the land?

He not only made the allegations in the parliament but repeated them in the pubic where parliamentary privilege does not reside. Is this the kind of responsibility the people should demand from people who are aspiring to hold high political office? Now that Google has vindicated the PM the AG and other ministers for any alleged wrong-doing, where do we go from here?

The question that must now be faced is who were the party or parties behind in this national shame; was Rowley duped into believing he was on solid ground, that he had hanged the government’s “jack?” Was this plot hatched at Balisier House and would Rowley do the proper thing and at least apologise to the nation?

Based on the comments from PNM functionaries that it does seem to be forthcoming it is amazing that the party’s Public Relations Officer Farris Al-Rawi had the gall to even think about saying government had planned the Google release to detract from the Senate debate which started in the Upper House on Tuesday, dealing with the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

Would you believe such nonsense from Al-Rawi as he sought to put the PNM’s spin on what is clearly a faux pas of such magnitude by the leader of his party? I looked straight into his face on the television and he was even smiling making that unbelievable comment. 

One of the long-term effects of this sorry affair is that the public may not want to believe anything politicians say in this place. If they could get away with making such potentially dangerous statements which has far-reaching national consequences, then heaven help us all.
If Rowley persists in standing his ground on this matter he, in my opinion, would do his credibility in the political arena a lot of damage.

I do not know what the AG intends to do and some lawyers have quoted the law which states that the Opposition Leader could face serious legal problems were the affected parties to decide to pursue their options. The bottom line at this time is that politicians, because of the trust reposed in them by the people, must adhere to sound leadership principles.


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