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T&T not ready to move on from Section 34
Two years ago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar encouraged the media and the national community to “Let’s move on” from the Reshmi Ramnarine affair. Just this week, Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), Satnarayan Maharaj (who has often articulated his support for the PM and her government), picked up the PM’s injunction to “move on.”
This time it is movement from the Section 34 scandal. They are both right: the country must advance beyond what are clearly unacceptable transgressions of those who hold power in one form or the other. However, what neither of them seems to understand is that moving on requires the satisfactory resolution of matters which are outstanding and pose serious challenges to easy acceptance of the collective mind of the society.
To this day, the Prime Minister and her Government are yet to offer a logical and believable rationale to explain how a low-level technical assistant could have been vaulted into the position of head of the major intelligence agency of the country; how she and her documents escaped the rigorous examination and scrutiny demanded of someone being considered for such a position; and who was or were responsible.
The firing or resignation of Ms Ramnarine explained nothing, and that is why it remains in the psyche of the nation as an unexplained appointment. In the instance of the Section 34 disaster, the Prime Minister offered the head of the politically expendable Justice Minister.
But with that came more confusion and questions surrounding the roles and responsibilities of the entire Cabinet, herself included, and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan in the premature and partial proclamation of Section 34. Once again, the explanations have been inadequate. How, therefore, can the Government and its supporters expect an informed and alert national community to “move on”?
Moving on requires that these incidents are adequately aired and explained and that if any laws or ethical standards are found to have been broken, those responsible are held to account. There are now many golden opportunities for the present administration to demonstrate the new politics and good governance promised to the electorate.
That means, instead of falling into the accustomed routine of accusations and denials, the focus must be on ensuring that there are severe consequences for all found guilty of corruption and other such offences.
Moving on from the debacles of the Reshmi affair, the Section 34 fiasco, the Clico and Hindu Credit Union financial meltdowns, the billion-dollar Piarco Airport corruption cases and more requires that the men and women elected to serve T&T function with the clear understanding that they must be accountable, responsible, fair and transparent in all their duties on behalf of the government and the people of this country.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, her ministers and those who would seek to apologise for the Government must understand that the country is not ready to “move on” until all the events which led to the proclamation of Section 34 are known and justice is enacted against those guilty of deception and other forms of corruption.
Moving on also requires that matters are resolved not only satisfactorily with the whole truth being revealed, but that resolution occurs without the frequent delays caused by political and legal manoeuvrings. This is the 21st century, an era of information, when governments are being required to govern on the basis of taking into consideration the views and desires of the population.
When the population is able to trust all its leaders and to have confidence that justice will be done, and sooner rather than later, then T&T will be able to move on.
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