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Due diligence a must before appointments
CORRECTION: The version of this editorial that first appeared on page A28 of the T&T Guardian on Thursday 31st January, 2013 wrongly identified the date on which Reshmi Ramnarine was appointed to a National Security ministry intelligence agency. In fact, the appointment occurred in January 2011. We apologise for the error.
Once again it appears an inappropriate appointment has been made to a very important public position. This commission of enquiry into the attempted coup of July 1990 by a band of armed thugs is an exercise of great importance to the history of T&T. As we all know, lost in the coup attempt were two dozen lives, and those killings were accompanied by the wanton destruction of property and an intrusion into the democracy of the country.
Moreover, this enquiry has to probe the alleged involvement by at least two prime ministers in the coup. It is a public enquiry that is therefore an investigation which should have been given the greatest attention to its formation.
From the investigative discoveries of this newspaper, commissioner Hafizool Mohammed does not possess valid qualifications, has made unfounded claims about his credentials and is thus unsuited to sitting on the enquiry. This is not only because he does not hold a doctoral degree from a well-established and accredited university, but also because his CV has many holes of dishonesty and lack of integrity to it.
Not only has he admitted that his doctoral degree is not of a high quality, as the university granting it is not accredited, but a prestigious military university in the US which Mr Mohammed claims to have attended has no record of his attendance. If there is need for further questions about the man is the fact that he used a deceased person, Sir Ellis Clarke, late president of T&T, as a referee.
As Sir Ellis’ son, Peter Clarke, has told this newspaper, using a dead man as your referee—and such a distinguished citizen, too—is simply not done.
But it does not end there. Another of Mr Mohammed’s referees, said by him to have been a former president of Turkey, also deceased, never existed in the position he was supposed to have filled. This is not a first time the country has had to deal with a situation in which a major public appointee has been discovered, post-appointment, to be unqualified for an important position.
Reshmi Ramnarine, an ordinary technical operator with a bogus claim to a university degree, was appointed head of the major intelligence agency under the National Security Ministry last year. The Integrity Commission was also plagued by at least one appointment, that of the now deceased Fr Henry Charles, where lack of proper procedure and background checks opened the door to the furore that eventually forced his resignation. Ethical concerns over appointments, processes and questions over members’ neutrality accounted for the departure of other commission members as well.
Is the country to believe the powers that be make appointments without due diligence checking on the individuals? It would also be interesting to find out which minister made the recommendation and whether it was sanctioned by the entire Cabinet. The question needs to be asked about what kind of process the Cabinet adopts before making such appointments—or is it that names are pulled out of a hat?
The news of Mr Mohammed’s attempt to deceive is also, of course, a major embarrassment to the commission. For politicians and those others always eager to knock the media, it would be instructive for them to note that like in the Reshmi matter, it was this newspaper, a media house, which looked below the surface to discover what appears to be a major fraud. Crucially, the Government has to now salvage the enquiry.
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