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Sandy vows to beat crime in T&T
National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy is not about to resign despite several calls by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley for him to step down. He made that clear in his contribution to debate on a private motion by Rowley in the House of Representatives yesterday. Rowley’s motion called on the House to condemn the actions of the Government over its handling of the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) which, without legal authority, tapped the phones of prominent citizens, including President George Maxwell Richards. The matter was brought to the attention of the public by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last November. The House subsequently approved legislation to legalise the operations of the agency.
Rowley made several allegations about Sandy’s involvement in the appointment of Reshmi Ramnarine as director of the agency last week. He said that was based on a newspaper report. “So today, in the context of what has played out here, in the context of what he has had to admit to, in the context of how he sits in the Cabinet, the Minister of National Security’s position is wholly untenable and he should resign,” Rowley stressed. “Because as long as he stays in that position, there would be absolutely no confidence in this country that the minister is in charge of the ministry.” “He must walk,” Rowley insisted.
“Give it to them, give it to them,” MP for San Fernando East Patrick Manning said while seated. But Sandy, in response, said Rowley was wrong about several of his claims.
Sandy said he never used the word “error” when questioned about Ramnarine’s appointment. He said: “Play back the tapes. Never! I never said who recommended the director. I never said to anyone that I was at any meeting. What I said was that it was a confidential matter. Check the tapes.” Sandy also dismissed a claim by Rowley that former director of the SIA, Nigel Clement, assumed the position after coming through the ranks. “Clement never came through the ranks,” he said to loud desk-thumping from Government MPs. Sandy also denied telling any reporter that he was unaware of the appointment of Ramnarine. “I never told any member of the press that I was not aware of the appointment, never,” he quickly added.
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh was heard telling Rowley later: “Don’t fight with a soldier, never fight with a soldier.” Sandy then quoted the infamous 2009 budget contribution by then Prime Minister Manning when he had asked Dr Rowley, ‘Where the money gone.’ In that contribution Manning was very critical of his then backbencher’s attitude, describing him as a raging bull. Sandy said he had been subjected to all sorts of criticisms from the Opposition, despite giving more service to Trinidad and Tobago than any of them, including Manning. Sandy said he had served T&T since 1966 and he recalled his roles as a military official in the 1970 Black Power uprising and the 1990 attempted coup.
He said he accepted the national security portfolio because “I feel I can make a difference in Trinidad and Tobago...I feel that I can go out there and cause my young brothers to stop killing each other.”
He added: “That is my aim and that is what I am going to do. And when people ask ‘you under pressure’ I say ‘no I am not under pressure.” Sandy said: “The burden is not mine and I really believe that.”
He said he continued to give “more than a hundred per cent.” Saying that he loved T&T, Sandy said when anyone was murdered in this country, he felt like it was his own son who had lost his life.
He claims that Opposition MPs seem to celebrate whenever there is a murder in T&T.
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