You are here
Warner: Govt will not fall because of Section 34
National Security Minister Jack Warner is going to work out of crime-prone Laventille from November. Saying that the Government’s detractors are smelling blood and are coming after the PP regime, Warner made it clear you cannot save Laventille by running from the district.
Q: Mr Warner, of all the blunders the PP administration has committed is Section 34 the most damaging to its credibility?
A: (Early Thursday morning at his Abercombry Street, Port-of-Spain, office) I don’t know if you would call it a blunder and I don’t know if you would call it a PP blunder. I will call it a genuine error...
Q: On whose part?
On the part of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, and bear in mind both houses of Parliament passed this Act.
Q : Isn’t that the spin the Government has been relying on to get itself out of this predicament?
It is not a spin. It is a fact.
Q : A nd you dispute that the bone of contention is the alleged secret proclamation of this particular clause?
I will not say secretly; it came through the Cabinet and was approved on the basis that it would expedite the process of bringing those 40,000 people who have been incarcerated for years to trial and have their matters determined one way or the other. That was not a secret.
Q: But isn’t the Opposition claiming the Government promised it would not proclaim the legislation until the entire infrastructure was put in place to facilitate implementation of the measure?
That is the most foolish escape that Rowley and they are putting forward. If even everything was put in place the section would have still been there and the legislation would have been proclaimed on January 2, 2013. Would it have made the section better? So what is the difference?
Q: Mr Warner, the matter has also raised the question of trust that the people placed in the PP administration when it gave the party an overwhelming mandate in 2010? Is this trust disappearing?
Mr Raphael, that is the spin they are putting on. The fact is when the Government realised the error we readily owned up and moved to correct it.
Q: Why was it necessary for the leader of the COP and Independent Senator Helen Drayton to make public apologies?
As an independent senator she is within her right to apologise because they are in the Parliament and are not supposed to be fish nor fowl, and I believe that as independent senators she probably realised that they ought to have taken a more incisive look at the proposed legislation as a whole. In the case of the COP, the least I say about Mr Ramadhar the better.
Q: How could you speak so disparagingly about a member of the coalition government?
It is not disparaging. The fact is I don’t want to say yea or nay to what Mr Ramadhar is saying. I would make one comment however. I have read where he has said that the amendment did not come back to the LRC (Law Reform Commission). Amendments in the House do not go back to the LRC. That is not the remit of the LRC, so therefore to say they did not go back to that body is wrong and misleading.
Q: Mr minister, you have also been criticised for allegedly criticising the President.
I have absolutely no comment to make on that except to say that I have the greatest respect for the office of the President. No more on that.
Q:Getting back to Section 34, this doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. If an election is called tomorrow do you believe the PP could survive that?
This Government will not fall or lose an election based on Section 34, because we did the responsible thing of going back to the Parliament and correcting the error. In my humble view, the two major issues in this country at this time are crime and health.
We have to deal with those critical issues as well as the infrastructure of the country. Once we deal with those then I have no other problem.
Q: Mr Warner, the Law Association and many other groups have all criticised the events surrounding Clause 34...
And they have all spoken after the fact. Everybody is talking after the fact. And I want to say to you guys, people are taking ownership of this so-called revelation. This was a revelation not of the Opposition, not of the different institutions. This was a revelation of the media.
And because people think this is a popular thing to do everybody is jumping on the bandwagon. I want to commend the media for the role you have played in this. And all of those Johnnies-come-lately who are espousing a false sense of integrity and accusing us of lacking integrity, they believe they are smelling blood and are coming after us.
Q: What’s wrong about that?
I am telling you this Government will not fall or lose an election because of Section 34.
Q: Dr Rowley?
Dr Rowley is the biggest embarrassment within the PNM and that party would never again straddle the corridor of office under him. He could rant and rave as much as he wants, he is a walking disaster and I think Mr Manning’s description of him as a raging bull is an understatement. He is a raging elephant, right? And I go further to say that nothing he has done so far could convince anyone that he is fit for governance, or more so as prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago. He is only trying to prostitute a situation.
Q: Why are you so bitter against Dr Rowley and is that really called for?
Clevon, I want to bet at this time he would never become prime minister of this country. He has alienated himself from a major ethnic group in Trinidad and Tobago...East Indians. He doesn’t have a single Hindu on the executive of the party, unlike the UNC which is fully representative of the ethnic groups in our beloved country.
Q: Justice Minister Herbert Volney is saying some members of the Cabinet are out to get him...are you one of those?
I don’t know what he is talking about but surely I am not one of those out to get him as he has alleged. We are still good friends and in any event I have nothing against him. He is part of the Cabinet and we had to take collective responsibility for what was done.
Q: The calls to have him removed from the Cabinet?
That is the decision of the Prime Minister. We all are human beings and we do make errors, and if Mr Volney made an error then of course there is a price to be paid.
Q: Mr Warner, I don’t know if you listen to the radio stations, particularly the call in programmes...
(Sharply interjecting) I don’t. I have people who do so on my behalf and would flag me on certain statements that are made.
Q: Ok. I have been hearing people purporting to be supporters of the PP saying they are terribly embarrassed and hurt over this Section 34 bacchanal?
(Taking off his glasses and resting them on the table) I don’t know how you could truly identify PP supporters based on calls to radio stations. Clevon, a couple months ago George “Umballa” Joseph had a guy on his programme speaking like Jack Warner...on Robert Amar radio station. I called Amar and complained about it...that “Umbala” had a guy talking like me and Joseph was saying things like “Yes, Mr Minister" and so on. If I wasn’t in my house I would swear I was in the studio with him. I called Amar and threatened to call the police and the programme was stopped. So you don’t understand the depths some people would go in pursuit of their political agendas.
Q: Mr Warner, let’s concentrate now briefly on your ministerial portfolio...
Q: I see the Prime Minister has ventured into Laventille?
Yes. And when last did any prime minister went to Laventille and meet the people? Laventille has consistently returned the PNM to office and the PNM has consistently treated these people with contempt, which is why the area is so underdeveloped even today.
Q: Why did she do it?
She did it to acknowledge the fact that the people of Laventille have decided that the way of life of the past is not the answer to their situation. She also symbolically joined with them to say that the time for peace is now. For the past 11 days not a single shot has been fired in Laventille.
Q: You know whenever previous ministers of national security made that kind of statement the bandits routinely took out their victims?
Yeah. But you know something, I am a different minister of National Security. And let me tell you this Clevon, parts of my ministry will be moving to Laventille in a month’s time. I cannot ask people to live in Laventille and I as a minister does not have a physical presence in the district.
I am opening an arm of the ministry at Beverly Hills and therefore, I would be showing people that Laventille is not what some people might think. The time has come for us to have a branch of a bank in Laventille. We have to give Laventille the respect it deserves. We cannot save Laventille by running from Laventille; we have to save Laventille by going to Laventille. I would be working from there at least one day every week and this would be demonstrating to the people that I am not asking people to do what I am not prepared to do myself.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.