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Rowley, Ramesh agree: Coup commissioner another ‘Reshmi’ scandal
A senior member of Cabinet insisted that Dr Hafizool Ali Mohammed should be selected as a member of the commission of enquiry into the 1990 coup attempt. Mohammed disclosed to the Sunday Guardian last week that he obtained his doctorate of science degree (DSc) in international relations from Atlantic International University (AIU), which is described by various Web sites as a diploma mill.
The commission’s next public hearings are scheduled to start tomorrow. Engagement adviser to the Prime Minister Lisa Ghany said yesterday that at this point she could not say exactly who had been responsible for vetting Mohammed’s curriculum vitae. “I need to speak to some members of Cabinet who were involved in the appointment before I can make a comment. I am investigating this matter,” Ghany said.
Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed could not be reached for comment yesterday. But Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday expressed outrage, saying that time and time again the actions of Government continued to come into question. The commissioners of an enquiry are chosen by Cabinet.
Rowley said there seemed to be a trend under the People’s Partnership Government that people were being hired in various capacities because they were either the friends or family members of the government. “It is not surprising the way the government continues to operate. They are hiring family and friends to serve in top positions. ”How could a commissioner appointed to serve on an enquiry be exposed in a very embarrassing way, and still has a right to adjudicate on people?
“I have come to the conclusion that statements by government ministers are of no consequence. I do not expect them to do anything else than to defend their position,” Rowley said. Noting that a similar situation occurred with the former director of the Strategic Services Agency Reshmi Ramnarine and former T&T Electricity Commission chairman Omar Khan, Rowley said: “People are resenting the type of governance that they are getting. There are several people serving on boards with questionable qualifications.
“Imagine, someone has been appointed on a commission of enquiry to examine the conduct of others, and no one did the proper checking. If your conduct is questionable, you cannot examine my conduct.” Telephone calls to Mohammed went unanswered yesterday.
Also commenting on the development yesterday was former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, who said Cabinet had to take full responsibility for the “embarrassing situation.” “Cabinet has a responsibility to ensure that when someone is selected to serve on a commission of enquiry that [they are] are properly vetted, and for the Cabinet to chose someone with a fake doctorate is reckless and negligent.
“It is another incident of a Reshmi Ramnarine.” Maharaj said the situation showed the government was not doing the proper checks on people selected to serve. “This reflects badly on both the Prime Minister and the Attorney General,” Maharaj said.
Ramlogan, when contacted yesterday, said he had no comment.
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