The Opposition People’s National Movement trusts that new Integrity Commission chairman, retired judge Zainool Hosein, will be guided by propriety in matters pertaining to any conflict of interest.
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Citizens must bear the cross of shame
In the face of three ministerial scandals which have shaken Government in the past months, Presbyterian minister, Reverend Daniel Teelucksingh, says it is citizens who now have to bear the “cross of shame” for electing the People’s Partnership Government into office. During his Good Friday service yesterday, Teelucksingh, a former independent senator between 1992 to 2001, told his congregation at the St Charles Presbyterian Church, Chaguanas, that immorality among high-ranking public officers was running rampant in T&T.
“Oh, yes our moral standards have fallen so low, particularly by those who are holding public office,” Teelucksingh said. “Our sex scandals involving high-profile people in this country compares with France and anywhere else in the world, but you will tell me that we are in a global village now, so what? “It’s the cross of shame that we have to bear, shame and disgrace, because we have selected them, we put them in office and they then represent us.”
With the incidents involving former Ministry of the People Minister Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, who was fired for misbehaviour on a Caribbean Airlines flight, and Chandresh Sharma, who resigned after a former girlfriend accused him of assault, still fresh on the congregation’s mind, Teelucksingh said everyone aspiring to high office must set high standards.
Following the departure of Ramadharsingh and Sharma from her Cabinet, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the establishment of a code of conduct can help avoid distractions. Alluding to this, Teelucksingh described the PM’s statement as a “big joke,” saying that there should have been set ethical standards when ministers were entering their respective offices.
“The big joke about our sex scandals and immoralities that are running wild, especially in high places, is that they are searching for a code of conduct for people in public life. “A search is on for new ethical standards, a new ethical formula, but to parliamentarians and all holders of public office, why do we want to reinvent the wheel and who said our leaders and all citizens in high office have not heard of this morality code?”
Quoting from the bible, he said, “Do not commit murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not accuse anyone falsely, do not desire another man’s house, do not desire his wife, do not desire his place or his cattle or anything else that he owns. This is a moral standard that is good for Hindus, Muslims and Christians of every denomination.
“It is good for the man in the street and it is good for all who are saying, ‘we want an ethical formula to guide us.’ That is so sad, as if there was never an ethical formula for them when you placed your fingers in the voting ink.”
He compared the scandals to the 1963 John Profumo and Christine Keeler affair in England, which led to the eventual election defeat of the British conservative party in 1969. The scandal was a result of sexual impropriety between Profumo, the then Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan's government, and 19-year-old model Keeler. “Some of you, the older people will remember. Our immorality stories are compared with any one of those,” Teelucksingh said.