During the attack on the Red House in the 1990 insurrection, police officers on the outside refused to take orders from then permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Ray Fernandez. "Who the hell is you? Robinson better off dead!" officers were heard telling Fernandez on a walkie talkie. At the time, parliamentarians, including then prime minister Arthur NR Robinson, who was shot, were being held hostage by armed Jamaat al Muslimeen insurgents in the Red House. This information was revealed to the commission of enquiry into the July 27,1990, attempted takeover of the country, by former NAR government minister and Red House hostage, Raymond Pallackdharrysingh at the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday.
"We never had any hope that the (protective) forces would try to save the hostages," Pallackdharrysingh told the commission. "I think the police had no sympathy for us." He said he remembered then minister, Joseph Toney, giving this message: "This is a very dangerous situation. If you get out alive, please tell my wife the insurance policy is in the trunk of my care. Make use of it." Pallackdharrysingh said then army commander, Joe Theodore, had the T&T Regiment gradually take over from the police until they had complete control. He further disclosed that, for several months preceding the attempted coup, there were rumours on the grapevine that guns were coming into T&T and that Jamaat al Muslimeen members were training in remote parts of the country. "How did they really succeed?" Pallackdharrysingh, who joined the UNC after he was fired from the NAR government by Robinson, asked. "There must have been a lapse in security," he said, answering his own question.
He said Robinson sent for him one day after he had expelled Basdeo Panday, Kelvin Ramnath, Trevor Sudama and John Humphrey from the Government. "I told him it was better to seek reconciliation, that if he fired them, the Government would fall," Pallackdharrysingh said. "I could sense the annoyance on his face and he told me the meeting was over." Pallackdharrysingh said he later heard that a fifth parliamentarian was to be fired and read in the newspaper that it was him. Commission chairman, Sir David Simmons, said Pallackdharrysingh's evidence was the kind the commission was looking for.
He will return to give evidence at a date to be fixed.