Kamla on PNM corruption …“Do as I say, but not as I do”

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Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar says Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley displays double standards when it comes to dealing with corruption within his Government and political party.

Persad-Bissessar issued the following media statement on Sunday:

“The Opposition notes with growing concern the rampant internal corruption that has reared its ugly head in the bosom of the Rowley PNM and it condemns the selective and convenient invocation of principles and ethics by the political leader and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley.

In recent times the population has witnessed scandal after scandal, confirming that corruption is deeply entrenched in the PNM’s political DNA.

MP Marlene McDonald is under investigation by the Police and Integrity Commission regarding her role in the alleged illicit financing of the Calabar Foundation run by her romantic partner.

MP Camille Robinson-Regis is under investigation over the alleged sudden repayment of her entire mortgage balance with a large sum of cash, the source of which remains a mystery.

Minister Rohan Sininan is the central figure in the “ferry-gate” fiasco that has led to the astonishing dismissal of PATT CEO Charmaine Lewis after her testimony before the JSC exposed his alleged role in this scandal that has crippled the Tobago economy, the hotel industry and the entire sister isle.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi is now under TWO criminal investigations as well as an investigation by the Integrity Commission regarding “Army-gate” where his children were pictured in possession of high powered automatic rifles owned by the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, and now, the alleged attempt to bribe process server Mark Adams to break into Opposition Senator Gerald Ramdeen’s law office to plant a bug and steal his laptop.

Senior PNM General Council Member Harry Ragoonanan is now under criminal investigation for alleged bribery, bid rigging and corruption in relation to the procurement of buses at the Public Transport Service Corporation.

While Prime Minister Rowley continues to pay lip service and spews glib political rhetoric about transparency in public life, his actions reveal a twisted logic that cannot withstand public scrutiny.

When allegations were made against Ministers in the PP government, Dr. Rowley’s position was crystal clear: the Minster should resign or the PM should remove the Minister until the investigation is complete and their name is cleared. This was his forceful political mantra while in Opposition. Incidentally, it was also the forceful political mantra of his then PRO Faris Al-Rawi.

Now as Prime Minister, Prime Minister Rowley has hypocritically changed his tune. His actions simply do not match his words. The Rowley PNM while in Opposition and more so in government is loyal to the adage “do as I say but not as I do”.

MP Marlene McDonald was fired as a Minister because she was under investigation by the Police and Integrity Commission. She was reinstated even though the investigation was not completed and, before her name could be cleared. She was then fired again after public outcry over of her alleged association with a reputed gangster.

Like MP McDonald, AG Al-Rawi is also the subject of investigations by the Police and the said Integrity Commission.

Like MP Marlene McDonald, he is also now allegedly associated with a person with a criminal record in what appears to be a sinister conspiracy to burglar and bug the office of an Opposition Senator. Under the Interception of Communications Act, the interception of private communications and the possession of devices capable of doing so without a warrant are criminal offences punishable by a jail term of up to seven (7) years.

It should be noted that AG Al-Rawi has not denied the alleged documented evidence of text message exchanges between himself and Mark Adams. He has not denied the very detailed allegations made against him.  He carefully sidesteps the allegation that his associate Netram Kowlessar was his co-conspirator and liaison with Mr Adams. He has instead opted to try to bury the specific issues raised in the flowery rhetoric of self-proclaimed innocence for which he is well known.

AG Al-Rawi cleverly attempts to pass Mr. Adams off as a “whistle-blower” whom he (Al-Rawi) says he referred to an Attorney, while conveniently neglecting to mention that this Attorney works in HIS Ministry, reports directly to him and is known to be his alleged alter-ego in the Ministry. It should be noted that the lawful course of action with respect to a whistle blower is to refer such person to the police, not to an attorney and, especially not one working in HIS Ministry and reporting to him.

This tactical spin-doctor routine is AG Al-Rawi’s modus operandi, after all, he has never accepted paternity of his own children who were photographed in alleged illegal possession of high powered arms and ammunition (note however he immediately accepted that the telephone number disclosed by MP Moonilal was his own). He has again opted to proclaim innocence in the face of damning evidence and is attempting to divert attention.

We call upon AG Al-Rawi to do the decent and honourable thing and tender his resignation forthwith and allow these investigations to be completed.

We also call upon Prime Minister Rowley to accept responsibility for his failed leadership and poor decision-making.

He must revive his forgotten principles of integrity and transparency in public life which dictated the PNM’s policy that a Minister who is the subject of a criminal investigation must resign or be removed unless and until their name is cleared. He must call for AG Al-Rawi’s resignation and, should the AG fail to do so, the Prime Minister must remove him as forthwith.

Prime Minister Rowley’s silence and inaction creates the impression that in the PNM some are more equal than others. What is so special about AG Faris Al-Rawi that he remains untouchable, whilst MP Marlene McDonald and Harry Ragoonanan bite the dust?

Yesterday, MP Stuart Young described the suspension of Ragoonanan as a “momentous day” for the PNM. It was indeed a “momentous day”, but not for the Rowley PNM.  It was a momentous day for the country as it demonstrated to each and every citizen the nepotism, favouritism and vindictiveness of the Rowley PNM.  As they do with their party so they will do with our country.”
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