THE EDITOR: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley disrespected the country’s war veterans at the Remembrance Day service at Memorial Park, Port of Spain over the weekend.
His decision to have his wife Sharon Rowley represent him at the Memorial Day celebrations over the weekend was, to say the least, highly unusual.
Mrs Rowley is not an official of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
She is neither elected nor holds an official position in the Administration and should not perform any function deputising for her husband, especially at such an event requiring the presence of the Prime Minister himself or another Government official like the Minister of National Security, Commissioner of Police or other senior official of the Government connected in some way with the occasion.
The spouse of the Prime Minister can be invited to officiate at certain events as the wife of the Prime Minister; however in the history of this country there has never been an instance when the sitting Prime Minister failed to honor the lives of persons who died serving their country.
This was not a social or some other type of community event where a spontaneous decision like that could be made to send the Prime Minister’s wife to perform such an official role.
Dr Rowley was not invited to the Memorial Day Ceremony as citizen Keith Rowley but rather as the Head of Government. If he could not attend then he should have sent proper representation from his Administration, not his wife.
A retired senior diplomat was aghast that this even took place.
He said that proper protocol requires the relevant Government department to handle the official arrangements for such events and went on to state that he was confident that no senior Chief of Protocol will ever conceive of inviting the Prime Minister’s wife to perform such a role. The Permanent Secretary and other officials of the Ministry of National Security would also not do that. It means therefore that the Prime Minister himself or others around him could have made that decision, which could lead to chaos in the country as far as proper protocol is concerned.
The highly respected diplomat noted that every country could decide on what protocol it wishes to follow and protocol is also based on tradition and precedent. This is the first time but it could happen again.
The Prime Minister has unwittingly made his wife a target for his critics. His highly ill-conceived decision will now have more intense scrutiny placed on his wife.