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Voices of convenience

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Accusations of sexual harassment have been rife with the present Rowley-led PNM Government. Information coming to the public’s attention through the media, suggested that the former Minister of Sport, Darryl Smith was somehow preoccupied (partying with staff in Tobago and pictures featuring him hugging ladies). Eventually it was reported that there was a sexual harassment claim and/or wrongful dismissal claim in which allegations of sexual harassment featured.

All of T&T knew of these matters save and except for the Prime Minister Dr Rowley. Apparently the entire country read the newspapers except the Members of the Cabinet. Similarly, everyone knows that when you travel abroad your phone attracts roaming charges save and except certain ministers of this Government.

Anyways, PM Rowley expressed confidence in the entire Cabinet team and shortly thereafter announced a reshuffle of those said Cabinet Ministers.

Lo and behold! The following day, the Minister of Sport was fired. Whereas the Prime Minister and his Attorney General like to talk down to the media and the rest of us, they have been conspicuously silent in recent times when they should and ought to have been addressing the situation frontally. I think local parlance refers to this kind of situation as “total radio silence.”

At this time, we must ask why is the public not aware of the so-called “new information” which came to the Prime Minister’s attention that resulted in the firing of the former Minister of Sport within a day? Is it that the PM or one of his Cabinet members read the newspapers?

Running a country is serious business and needs competent and incorrupt people to do so. To begin to believe that such people are in fact running the country, shouldn’t the public be informed as to why the PM acted the way he did? Wouldn’t this allow the public to know what standards he is holding his Cabinet ministers to and by extension, the Government?

In providing such information, wouldn’t the country also be aware of the Government’s stand, if any, on sexual misconduct/harassment? How else can we repose any confidence in those who are at the helm?

What is there for the population to see in the Government? That in a previous incarnation there was a Minister who held a “10 days wok” (remember Knowlson Gift) whose record was toppled by Marlene McDonald’s three-day ministerial appointment and now beaten by Darryl Smith’s less than 24-hour appointment?

Who is to say that Minister Marlene Mc Donald is not consoling Darryl Smith at this very moment. She is probably letting him know that there is hope of his return having regard to her personal experience of being reappointed twice!

And for those who can be aptly labelled as voices of convenience, I ask, why do you commend the Prime Minister for his continuous inaction and belated action in firing the former Sport Minister? There has been sufficient prior warning signs warranting that action ought to have been taken long ago.

It is a voice of convenience to say that you settled a claim involving sexual harassment allegations utilising tax-payers dollars and then say that a non-disclosure clause prevents the public from knowing the details. The country simply cannot continue along this path.

Apart from the Darryl Smith fiasco, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley must deal with the conflicting stories emanating from Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon’s legal matter in the United States of America.

Whereas Dillon created the impression that there was an amicable settlement and that “The record of the proceedings be sealed and restricted,” the niece of Neville Piper, Esther Nicholls has spoken out and contradicted many of the statements made by Dillon.

According to Esther Nicholls, Dillon was ordered to repay US$5,000 plus another repayment of US$10,000. He is also to return the condominium deed to Piper and his attorney Ernest Wilson was ordered “to relinquish assets and documents relating to Piper.”

The writing is on the wall for the party in power. But having regard to our laws, elections are not likely to be called until it is constitutionally due. What this means is that there is a great likelihood that crime will continue unabated, the economy will crash, corruption in government will increase while daily bulletins will be published about the voyage from China of the Tobago hope, the Galleons Passage.

All this while the ordinary simple folks like you and me continue to suffer painfully.


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