It is hard to escape the feeling that Trinidad and Tobago is being run by a bunch of amateurs so blinded by political ambition that they can no longer distinguish right from wrong and decency from indecency.
The Nelson quagmire not only threatens to engulf the Rowley administration but to drag the country’s reputation through the mud. There are no heroes or good guys here. All are tarnished in a deal of mutually-assured destruction. In the unfolding tragi-comedy, Minister Stuart speaks with bold authority, declaring that “It can never be a breach of any proper legal agreement, or law, to provide evidence to a legitimate law enforcement agency.” And yet, the Government committed itself to the exact opposite in promising Vincent Nelson not to disclose its indemnity agreement to “any criminal/investigatory and/or prosecuting authority, tax enforcement authority and/or regulatory and/or disciplinary authority outside the territory of Trinidad and Tobago”.
Perhaps he is counting on the caveat “subject to the Attorney General’s duty to comply with all laws and statutory enactments”, but then why promise the unpromised-able?
In his social media post yesterday, Minister Young noted that no report on this matter has so far made reference to the State’s defence denying Nelson’s claims. Good point. We therefore encourage him to rectify that omission by having the Government release its defence for the benefit of a public anxiously awaiting its side of the story. For, make no mistake about it, regardless of who wins this case, assuming it ever makes it to a full hearing, the one guaranteed loser will be Trinidad and Tobago with the price borne by its people.
No matter how confident it might feel about its defence, the responsibility for the mismanagement leading to the collapse of the corruption case against former AG Anand Ramlogan and attorney Gerald Ramdeen falls squarely on the Government. If there is any value to this fiasco it is that its public eruption has laid bare the ugly innards of the Government’s dealings covered up by the veneer of legal polish.
In releasing its defence to Nelson’s lawsuit the Government must also provide a financial account of the public funds expended on this case, including the pay-off to Nelson of fees owed by the previous government in securing his agreement to testify against Ramlogan and Ramdeen. If one were to believe Nelson’s statement of claim, the Government negotiated its deal with him on the basis of an open chequebook. Yet, the Rowley administration, moreso than any other, has routinely condemned private citizens, non-government bodies and the Opposition for initiating legal challenges against the State on the grounds that the Government is made to waste scarce public funds in having to defend itself in those matters.
In a matter that involves the use and abuse of public funds and has serious implications for the justice system and the international reputation of Trinidad and Tobago, the public requires much more from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley than old talk and bluster about “manima”. He also cannot distance himself from actions taken in the name of his Government in which the buck stops with him.
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