By LARA PICKFORD-GORDON
There have been calls (vociferous, persistent, bitter and biting) for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to take action and remove Minister of National Security Jack Warner from his portfolio. She should ask him to step aside until a determination is made.
My question is—a determination of what?
There were people who were in a tizzy after the Reuters report came out saying that Warner’s son Darayan was a “cooperating witness” in an investigation.
That tit bit it seems was all the ammunition needed to resume the “Warner must go” campaign.
The Reuters report by Mark Hosenball quoted unnamed US law enforcement sources (of course they could not go on record with an investigation that was ongoing) who declined to say “who MIGHT be charged, if anybody, or when.”
The same report went on to say that the scope of the investigation was NOT CLEAR (this is my capitalising) and among the matters UNDER SCUTINY were two previously reported allegations involving Warner.
The report did not even suggest what these were but refers to Chuck Blazer and an offshore account he has. We read that the Internal Revenue Service was part of the investigation examining “POTENTIAL” violations of US tax laws.
The same report spoke of Warner’s past involvement in football—as head of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Foodtball) and vice-president of FIFA. “He has not been charged with any wrongdoing,” Reuters said.
I have to ask, should the PM strip Warner of his portfolio based on the Reuters report?
There are people who think Warner should be removed or step aside until the allegations are cleared up except we don’t know who said what and or if charges have been laid against anyone. I realise that there are people who have an intense dislike for Warner and maybe they have good reason but this should not blind anyone to the fact that there must be justice. Also, the PM has to be cautious because whatever some people feel about Warner, he is the party Chairman and has supporters and clout within the United National Congress.
It is curious how people like to talk about the rule of law and due process yet will lobby for someone to be fired without a proper case being made out yet.
I ended up in lively discussion with some persons who were of the view that Warner should be removed. They referred to the US where public officials resigned if there is any hint of impropriety. I am aware sex scandals involving married politicians and revelations of children outside their marriage have led to people bowing out of election races or resigning. There have been cases in which people resigned due to scandals but they also ended up in court facing prosecution such as former Democractic representative for Illinois Jessie Jackson Jr who was charged with felony fraud in connection with the misuse of campaign funds.
In the US people do not just resign because they are guilty of anything, they may also resign to avoid further publicity and media or investigators delving into their affairs. We should not compare TT and the US because these are two very different societies and we do not have a culture or system to protect whistleblowers.
We had Gene Miles decades ago who spoke out about the “gas station racket” and she lost her job and was victimised and died a martyr. In TT we have more secret keepers and plenty talkers but no one is willing to give evidence of anything. Many people like to talk and talk but you can’t take ole talk and mauvis langue to the court house for cross-examination.
Under the PNM Franklin Khan resigned as Minister of Works and Transport and Eric Williams resigned as Energy Minister after allegations were made by Dansam Dhansook. It was Persad-Bissessar, as MP for Siparia who on April 27, 20005, read into the Hansard of the House of Representatives a letter Dhansook wrote to Manning claiming bribes were paid to ministers. The matters ended up in court, the allegations were not proven and Dhansook apologised years later for lying.
Over the years there have been various stories circulating about Warner but in the case of the latest news, until we have more facts and there is something that the PM can act on, I wish people would stop being ridiculous.