The much-belated and half-hearted apology of Brigadier General Rodney Smart to his predecessor Major General Kenrick Maharaj raises several troubling issues.
The statement gives the impression that no stone is being left unturned to perpetrate a massive cover-up in this sordid affair. Indeed, this matter has emerged as the biggest conspiracy in Trinidad and Tobago
It is representative of how this Rowley-led government is not only overseeing but also perpetuating systematic institutional failure in this country.
As the person who brought this scandalous matter to national attention, I wish to indicate that the public statement has not explained the role of the Government’s Minister of Everything Stuart Young.
Mr. Young must now tell the country of his presence at the Cumuto military site, how he came about an invitation and his role as the under-age children of Attorney General Faris Al Rawi recklessly paraded with high-powered military weapons.
Since Mr. Al Rawi has still not acknowledged his own children’s role in this outrageous affair, Mr. Young must come out of the closet on this matter and provide full disclosure. He must publicly account for his presence and must detail what he knows of Mr. Al Rawi’s children’s handling of the dangerous weapons.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley must also take prompt and decisive action now that the role of Mr. Al Rawi has been acknowledged. Dr. Rowley cannot retain an Attorney General who deliberately or carelessly allowed dangerous guns to be placed in the hands young children. Mr. Al Rawi must be dismissed as Attorney General.
After dismissing a Government Minister for the choice of a guest at her swearing-in, the Prime Minister must intervene in the alarming matter involving Mr. Al Rawi. To do otherwise suggests that it is one rule for MacDonald and another one for Al Rawi.!
It is noteworthy that Mr. Smart’s “apology” was issued only after an application under the Freedom of Information Act for disclosure of the report of the Board of Enquiry. Mr. Smart had earlier accused Mr. Maharaj of “acting on his own volition” in authorising the military practice.
In his about-turn, Mr. Smart has acknowledged that the report of the Board of Enquiry did not name Mr. Maharaj nor did it state that he had any knowledge of the range practice.
Mr. Smart’s reversal raises disturbing questions about the quality and effectiveness of the administration of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and whether it could be subjected to influence and manipulation.
The country will recall my recent public revelation of the unexplained coincidence of the two top military leaders accessing upscale multi-million-dollar Housing Development Corporation (HDC) homes within a six-week period. While I commend Mr. Smart on his thriftiness, I expect, on behalf of the nation, that he brings similar carefulness and prudence in the execution of his public duties.
Overall, the extent to which certain persons may go to cover up this dark episode in Trinidad and Tobago’s history sends a spine-chilling feeling of how far they may yet go on this and other matters.