By Capil Bissoon
Just over a week ago, Petrotrin issued a Media Release advising that its current chairman Professor Andrew Jupiter did not participate in the decision to have the case of its former Executive Chairman, Malcolm Jones, withdrawn “as he was not present during the discussion of the matter”.
Both Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Attorney General Farris Al-Rawi are silent on this issue and there is no discussion among top officials on the subject since Petrotrin issued that release.
The PNM, best at political distraction and intolerant of even the mildest criticism or dissent, seems to have been hoping that the long Easter weekend and the Spiritual Baptist/Shouter Liberation Day celebration would allow the matter to be forgotten.
It has not. And the lingering question is what really was the reason for Petrotrin issuing such a release?
It is most unusual for a State entity to make such a statement after both the Prime Minister and Attorney General had said otherwise. So this media release poses more questions than answers.
Petrotrin said Jupiter was not involved in the decision making process but does not say about the action of the rest of the Board. Is it that Jupiter has decided that he will not be used for political expediency by the Government?
Rowley, Al-Rawi and the PNM have shifted responsibility for throwing out the Malcolm Jones case to the Petrotrin board, which raises questions about which side is trying to fool the population.
Rowley was adamant that it was not the AG but rather the Petrotrin Board that made the decision. This is beyond playing smart with foolishness… this is insulting the intelligence of the people of T&T.
What appears strange is that the PM and AG appear to have usurped the role of Professor Jupiter and Board of Petrotrin by defending the Board’s action. The confusion got worse when Jupiter cleared himself. Meanwhile, the board is yet to make a statement on the process and whether that decision was made following proper procedure.
While Rowley has consistently given the impression that this was a decision of the Board of Petrotrin, the board’s silence, except for Jupiter’s brief statement, raises some doubt.
If everything was above board and the directors of the state oil company met and decided not to pursue the Malcolm Jones case, it would be really simple for the board to say so. But its refusal or reluctance to do so suggests that this decision was not made by the board and Jupiter felt it was necessary to clear his name from what is turning out to be messy state of affairs.
This Malcolm Jones issue now comes down to the question of honesty and trust. This is about not taking people for fools.
This matter has moved from being “a bad business decision which meant that due diligence and securing the best interests of the Company were not followed” to one where the political directorate should be called out for being less than honest with the country.
Other board members might be toeing the line but in the process they are losing credibility. It’s difficult, given the performance of the past six months, to take the Prime Minister and his Government at their word, since they have been economical with the truth and facts.
The PNM is in disarray and impotent when it comes to offering practical and workable solutions to the many challenges facing the country. The Malcolm Jones affair is one glaring example but the population is slowly coming to the realization that the PNM has failed to deal with crime, make any move to diversify the economy, improve our health care system or to take this country forward.