Chaguanas West Member of Parliament Jack Warner addressed his constituents at a meeting at the Pierre Road Recreation Ground in Charlieville on Thursday night, as he sought to clear the air on his recent resignation as National Security Minister and chairman of the United National Congress (UNC).
Warner told the audience that he remains loyal to the UNC but he intends to tender his resignation as Chaguanas West MP and contest the subsequent bye-election as a UNC candidate.
Following is the content of his full address:
My dear constituents and the rest of the national community, tonight has been a very sad night for me as I am sure it has been for all of you.
But how did we arrive at this stage?
Why is it that the very party and Government of which all of us have been so proud these past thirty-five (35) months have moved from being a beacon of hope to a dungeon of despair!!!!!!
The one consolation in all of this is that tonight is just a fleeting moment in time and this too shall pass.
My dear constituents, for the past two decades, I have been the target of various kinds of attacks. I have been targeted. My family has been targeted. My friends have been targeted. My detractors have said every dirty thing under the sun about Jack Warner. But in all of that you have kept the faith in me. And for that I thank you. I thank you for trusting me and for the confidence you have shown by your very presence here tonight. Mark my words when I tell you that Jack Warner has never betrayed you and I will never betray your trust.
The Holy Bible says there is a time for everything under the sun; a time to sow and a time to reap; a time to be silent and a time to speak. The world of international sports politics is not a simple one. It is an arena of extremely high stakes. The remuneration packages and the perks of those jobs can be very attractive. And therefore at times the rivalry can become very intense among those lured by the trappings of office and the craving for power.
It is against this background that I have found myself a keenly pursued target. And just as in any all-fours game, how smartly you play the few pieces of trump in your hand can determine whether you win or lose.
And therefore for 20 years while I have been hounded and persecuted, I have held on to my pieces of trump; waiting for the right time to speak. Because I knew that if I spoke too soon the broader objectives that would impact positively on the football in the Caribbean, the poorer nations in the various Confederations and throughout the world could be lost.
But when I see the pain that you are going through these last few days, I have decided that I owe it to you to put your hearts at rest. I owe it to you, my dear constituents; and therefore tonight I will answer the questions that they have been asked for the last 20 years.
And I will say once again, that in no point in time did I ever try to hide these facts. I will show you that these facts have always been in the public domain. The people who have been asking the questions have always had the answers. And in some cases the truth has been a matter of public record and easily accessible to anyone interested in the truth.
Before I go forward, let me say to you that in spite of the trials, tribulations and disappointments that I have incurred; in spite of the character assassination, the slander, the ridicule of my family and the abandonment of long-time friends – in spite of the hurt, in spite of the indignities I have experienced, I stand here tonight void of hatred, animosity or ill will for my Political Leader, my party your party our party, the United National Congress or the People’s Partnership Government.
And before I continue let me place on record for those who have other ideas that I have no intention to leave the United National Congress and I have no intentions of ever being disloyal to my Political Leader and Prime Minister.
By extension therefore I have no intention tonight or any other time for that matter of betraying the People’s Partnership Government for which there is no other sober attractive alternative even at this point in time.
But while my trust and faith in our party and Government is solid as a rock, I can’t say the same about some individuals in our party and in our Government as few as they are.
I stand here tonight, as a Member of the United National Congress, the party that still is the best option for governing the people of Trinidad and Tobago. And I come to deliver the truth with cold hard facts.
When I opened my office at Charlieville in 2006 using my own resources and even before I was elected as a representative for Chaguanas West, my goals and aspirations were to improve the lives of the people living in Chaguanas West.
I said I would never use politics to enrich my wealth or fatten my bank accounts. And I have kept my word. Every day and every month for the last five-and-a-half years I have kept my word to you.
I have never taken my salary as the MP. I take one dollar from it for myself each month and I give the rest away to charity and social causes.
This is my second term as the MP for Chaguanas West and I have never bought a tax-free car – even though it is my legal entitlement.
I promised you on the campaign trail that when we get into government I would not do any foreign travel at the State’s expense. And for the last three consecutive years, of which I have been a government minister, I have never travelled for the government except once when in January 2011, I went to Jamaica with my Permanent Secretary and other members of staff from the Ministry of Works and Transport for the signing of the documents for the merger of Caribbean Airlines and Air Jamaica. For that trip, I paid all my expenses including my air travel and accommodation, and I also paid the expenses for my staff.
In fact, not only did I pay my own way to Jamaica. While I was in Jamaica I visited the Windward Road Primary and Junior High School in Kingston and I made a pledge to donate $0.5 million Jamaican dollars to the school annually for five years; a promise which I have kept.
I have never spent any of the Entertainment Allowance allocated to a Minister nor have I ever allowed the State to pay my phone bills whether they are mobile or landlines. So in a word, I have not been a burden on the State and the Treasury of Trinidad and Tobago. I have kept my word. My hands are clean.
Yet for all my good intentions and for everything right and upstanding that I have done, there exists an unholy alliance hounding me in office, trying to drive me out of office and trying to destroy me.
The fact is that since I became a Member of Parliament, and more so the instant I became a government minister, I have been constantly attacked and harassed by Keith Rowley and the PNM.
The minute I was sworn in as a Government minister, Rowley said that as Vice President of FIFA I should not be allowed to hold a Cabinet post. And that, of course, caused some anxieties until it was finally resolved in my favour. But it was a distraction to the government and the nation. Any other country would have been proud to have a Vice President of FIFA in its midst, not so however for Rowley and his P.N.M.!!!!
And so Rowley and the PNM have been going after me every Monday morning, aided and abetted by persons local and abroad, persons who are both inside and outside my party and government and persons who are self-professed enemies of Jack Warner.
My dear constituents, I tell you that on no less than 37 occasions to date, the last one being last Saturday, they have called for my head – resign or be fired!
On 13 of those occasions the call has come from no less than Rowley whom I will deal with tonight. And on seven occasions it is the insignificant and irrelevant Fitzgerald Hinds whom for tonight only I shall justly dismiss.
The question that now faces us tonight my constituents, is what is the basis for all these attacks?
Constituents, Ladies and gentlemen, this has nothing to do with Trinidad and Tobago’s politics. This has nothing to do with Jack Warner’s stewardship in Government. This has nothing to do with anything wrong that I have done or failed to do in my country. This is a strategy crafted by some conspiratorial cowards who see Jack Warner as an obstacle to their ambitions, both at home and abroad.
The Centre of Excellence issue is just a smoke screen; but if that is where they want to end then that is where I will begin tonight.
On April 6, 1990, I was elected President of CONCACAF and I assumed office in July some three months later. This is the only time I can recall that FIFA deferred the installation of a President of any Confederation for three months. Another time I will tell you the reason why.
I became powerful as the CONCACAF President because I was able to increase the membership of the Caribbean Football Union of which I was also President from 1974 to 2011 into a strong fighting unit to the point where the CFU had 28 out of 40 members in the CONCACAF.
As the President of the CFU with 28 out of 40 members in the CONCACAF, I held a position and a level of power, which I never abused.
In fact when I became President of CONCACAF I was given a table, two chairs and $40,000 to work with from the old Administration.
When I resigned from CONCACAF there was some $37 million in the bank, three offices, and unmeasured goodwill. I recall when I first became CONCACAF President for months we could not pay the rent and it was Chuck’s wife who had to pay it for us. I also recall that we could not pay for an audit of the financial records we inherited and it was Kenny Rampersad & Co. who did our audit free of charge for years.
Kenny, wherever you are, I want to sincerely apologise for whatever pain or embarrassment you and your firm are now experiencing for having associated with CONCACAF.
During the period 1992 to 2011, no other President of any Confederation brought more countries to FIFA than I did because I was of the view that to expand the beautiful game of football there was need for a paradigm change where even small territories such as Anguilla and Aruba, BVI and USVI and even the Cayman Islands should be included.
I never had an elitist policy. As President, my goal was to include and embrace every island state.
It is informative to note that the old CONCACAF had refused the Cayman Islands membership three times before I became its President. And when I became President of CONCACAF in 1990, two years later I made Cayman Islands a member of CONCACAF and of FIFA. And today, that very same President of Cayman Islands is the President of CONCACAF, though he may have conveniently forgotten how he came to be there.
You would remember that prior to 1996 Caribbean football teams were the butt of international ridicule. No one took us seriously. They laughed at us. They humiliated us on and off the field. Our teams were beaten 6-nil, 4-nil and 12-nil by Central American and North American countries.
And by 1996 I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided that something had to be done to improve the quality of football in the Caribbean. So I went to Dr Joao Havelange who was the President of FIFA and I asked him for a $6 Million US loan to open a Centre of Excellence in T&T so that I could lift the level of football in the Caribbean and ultimately the CONCACAF. I also decided then that I would use my influence to increase the CONCACAF allocation of slots for the FIFA World Cup from one half of what it was then to three and one half what it is today.
Dr Havelange was very sympathetic to me and to my cause. He agreed to provide me with the loan and he so instructed the then FIFA General Secretary Sepp Blatter on or about 1997 to proceed accordingly. By 1997, I had taken the loan and I bought the premises of Metal Box and Lever Brothers through two companies which I formed and I also bought lands from Tricon.
But having now bought the land there was nothing I could have done in terms of structure and therefore I went back to Dr Havelange and told him first of all I want the loan to be converted into a grant – a donation – and then I would want his help in terms of getting a structure in place.
Dr Havelange’s help to me had not been unusual but I would say more about that later.
So on May 4, 1998, Dr Havelange wrote me and told me that he had found an external solution to convert the loan into a donation. I have here the letter from Dr Havelange and you can follow on the screens as I ask that the letter be now read to you.
Notice the date May 4, 1998.
On May 14, 1998, ten days later, I wrote Dr Havelange, thanking him for the external solution he had found to assist me with the construction of the Centre of Excellence. There is an error in the year of the referenced letter, which should have been 1998 and not 1996. But notwithstanding that, let’s read:
Again, by letter dated May 26, 1998, I wrote to Dr. Havelange thanking him for converting the FIFA loan into a gift to the CFU and Jack Warner.
On May 29, 1998 Dr Havelange responded by letter expressing his thanks.
You may quite rightly ask why all this flurry of letters in the month ofMay 1998.Well I will tell you. Blatter was Havelange’s candidate to succeed him for the FIFA Presidency. Blatter had been at this time the most hated FIFA official. by both the European and African Confederations and without my CONCACAF support at the FIFA elections, Blatter would never have seen the light of day as President of FIFA.
I told Havelange that, through him, Blatter will get CONCACAF’s total support and Bin Hammam also said the same day thing though at the time he did not have Asia’s 100% support as I had with the CONCACAF.
“Votamos como un bloque”, I told my Central American colleagues. In 1997, Havelange came to Antigua for the Shell Umbro Cup and in an invitation meeting at St. James Club, Antigua, again reiterated his request to me. Again I promised him CONCACAF’s total support. Then and there he began to count Blatter’s votes and said that if CONCACAF supported Blatter he will win by thirty votes.
CONCACAF at the time had 30 voting members.
The FIFA Presidential elections were held in Paris on June 8, 1998. I will now ask that the results of that election be read.
51st FIFA Congress in Paris in 1998
After 24 years in office, Havelange decides not to stand for reelection.
The Congress elects Joseph S. Blatter as his successor. Rival Lennart Johansson withdraws after Blatter has gained 111 votes to Johansson’s 80 after the first ballot.
Joao Havelange becomes a FIFA Honorary President.
Joseph S. Blatter, President of soccer’s world international governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), soccer’s world governing body. Mr Blatter was elected at the 51st Ordinary FIFA Congress on 8 June 1998 in Paris, defeating his opponent in the presidential election, Mr Lennart Johansson, by 111:80 votes.
Before being elected FIFA President, Mr Blatter was General Secretary of FIFA. Mr Blatter was appointed to this position in November 1981 after a distinguished career in business and sport, and was Chief Executive Officer since 1990.
Havlange was off by one!!! Blatter had defeated Johanssen by 31 votes.
An interesting development at that Congress was that Haiti was absent and with Blatter’s permission, I got Captain Horace Burrell’s (of Jamaica) girlfriend to vote as the Haitian delegate by saying, “Oui!” when Haiti’s name was called.
In 1998 therefore, I had delivered and since then I emerged the second highest sporting personality in the FIFA.
1. I was placed on 6 out of 11 committees,
2. I was the Chairman of 2 and the Deputy Chairman of 2, one being the prestigious Finance Committee of the FIFA,
3. Trinidad and Tobago was given the seat to host the Under 17 2001 World Cup, and
4. Additional financial assistance was given for the further construction of the Center of Excellence.
I was Blatter’s idol then and he was mine.
Tonight is not the time nor the place to go into when and why that all changed.
Suffice it to say that because of the construction of the Centre of Excellence and the technical work being taught there Jamaica qualified for the World Cup in 1998 and Trinidad and Tobago in 2006.
Because of Blatter’s assistance to the Caribbean Diaspora, for two consecutive years the CFU was able to host in Trnidad and Tobago age group competitions in July and August for the entire Caribbean where we paid for all the countries football youth teams in the Caribbean:
1. Airfare for 23 persons,
2. Hotel accommodation,
3. Internal travel,
4. Out of pocket allowance for players and officials
5. Out of pocket allowance for referees, linesmen and match commissioners.
On account of this for the first time ever in the history of Caribbean football, two Caribbean countries qualified together for a World Cup Under 17 final, this time in South Korea in 2007 – Haiti and Trinidad & Tobago.
So there was no ambiguity. There was no uncertainty. There was no secret in my dealings towards and with Dr Havelange and the Centre of Excellence.
So the Centre of Excellence was built, first by a loan that was given to Jack Warner that was converted into a grant and by further assistance from Dr Havelange after whom I named the Centre.
The original copies of these letters are supposed to be in the possession of CONCACAF.
Were these letters disclosed to the CONCACAF Integrity Committee headed by Sir David Simmons? I don’t know.