Tuesday, April 15, 2014

JYOTI closes the book, for now

There is a Chinese proverb that says when you get to the last page, close the book.

JYOTI has not reached there but we are suspending our work on this blog until we are able to return to regular coverage of Trinidad and Tobago news. We regret this unavoidable decision and thank the more than one million visitors for your support over the years.

We hope we can be back soon; it has been a wonderful journey thus far.

Please browse our archives of more than 12,000 entries covering Trinidad and Tobago since 2007, with news and commentaries on topics of national interest.

Also, read my book - FAR FROM THE MOUNTAIN - political notes and commentaries - which covers T&T politics between 2007 and 2012. It's published by PARIA and available at bookstores locally and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Presenting a copy of FAR FROM THE MOUNTAIN to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Thanks again for your support. We'll be back!

Jai Parasram - 15 April 2014

Here are some notes about the book:

Appendix I


            Several years ago I started writing regular commentaries, mainly about political developments in my native Trinidad & Tobago. They formed an integral part of my personal blog (www.jyoticommunication.blogspot.com), which remains a permanent fixture on the Internet.
            The intention was to stay in touch and offer my personal views on how I saw my home country develop. The result is a collection that is neither a history book nor an academic text. It is the work of a journalist who tries to shed light on and seeks to explain some of the issues during a critically important period in Trinidad & Tobago’s political development between 2007 and 2012. It presents a view from afar, perhaps even a clearer view, because from a distance it is always easier to get a proper view of the mountain.
            This series of news items, columns and commentaries reflect my thoughts and views on how I saw my country struggle, stumble and then make positive steps as it tried to move forward under a government that, for the first time in the country’s history, represents people from every stratum in the society, regardless of class, social standing, ethnicity or religious belief.
            The period covered in these pages saw the consolidation of power by the People’s National Movement (PNM) under Patrick Manning following his ascension to office by presidential decree in 2001, the near-death experience of the United National Congress (UNC); the conflicts within the party that once governed the country; the birth of the Congress of the People (COP); the selfless struggle by a dedicated few to revive the UNC and finally the rise of Kamla Persad-Bissessar to lead the party and the country. 
            Within four months of becoming political leader of the UNC Kamla and her political colleagues formed a national coalition of interests that won a decisive political victory in a general election that was not due until 2012. The powerful People’s Partnership toppled Patrick Manning and his PNM administration and Kamla became the first woman to lead a government of Trinidad & Tobago.
            What you are holding in your hands is a collection of my thoughts, a record of how I saw things.  It is by no means exhaustive and is really a snapshot of the period, compressing time and space to build a political narrative.
            My hope is that you will find material here to generate a national conversation on where we are today and where are heading as we continue our journey past the first 50 years since we pulled down the Union Jack and hoisted our own national flag with a pledge to create a new state forged from the “Love of Liberty” where each of us would “find an equal place.”
            I thought of calling this “A political lime” because in a sense that is what it is – and honest, from-the-heart conversation tinged with my own bias as I responded to the daily events and the changing political fortunes. I have to confess that it pained me to write some of what you find in these pages but I felt a patriotic obligation to write down my thoughts for posterity.
Jai Parasram | Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

Appendix II

            I have known Jai Parasram for the better part of two decades. Our paths have crisscrossed over the years and we have maintained a friendship that has been sustained through periods of intense connection and discussion and periods of absence through physical distance.
            Jai is a patriot who was one of the pillars at Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) having joined the company on 16th February, 1972. He has seen politics and society at close range from both sides of the camera and he has a compelling story to tell.
            For most of his career, he has reported and analysed the news, but there is a side to his amazing life that has not recorded the extent to which he has, in fact, helped to make the news.
            Jai represents the quintessential Trinidadian who has broken all of the stereotypes that would apply to him in the land of his birth by virtue of the fact that his professional reputation as a renowned producer, editor and broadcaster have earned him acclaim internationally.
            As a highly respected journalist at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Toronto, which he joined on 13th June, 1988, Jai has earned the accolades befitting someone whose talent is rare. His voice resonated over the black and white (and later colour) airwaves of TTT in his native Trinidad and Tobago in the 1970s and 1980s and that grounding led him to win journalism awards locally, regionally and in Canada for his work...
            Jai was part of a team that launched the well-known CBC cable news and current affairs television network “Newsworld” (now called Canada News Network) on 31st July, 1989. It was only the second twenty-four hour all-news channel to be established in North America after CNN had started “Headline News” some time before.       He was a main driver of the growth of “Newsworld” in Canada as an editor, writer and producer.
            Often times, the passage of time and the forgetfulness of post-colonial societies that do not bother to document their histories will wipe away the richness of their own past glories. Jai, like so many others who have hit more than the proverbial glass ceiling in West Indian societies, had to be part of an inevitable diaspora that allowed very good homegrown talent to blossom elsewhere because of the smallness and inequalities of these West Indian societies that scream equality and whisper discrimination of all types. 
            Jai has made a pause here to let us have an insight into his own contribution to his passage across the digital divide with a collection of hundreds of blogs that he has written over a five-year period that tells the story of the fall of the Manning regime and the arrival of the first female Prime Minister, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, into office.
            Much has been said and written about this period of the political history of Trinidad and Tobago, but this story is told through the eyes of a person whose journalistic and political instincts can intimately describe the political rise of Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Academics, journalists and activists of all political persuasions will find this book to be meticulously compiled, yet easy to read as they can relate to its subjects and objects.
            In reading this book, it is important to do so far from the mountain because that is how it was written.  Jai has never lost sight of that mountain that he has always been able to see from the plains of Caroni or through the lenses of the cameras at the CBC.

Appendix III
Publisher’s Note

            We met Jai Parasram in July this year when we were introduced to this veteran journalist by Dr. Hamid Ghany, with whom we had collaborated with in 2012 on the production of the official commemorative magazine of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to mark the 50th anniversary of the Independence of our nation.
            Dr. Ghany had a good hunch that Jai’s manuscript would be a good fit with Paria Broadcasting’s overall work. The author’s concept for this book, “Far from the Mountain”, immediately caught our interest. As a publishing house specialised in the history of Trinidad and Tobago, we saw a two-fold uniqueness in this book: on the one hand, it presented contemporary history in a diary form, which allowed for a depth and spontaneity that “hindsight research” wouldn’t, and on the other hand, its content had previously been published as a blog, which gave it inter- medial linkages that we always look for.
            We of course, knew Jai as an early pioneer of television journalism in Trinidad and Tobago. Jai rose through the ranks of Trini- dad’s national television service, Trinidad and Tobago Television (ttt) as a reporter, writer, producer, anchor and News Director, and we are happy that he added his memories of TTT as an appendix to this book. Unfortunately, these pages do not have any sound, because like ourselves, many Trinidadians and Tobagonians of a “certain generation” would remember his voice very well from TTT’s nightly news programme “Panorama”.
            As a much-respected journalist Jai Parasram travelled the Caribbean, always focused on “telling the story” — telling THE story, concisely and with wit and the sort of sparse commentary that leave it open to the viewer or reader to draw his or her own conclusions. This skill of the journalist of four decades is also very evident in “Far from the Mountain”. Whether you intend to read the short chapters consecutively, or browse and dip into the pages wherever fancy takes you — Jai’s journalistic genius will always add value to your reading experience.
            What attracted us particularly to this manuscript was the “witness to history” format. Jai’s epistles accompany an important period of change in Trinidad and Tobago’s political history. On an almost month- by-month basis, he summarises and annotates events surrounding the emergence of Kamla Persad-Bissessar as prime minister of the country. Jai, ever the master storyteller, weaves facts of the past that are easily forgotten in the urgency of the present into an overall narrative that makes them memorable and logical. And the savvy political strategist also shimmers through these pages. Jai takes position and does not spare with ammunition, so reader, be prepared for numerous volleys!
            “Although I live in Canada, my feet remain grounded in Trinidad and Tobago,” Jai told us. With “Far from the Mountain”, Jai Parasram has left a legacy of great academic value and a virtual “how to” book for budding journalists, all seasoned with a pinch of homesickness that gives this book its patriotic flavour.


Appendix IV


Introduction by Ajay Parasram


A divided opposition; the struggle for survival
Common sense and the politics of opposition
The trouble with disunity
How to win an election or lose one
Let the people decide
Don’t celebrate COP victory yet
Political lessons from Canada
Super weekend for T&T politics
Politics by numbers; gambling with T&T’s future
Panday is not dead yet; UNC support still strong
Time to focus on T&T’s future; tomorrow is too late
The trouble with polls
Basdeo Panday and the politics of opposition
Basdeo Panday: Look in the mirror


Democracy in portions
Griffith challenges COP leader
COP bickering exposes vulnerability of opposition politics
Dookeran says deal with the UNC-A is an option
Panday expulsion is a brilliant strategy of distraction
Leave the laptop; get on with the people’s business
Speaker’s agenda lost in propaganda over laptop affair
Don’t save face; save the nation
Food prices and survival back home in T&T
Minister calls for supermarket boycott; blames grocers for high food prices
Looting, assault and robbery a routine affair in T&T
Revenge of the stepchild
What agriculture incentives?
Has Rowley’s time come?
Now is the time to stand up for T&T
Failed state or failing?
Manning announces enquiry into construction sector and UDeCOTT
Why does T&T need a new form of indentureship?
Is Manning making Grenada a colony?
Why is the opposition giving the government a free ride?
Free speech at risk
Improve media standards, but don’t curtail freedom
One year after Manning’s 26-15 victory; Do we like it son?


Time to unite and save T&T: jack Warner
Jack ready to hit the road if UNC refuses to change
Send me off in a blaze of glory
Can Couva North be Panday’s Waterloo
Panday, Dookeran want independent inquiry into Bakr affidavit
Time to defend our freedom
Does Jeremi’e friend or foe exclude PM Manning?
Ramesh might challenge Panday for UNC leadership
Who will lead the UNC?
Warner, Dookeran keep unity flame ablaze
Warner urges constituents to destroy Ravanas
Dookeran praises Warner, launches new search for unity
It’s time to end the battles and unite to win the war
PM Manning says Rowley not fired over UDeCOTT
Manning calls Rowley a ‘raging bull’
UNC delegate tells Panday step aside and let Kamla lead
Dookeran slams government; talks of Panday-Manning alliance
Opposition political games hurting T&T


Kamla to take on Bas, Ramesh for UNC leadership
Kamla’s gamble
Don’t celebrate Kamla’s victory yet
Challenging the UNC status quo
All not well in Panday camp
The will of the majority must prevail in UNC election
Nomination Day marks start of home stretch in epic UNC election battle
Warner fought for Mark to get Senate seat
Media, politics and the truth
Kamla praises Panday but says he’s too wounded to lead
You are a loser, Kamla tells Panday
Is there life after the election?
What is the UNC protecting?
Has the UNC lost its way?
Kamla beats Bas; says it’s a people’s victory
Kamla takes charge of UNC; praises media
Panday’s control of UNC is betrayal of the people
Kamla unseats Panday
Don’t let Panday stand in the way of progress


Kamla files no confidence motion in government
Who shot Calder Hart?
Opposition unity is good news but at what price?
COP/UNC agree on 2-way contest in next election
Manning tells PNM get ready for election
Manning makes a gamble but is the opposition ready?
Manning’s options: prorogue or dissolve
Kamla wants Manning to fire housing minister, UDeCOTT board
Kamla wants Manning’s resignation
Parliament dissolved
Manning’s gamble; don’t celebrate yet
Manning was facing palace coup: Kamla
The Rowley factor is the PNM’s albatross
Kamla declares victory at hand; leaders sign unity accord
Manning’s dirty politics won’t hurt Kamla
Opposition team can easily win majority
Political games in the PNM
It’s worth it to dream of a united T&T
Jack exposes PNM conspiracy to smear him
Standing up for T&T
One million to choose the way forward for T&T
Graphics – The leaders/PNM pledges/PP pledges/PP seven pillars
Graphics: Newspaper front pages: Express, Guardian, Newsday
Kamla’s victory speech
Manning graceful in defeat
Yes we can; T&T takes a quantum leap forward
The test begins for Kamla’s experiment in participatory democracy
Manning’s resignation from PNM
Kamla appoints first cabinet
Jack the giant killer
No room for complacency
Does PNM deserve forgiveness?
PP wins LGE; No one will divide us again: Kamla
PNM must confess its sins in order to move on
Opposition infighting is bad news for T&T and PNM


Kamla’s yellow dress was always green (with photo)
Police must not be allowed to hold a nation to ransom
Can Rolwey justify his mutiny
Is the PSA uprising really about money?
Are we there yet?
Is Rowley a drowning man clutching at straws
Manning should be censured for making mischief
What is Manning contemplating?
It’s time for Rowley to stop the pappyshow
PNM kills hanging bill
Let’s grow food and build houses
Kamla fires Mary King
Did Rowley really visit NY mission on Nov. 05?
Workers must start asking their unions some questions
Don’t be fooled by Rowley’s crocodile tears
Rowley should learn to lead or just get out of the way
Afro-Trinis commit majority of crime in T&T: Sandy
Don’t give a moose a muffin
PM says PNM didn’t deal with crime
If you think Manning is quitting politics, watch for Santa Claus
The SOE worked. Now let’s keep criminals on the run
Don’t put on your campaign jerseys yet
What’s panday trying to prove?


Rowley should not be offended by Kamla’s act of humility
We need more humility – guest column by IRA MATHUR
McLeod’s departure from MSJ won’t damage coalition
Rowley must start leading instead of just being a rabble rouser
Kamla’s vision
So what’s wrong with a welfare state?
Doctors must honour their oats and put patients first
Kamla still strong but protests will continue
Battle for San Fernando East
Choose a side Abdulah, you can’t have it both ways
Roget’s war more important than settlement at Petrotrin
Rowley’s gamble could inflict political injury on PNM
Now is the time for PNM to get rid of its albatross
Lee Sing is new Rowley target
Leave Kamla alone
It’s time for COP to get over its political tabanca
COP’s gamble can be costly and lead to its own demise
Partnership will stand with or without COP
Trust Kamla to keep partnership together
Labour’s best deal is to remain part of the People’s Partnership
Labour united in 1976 but failed to win power
Lee Sing getting ready to lead PNM?
COP must be careful it doesn’t shoot itself in the foot
All’s well that ends well but stormy seas lie ahead
Time for Abdulah to make up his mind about PP
PP remains strong because it welcomes dissent
Labour advancing agenda at the expense of workers
Abdulah must show leadership and resign as government Senator
Music that celebrates humanity cannot be imprisoned within the narrow walls of racism
Time for Abdulah to remove the mask
Labour still has best representation in PP government
Progress means some inconvenience
The facts show that Jack did nothing wrong
Why does Rowley want to waste Parliament’s time again?
A thought for emancipation day – Are we free yet?
PM Kamla: National day of Prayer


We still have a long way to go
And now … it’s time to close the book.

Monday, April 14, 2014

PM Kamla gets high marks from Jamaican columnist


"Kamla Persad-Bissessar, since her inauguration, has impressed me as a leader of action, tremendous intellect, fortitude and sound judgement...

"Her statement, that "Trinidad was not the ATM of the Caribbean" angered many, some because of their mendicant proclivities. But in that statement I saw the trappings and trimmings of an astute leader who was willing to challenge the status quo and make a difference...

"Here we have a leader who is not worried about leaving a legacy of election victories as her major accomplishment; but is much more concerned about the kind of country she will bequeath to her children, grandchildren, and the people of Trinidad and Tobago. 

"Evidently, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, is not dwarfed by realpolitik that is influenced by a process of what I call 'regional political osmosis'. She has shunned the description that PJ Patterson attached to Jamaica's politics -- "a fight for scarce benefits and spoils carried on by hostile tribes which seem to be perpetually at war". 

Read the full column:
Jamaica deserves better than Scooby Doo and Shaggy-type leadership

Hart says he will be Trinidad when court requests his presence

Calder Hart has told the Express newspaper he will return to Trinidad when the High Court requests his presence.

The paper said it conducted a brief interview with
the former Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) executive chairman on Sunday and Hart told the paper he would be back when required by the court.

He was responding to questions from the Express in reaction to comments by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan that if Hart fails to show up for legal matters in which he is named then the authorities would "hunt down and arrest" Hart. 

However Hart told the Express he will not be in court on Wednesday for the case management hearing. "My attorneys are representing me before the courts and I am guided by what they are saying," the paper quoted Hart as saying.

The State is seeking to recover more than $65 million in relation to the Brian Lara Cricket Academy at Tarouba, and the Ministry of Legal Affairs Tower in Port of Spain. A lawsuit that was filed in 2012 has been amended to include former UDeCOTT executives Krishna Bahadoorsingh, Ricardo O’Brien and Neelanda Rampaul.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

AG promises to arrest HArt if necessary to bring him to trial in T&T

File: Calder Hart
Anand Ramlogan told the Guardian newspaper on Saturday authorities would ensure that Calder Hart is "hunted down and arrested" if the former executive chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (UDeCOTT) does not return to Trinidad for criminal and civil matters currently before the courts.

"Mr Hart has in fact been located and has been communicating through his lawyers, and at the appropriate time, will have to come to testify and be cross-examined in court,” Ramlogan told the Sunday Guardian.  
Hart's matter is supposed to come up "by this week or next week" the Guardian quoted the Attorney General as saying. Hart currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Hart is facing one claim by the State for $500 million for the mismanagement of the unfinished Taruba stadium. The report of the Uff Commission of Enquiry recommended that police investigate Hart for allegedly misspending billions of dollars in UDeCOTT projects.

Former UDeCOTT deputy chairman Krishna Bahadoorsingh, former financial manager Ricardo O’Brien and former corporate secretary Neelanda Rampaul are also defendants in the case against Hart.

Ramlogan said Hart has indicated through his legal team that “he is available and will not evade the jurisdiction of court and will submit himself for cross-examination when the trial begins”.

Ramlogan could not give a timeline for the legal matter, explaining that it is up to a judge to set a trial date.

"But I made a plea to the judiciary to treat these matters with the urgency they deserve because they involve serious allegations of misuse and corruption of public funds,” Ramlogan told the paper. “My only worry is that the judicial process is very slow. This matter should be given priority.”

Ramlogan said if Hart fails to come back for the trial "we will invoke the procedures to compel him to present himself before the court, including asking for his arrest if necessary, but that is academic because thus far he has been communicating through his legal team."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Let old wounds heal: PM Kamla

"All throughout human history, where nations around the world came to turning points where the future was to be transformed and a new path was to be chosen, there was never a time when everyone agreed...If we as a nation are to truly continue walking forward, we are the ones who will hurt ourselves if we remain locked in the past.

"And for anyone who still holds to the pain of the past, I ask that we allow old wounds to heal, consider what we have been able to learn, and then allow ourselves to grow...history is there to teach us.

"When we realize that our actions today will inevitably create the future, it becomes our duty to rise above that which pains us personally, and do what is best for our country...

"Our every action, our every word, our every conviction will all come together to create the future. Acting responsibly is therefore not just a requirement, it is our duty."

Kamla pays tribute to Robinson; urges the nation to let go of the past

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar paid tribute to former president Arthur N.R. Robinson in the House of Representatives Friday, describing him as one of Trinidad and Tobago's "most celebrated and honoured sons". She referred as well to the political wounds and pleaded for everyone to move on.

"And for anyone who still holds to the pain of the past, I ask that we allow old wounds to heal, consider what we have been able to learn, and then allow ourselves to grow." 
She traced his early life and political achievements noting that he was the only citizen to have held both the posts of Prime Minister and President of the country. He was also the first Chairman of the Tobago House of Assembly.

She also announced how the nation plans to mourn Robinson. "In honour of the man he was, the life he lived, the dignity with which he served his country and the proud legacy he has left for us to emulate, I have instructed the Minister of National Security to fly the national flag at half-mast during a period of national mourning.

"His body will lie in state in the Rotunda of the Red House and I know thousands of our citizens would want to take the opportunity to pay their respects.

"Later his body will be flown to the island of his birth, Tobago, where it will also lie in state, followed by a private internment." Persad-Bissessar also extended "most heartfelt condolences" to Robinson's family - his children David and Ann-Margaret, and his granddaughter Anushka.

She added, that Robinson’s passing "is a deep and tragic loss for our country, but I am sure he will always stand as an inspiration to today’s and tomorrow’s people."

Commenting on his political career Persad-Bissessar spoke of Robinson's first patriotic move against his own party, the People's National Movement (PNM), when he spoke out against the proposed Public Order Bill and left the PNM to seek an alternative route of serving the people through a new political group that eventually joined other opposition forces to eventually remove the PNM from office in 1986.

"He was a man driven by intellect and passion," she said. "He had his own thoughts and beliefs on what was right for Trinidad & Tobago and when he found that the party to which he attached himself diverged from his thinking, he set out in search of a new political platform."

She also spoke of the challenges Robinson faced on taking charge of the government in 1986, noting that he "bravely took the tough decisions required at that time".

She said, "We all remember those years. The NAR Government inherited an economy that was in an advanced stage of decline. A deep recession was setting in. Revenue was falling. The nation’s finances were depleted. The times were hard and called for hard decisions.

"And it was Mr Robinson, supported by people like Selby Wilson and our own Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Dookeran, who dug their heels in and did what they had to do."

The Prime Minister also highlighted Robinson's stand against terrorism. "Even when our darkest hours came when his Government came under attack by armed insurgents, Mr Robinson was clear that he would lay down his life if it meant that democracy would emerge the victor.

"We all remember and now, reminisce about his courageous command to the armed forces to “attack with full force”.

"Here it is a Prime Minister of our proud and free Republic, was being held hostage. Our people and our way of life were under siege. Insurgents took aim at his head, and yet, he defied orders to tell the armed forces to stand down.

"To Mr Robinson, the members of his Government and the Members of Parliament who endured this horrific experience, the lives and freedoms of the people of Trinidad & Tobago were far too important, and if it meant surrendering their lives to save our country, they were willing to do it.

"And Mr Speaker, let us never forget the Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central, Mr Leo Des Vignes, who died from injuries sustained during the insurrection."

Persad-Bissessar spoke about a gentle and humane side of Robinson's "majestic" personality. "In all of the pain and suffering that he and the members of his Cabinet endured, it was a simple note, with a simple message that gave him the will to fight on.

"In his account of the ordeal, Mr Robinson recalled one of the insurgents passing him an envelope, saying it was a message from his wife. He said when he opened the envelope and read the note, the three words gave him the strength to carry on. Those three words were written on a piece of paper by his wife – “I love you”, she said.

Persad-Bissessar also spoke of the fall of the NAR government, caused by the anger people felt over the tough decisions Robinson was forced to make. "Citizens at that time were not in a charitable mood and did not want explanations for why the harsh measures were necessary," she said. 

And she remembered the rise of Robinson to work in a coalition with the United National Congress (UNC) with then Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, his elevation to the presidency and the 2001 decision Robinson made to hand the government to Patrick Manning.

"We all know what the arguments were at that time; we all know how we felt at that time and how we were prepared to fight his decision. Many were hurting – one side did not lose, but the other side did not win.

"But today, almost 14 years later, that decision has written itself into history as a moment when our nation was forced to re-examine its supreme law and reconsider the arrangements by which we govern ourselves.

"Mr Speaker, all throughout human history, where nations around the world came to turning points where the future was to be transformed and a new path was to be chosen, there was never a time when everyone agreed.

"Yes, there was pain, there was anguish…there was even bitterness. But Mr Speaker, if we as a nation are to truly continuing walking forward, we are the ones who will hurt ourselves if we remain locked in the past.

"And for anyone who still holds to the pain of the past, I ask that we allow old wounds to heal, consider what we have been able to learn, and then allow ourselves to grow.

"Mr Speaker, history is there to teach us. Each of us in this Honourable House, and those members like Mr Robinson who came before us, hold a rare and privileged place, where we not only become part of history, but also become the authors of it.

"When we realize that our actions today will inevitably create the future, it becomes our duty to rise above that which pains us personally, and do what is best for our country.

"In all of the things that I have been able to learn in my own long career in politics, Mr Speaker, it is this that guides me.

"Our every action, our every word, our every conviction will all come together to create the future. Acting responsibly is therefore not just a requirement, it is our duty.

"And this is why Mr Speaker, notwithstanding our arguments in the past and our conviction that something wrong was done…the past is best honoured by learning and letting go.

"Was Mr Robinson the perfect human being? No he wasn’t. He was as imperfect as any one of us here in this House. But what set him apart was that in just his one lifetime, he set out on a journey to change the life he found, and he succeeded...I am very happy that Mr Robinson was able to see for himself the admiration that he earned...Mr Robinson was able to see his name honoured with the Tobago Airport.

"Today, though it is a sad moment in our history, I find comfort in knowing that he will now be reunited with his life-time partner and best friend, his wife, the late Patricia Robinson...

"Mr Speaker, Mr Robinson’s passing is a deep and tragic loss for our country, but I am sure he will always stand as an inspiration to today’s and tomorrow’s people. And that inspiration can very well be a tribute to our nation’s motto – Together we aspire, together we achieve.

"May his soul now find peace."

Political quote: Winston Dookeran on Robinson

"In my own journey with him in the formation of the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) and in the efforts he made during that period, he knew that what was right today would be acknowledged tomorrow. That is the lesson I learnt from him...

"His defence of democracy could not have been better explained and expressed than in the events of 1990 which we know about...

"I sat in this very Parliament, not in this spot, to see the atrocities that he had to undergo in the darkest hour of our democracy and he stood even at the risk of death." 
Winston Dookeran - Tribute to A.N.R. Robinson in Parliament 11 April 2014

Manning praises Robinson for "significant and impactful decisions"

Patrick Manning praised former President Arthur N.R. Robinson Friday as a leader who made "significant and impactful decisions" during his tenure as both PM and head of state.
Manning was the beneficiary of one of those decisions. Robinson appointed him PM on Christmas Eve 2001 following then 18-18 tie in the general election saying the country needed a leader
who displayed high "moral and spiritual values". 

It was perhaps the most controversial decision Robinson made during his 45 years in active politics. Basdeo Panday was the prime minister and his UNC had won the higher popular voter although the PNM and UNC won 18 seats.

What became highly controversial was Robinson's justification for his decision. Many people saw it as insulting to everyone who did not share Manning's religious values.

In a brief statement, the MP for San Fernando East MP said, "He (Robinson) has secured a place in the history of this blessed nation as one who has served in public life over several decades, dedicating himself to the service of the public, and making significant and impactful decisions over his tenure, both as Prime Minister, and as President.”

He added, “(He) will be remembered for his courage and bravery in the many dire circumstances he encountered as Prime Minister, most significant of which, was the 1990 attempted coup...

“We thank God for the long and fulfilling life that he has lived in the face of the many challenges...I especially acknowledge the special place that Mr Robinson holds in the hearts of the people of Tobago, his homeland. I pray that God Almighty will comfort all who mourn at this time of loss. May his soul rest in peace."

Court rules against former UTT board, orders payment of $10.9M

A court has dismissed an application by former members of the board of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and ordered that the defendants pay $10.9 million to UTT.

UTT took action against the former board led by Professor Ken Julien based on a forensic audit ordered by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan following allegations of gross misconduct and financial irregularities with respect to decisions made by the previous board.

The board
instituted proceedings against Julien, Dr. Rene Monteil, Giselle Marfleet, Scott Hilton-Clarke and Errol Pilgrim, who asked the court to strike out the claims against them.

However Justice Vasheist Kokaram ruled that there was "an arguable claim of breach of fiduciary duties which has caused a loss to UTT" and stated that UTT's claim against the former board members was neither "speculative nor fanciful". In dismissing the application by the defendants the court ordered that they pay costs to UTT.  

The compensation claim of $10.9 million included $2.85M in lost rent during the period 01st February 2006 to 31st October 2010 and $1.48M annual operating costs, together with a capital expenditure of $1.02M.

In a media release UTT said, "This judgement vindicates the decision of the Board to hold investigations and commence proceedings against the former members of the UTT Board of Governors."

Friday, April 11, 2014

AG refers FCB shares matter to DPP, CoP

Phillip Rahman
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said on Thursday he has referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and acting Commissioner of Police the matter of the purchase of 659,588 shares from First Citizens' Bank's initial public offering (IPO) by the bank's former chief risk officer Philip Rahaman.

Finance Minister Larry Howai commissioned a report on the matter in February and when he got it, the minister referred it to the AG. 

Speaking Thursday at the post cabinet media briefing Ramlogan said he referred the PricewaterhouseCoopers report for the DPP and police chief to consider whether there is justification to lay several criminal charges, arising out of violations of the Securities Act.

He also stated that he would ask the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to ensure that there is fair and equitable dealings in securities and the protection of the integrity of the securities market "against any abuses arising from market manipulation practices and improper practices”.

Ramlogan said the SEC should investigate possible breaches under Section 91, 94 and 95. A person who is convicted of an offence under these sections can be jailed for five years and fined $2 million. Sections 100-101 deal with insider trading and carry a fine of $5 million and seven years in prison.

Ramlogan said the issue is not the purchase of a large number of shares. “If Rahaman had purchased his shares for his own right, no issue could arise. And any employee would be free to do that. The issue is whether non-employees were able to access a shares category that was reserved expressly for employees,” he said. He noted that an employee could buy any number of shares.

He explained that First Citizens chief executive Larry Nath bought 215,000 stock units. "In relation to Nath’s purchase, his application was submitted through the lead broker and was in conformity with the requirements of the prospectus. His purchase was financed by loans from Scotiabank and First Citizens." Ramlogan said.

Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai