Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 12th 2015 Contents A3
July 12, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
TYPHOON HITS CHINA, 1.1M EVACUATED
Militia members evacuate residents in a neighbourhood flooded by heavy
rains from Typhoon Chan-Hom in eastern China's Zhejiang province
yesterday. Some 1.1 million people were evacuated from coastal areas of
Zhejiang and more than 46,000 in neighbouring Jiangsu province ahead of
the storm, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. AP PHOTO
See story on Page A37
STORIES BY RENUKA SINGH
Former head of the National
Operations Centre (NOC), Com-
mander Garvin Heerah, was not
told why he was reassigned to the
post of director general of the
National Security Training Acad-
The Sunday Guardian was
informed that days before Heerah s
reassignment, Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar met with National
Security Minister Carl Alfonso to
discuss appointing a new head of
the NOC. By Thursday, Heerah was
given the official reassignment of
In a telephone interview with the
Sunday Guardian, Heerah said he
was "currently complying with those
instructions" from Alfonso.
"I have advised the executive of
the National Operations Centre to
begin prepping for the handover of
the NOC to the incoming," Heerah
It was reported on Friday that the
new head of the NOC is retired major
and Grandmaster Sarwan Boodram.
"I have been so advised by the
permanent secretary of the Ministry
of National Security that I would
have to proceed on my leave in order
to assume my new appointment,"
Heerah has entitled leave but did
not want to say how long he would
be out before taking up his new post.
When contacted on the reasons
behind Heerah s reassignment,
Alfonso said he was currently attend-
ing a wedding and could not talk at
The Sunday Guardian has learned,
however, that there were several fac-
tors working against Heerah includ-
ing his friendship with the former
national security minister Gary Grif-
fith and his lack of information on
the small militant training sects in
various parts of the country.
Griffith, in a telephone interview,
said as the main man behind the
implementation of the NOC, he had
intimate knowledge of how it should
Boodram, he said, was "undoubt-
edly one of the most qualified per-
sons in this country in operational
and tactical aspects" of law enforce-
ment. He added that Boodram also
trained him during his tenure in the
But even after lauding Boodram,
Griffith said that the NOC was not
the same as the now defunct Special
Anti-crime Unit of T&T (Sautt)
which Boodram headed.
Griffith said while he would not
question Boodram s appointment,
he was unsure that he had the ability
to deal with the operational aspect
inherent in the NOC, since the NOC
reported to the National Security
Council, had to prepare briefings
and dealt with the managerial and
administrative aspects of law
Boodram holds a Master of Sci-
ence Degree in Security and Risk
Management from the School of
Criminology at the University of
Leicester and also served as the cor-
porate security adviser to Atlantic
LNG, as a security consultant to the
tourism and energy industries, and
as a special adviser on national secu-
rity infrastructure to the energy
Heerah unclear on reason for new post
It was the People s National Movement (PNM)
that rejected the July 30 date previously set for the
election debate between Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar and their Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
Rowley, in a brief interview yesterday, directed all
questions on the proposed debate to party chairman
Franklin Khan. Khan, Rowley said, was in charge of
a debate team set up by the PNM to finalise the debate
with the T&T Debates Commission.
"The PNM has put a team in place and at the end
of the day, when that is finalised, they will commu-
nicate the decision to me and we will go forward,"
"I will wait and see," he said.
Khan, in a subsequent interview, confirmed that
there was no new date presented to the PNM.
"We rejected the July 30 date based on the rules
and regulations of the commission," Khan said.
Khan said the PNM found that the criteria for selec-
tion to take part in the debate stipulated that any
party qualified once it was contesting over 21 seats
or could command more that 14.5 per cent of the
"We cannot meet that criteria until after nomination
day," Khan said.
Khan said the PNM was committed to following
due process and that the criteria were fundamental
to that process.
"We re-thought our position and found that the
debate should be held after nomination day," Khan
He said the party had another meeting planned
with the Debates Commission in the coming week
to finalise the party s position and discuss the other
rules and regulations.
"But the PNM is on board and ready for the debate,"
Attorney Larry Lalla, who stands as the debates
negotiator for Persad-Bissessar, wrote to the Debates
Commission highlighting his disappointment that it
did not keep to the July 30 date as previously agreed.
In a strongly worded letter to the Debates Com-
mission, Lalla suggested that another organisation be
entrusted with organising the debate between Rowley
"Given that the TTDC is not now able to fulfil its
commitment to hold the debate on the date fixed, it
is surely now time for the debate to be organised by
another organisation," Lalla said.
"The Prime Minister has indicated her willingness
to take part in the debate on July 30," Lalla added.
With both parties ready for the August 17 nom-
ination day, the new date for the much-anticipated
debate between Persad-Bissessar and Rowley may
be fixed for any time after that. But Lalla, in his
letter to the TTDC, asked for the debate "to be held
soon" in order to help citizens decide in the upcoming
"Everybody should now direct all their energies to
make sure this debate still goes ahead," Lalla said.
Kumar: No political divide in Debates Commis-
When contacted for comment, acting chief executive
officer at Debates Commission, Catherine Kumar,
confirmed that the July 30 debate would have to be
She said though the Debates Commission consulted
with both parties on the date, the EBC had not yet
announced the date for nominations. She said the
PNM was correct in stating that it could not participate
in any debate until after nomination day on August
"The debate is in the best interest of T&T but we
need to also ensure that it is done correctly," Kumar
Kumar also took the time to outrightly deny all
speculation that there was a political divide within
the Debates Commission.
Kumar admitted that she has, in the past, been
approached by both parties to form part of their polit-
ical team but felt she was already making a contribution
to the nation through her work at the T&T Chamber
of Industry and Commerce.
"I have zero political aspirations. The Debates Com-
mission needs to remain as independent as possible
because you are negotiating with both parties," Kumar
PNM rejects debate date
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