Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 8th 2018 Contents commentary A17
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Diplomatic brie ings
As the foreign pol-
country's vote at
the OAS on the
request by Domi-
nica to seek a waiver of its an-
nual fees to the organisation for
the years 2018 and 2019 contin-
ues to simmer, there appears to
be some hope that a resolution
of the matter will come.
The Prime Minister has de-
cided to place an interpretation
of the facts into the hands of
former ambassador Christopher
Thomas who will try to make
sense of what appears to be a
very complex situation based
on the report the Prime Minis-
ter has read.
That means that both Foreign
and CARICOM Affairs Minister
Dennis Moses and T&T Ambas-
sador to the OAS, Anthony Phil-
lips-Spencer, have been given a
temporary reprieve pending the
determination to be made by
Thomas for the consideration
of the Prime Minister.
The issue of the constitutional
doctrine of individual ministe-
rial responsibility must play a
part in any analysis of this sit-
This doctrine is supported by
three main rules, namely (i) the
advice rule, (ii) the culpability
rule, and, (iii) the propriety
In breaking this down, it is
critical to understand that min-
isters are entitled to depart-
mental advice in the discharge
of their duties before making
any policy decisions.
Also, ministers are to be held
culpable for policy error, and
inally, ministers are required
to maintain good standards of
The statement that was issued
by the Ministry of Foreign and
CARICOM Affairs clearly points
to policy error on the face of
An excerpt from that state-
ment as reported in the Guard-
ian on March 30 says:
"In an unquali ied way, the
Ministry of Foreign and Cari-
com Affairs regrets the misrep-
resentation of the position of
T&T offered by a public of icial
of T&T during a meeting of the
OAS' Permanent Council (held
March 23) relative to a request
from Dominica for a waiver of
its inancial contribution to that
Organization for 2018 to 2019.
Currently, an investigation
into the brie ing arrangements
of the public of icial and the
circumstances involved in the
discussion at the OAS is under-
For the ministry to state that
it is investigating the "brie ing
arrangements" is ominous be-
cause it will eventually put the
minister front and centre where
this controversy is concerned.
The ministry has already
publicly confessed to a "mis-
representation" of the position
of the Government of T&T in
respect of the statement made
by its ambassador who is being
referred to as a "public of icial"
which is a slap down to him.
He was not even afforded
the courtesy of being publicly
addressed as an "ambassador"
which is what he is.
In the diplomatic world, the
use of words must always be
very carefully examined to get
clues to the intention behind
what is being said.
What comes through in that
statement was the attempt to
temporarily shield the minister
by putting the blame on "brief-
ing arrangements" as opposed
to the minister's policy.
Secondly, the "ambassador"
has been downgraded to a
"public of icial" and, thirdly,
there is an open confession of
Ambassador Thomas will
have a lot more to consider than
the documents that have been
leaked to date in this matter.
The one thing that the pub-
lic has is the of icial statement
of the ministry. Prime Minister
Rowley did not hide the fact
that he was shocked by the
contents of the report that he
It is apparent that the T&T
delegation to the OAS was in
favour of giving Dominica the
two-year waiver however, the
ambassador sought guidance
from the ministry itself (not the
kind of thing that a rogue diplo-
mat would do).
He apparently got his direc-
tive and he faithfully complied
with it. Now we hear that that
was a "misrepresentation."
If the ambassador deviated
from his brief, then he is at
fault. For everything else, there
is individual ministerial respon-
Will youth inspire and force change?
"Ijust threw up
feels so good,"
was the reaction
of the teenager
when, she, like hundreds of
thousands of her peers across
the US, and a reported 800 pro-
test sites spread worldwide, said
they were sick of the senseless
killing of teenagers and were
against guns and violence.
The young lady, tingling
with enthusiasm, but not over-
whelmed, was satis ied that she
had successfully taken on the
establishment in a very unortho-
It was a confrontation not
only against guns and violence
but a movement against an un-
conscionable economic system
represented by the National
Rifle Association (NRA) and its
primary intention to manufac-
ture and sell more guns notwith-
standing the consequences.
Moreover, the estimated
800,000 who marched on Wash-
ington said to President Trump,
whose major response to the cri-
sis was to buy into a plan to arm
teachers to allow the gun man-
ufacturers to produce and sell
even more guns, that "change"
has to come.
The youth indicated their in-
tention not to take "mamaguy"
talk and be satis ied with plati-
Their ultimate plan is to pro-
mote registration for congres-
sional elections later this year
among their generation.
The stated intention of the
young people is to demand a
commitment to gun control pol-
icies of those who they would
But while these millions of
young Americans and further
millions of people all over the
world were screaming for free-
dom, participation, and the
transformation of society and its
values, Presidents Xi, Putin, and
Donald Trump were pushing for
total control of their countries.
In America, President Trump
through policy, dogma, and
texts is angling for the one per
cent to take even greater and
tighter control of America and
the resources of the society.
The positions adopted by the
big three---Xi, Putin, and Trump---
and those in the comfortable
economic and social classes with
much to defend will severely test
the stated commitment of the
youth to achieve change.
I utilise the American situation
to highlight our condition here
in T&T, the Caribbean, and else-
where, where the old politics of
blind followship of leaders and
their parties has not delivered.
Two weeks ago my column
advocated that those support-
ers of the two major parties,
suf iciently conscious of the re-
ality that notwithstanding the
trillion-plus dollars (a signi i-
cant percentage in US dollars)
collected and available to suc-
ceeding governments to trans-
form the society and economy,
the PNM and UNC have shown
themselves incapable of the
The column noted too, that
sitting on the margins is not an
effective option for those of us
not wanting to be smeared by
party politics. Clinging to a party
is not the only way to become in-
volved in political change.
In T&T, the two major move-
ments for change of the social,
economic, and political status
quo (1937 and 1970) began with
a few with limited ambitions and
even fewer resources.
A few dozen workers in oil
and sugar (1937) determined to
achieve change in their condi-
tion of squalor and dehumani-
In 1970, a disparate band
of university students, unem-
ployed and desperate urban
youth, trade union leaders, a
few radical academics came to-
gether with a notion of initiating
change to the historical condi-
tion of the marginalized.
The kind of intervention being
advocated, that of meaningful
people participation in govern-
ment, has a dynamic of its own.
We experienced "Kamlama-
nia", and the hope presented by
political alignments among par-
ties, labour, and social segments
of the society; that turned into a
A return to the PNM after
the 2010 2015 experience has
proven half-way through the
term to be leading to a dead end.
A signi icant section of the
American population is invest-
ing in youth and Mueller to
bring about widespread change,
including that of race relations.
People participation and the
emergence of quality leadership
across the society have to be our
Dr Hamid Ghany
It is apparent that the T&T delegation
to the OAS was in favour of giving
Dominica the two-year waiver
however, the ambassador sought
guidance from the ministry itself
(not the kind of thing that a rogue
diplomat would do). He apparently
got his directive and he faithfully
complied with it. Now we hear that
that was a "misrepresentation."
We experienced "Kamlamania",
and the hope presented by political
alignments among parties, labour,
and social segments of the society;
that turned into a fragmented
disaster. A return to the PNM after
the 2010-2015 experience has proven
half-way through the term to be
leading to a dead end.
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