Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 1st 2013 Contents A5
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Health Minister Fuad Khan is
a case of a minister who has lost
his credibility, says Independent
Senator Prof Harold Ramkissoon.
"The honourable minister seems
to excel in sweeping things under
the carpet," Ramkissoon added,
while speaking about issues in the
He spoke about that during yes-
terday s Senate debate on a private
motion calling on Government to
reaffirm the principles of democ-
Ramkissoon said the minister
had promised an investigation into
the over-radiation of patients at
the Brian Lara Cancer Treatment
Centre. "But to date we don t have
a report, not a single person has
been held responsible and there
has been strong evidence, which
I brought to the Senate, with
respect to negligence bordering on
criminal negligence but to date no
one has been brought to justice,"
Ramkissoon said another situ-
ation was questions about T&T s
infant mortality rate. He said it
was 28 out of every 100,000 births
in T&T while it was only three in
Singapore and ten in Barbados.
He added: "We even had a case
this month---Sara Lutchman---and
the standard response you get from
the minister and health officials
when you ask them to account for
these deaths, is: We re investigat-
"Even if they investigated, get
a report, no one is brought to jus-
tice. No one has been held respon-
sible and there s evidence of
incompetence and negligence in
the Ministry of Health.
"And given the fact that the
medical fraternity is a close-knit
family, and I have no problem with
that, they try to protect their own.
"But in that case we should not
have a Minister of Health who is
a medical doctor. The honourable
minister is a case, an example of
a minister who, in my view, has
lost his credibility."
Ramkissoon said when "people
lose hope, dark clouds hover over
T&T s democracy. Democracy,
which was good governance, was
alive in T&T," though the question
was if it was well, and if so, what
Government was doing about it.
He said corruption perception
indexes indicated T&T s image in
the international arena was that it
was a "highly corrupt" state, and
after 50 years of Independence and
several governments, T&T must
break out of "mal-governance. We
can t continue the same old way.
People are getting tired."
He said the PP administration
promised to act and how deep its
commitment was remained to be
"But time isn t on their side,"
Ramkissoon advocated a mix of
representative and participatory
systems. Saying consultation and
dialogue were "almost non-exis-
tent," he urged referendums should
be included in constitutional
Commending Government on
the Ryan Report on crime, he said
that should not be a "dust-col-
lector on the shelf."
Ramkissoon, congratulating new
National Security Minister
Emmanuel George on "his ascen-
sion to the hot seat," called on him
to leave a legacy.
Senator: Fuad has
lost his credibility
Campaign financing issues are
a blot on the democratic process
and must be addressed as soon
as possible, Independent Senator
Dr James Armstrong has said.
"The evidence is quite current
and it disturbs me significantly,"
Armstrong said in yesterday s Sen-
He said he had become very
concerned about campaign financ-
ing in recent weeks. In the way
people came to power, he said, it
seemed clear "the more corn you
have, is the more fowl you going
Armstrong urged that campaign
reform should be placed on the
constitutional reform agenda. He
said senior counsel Dana Seetahal
had pointed out loopholes where
someone could be spending mil-
lions and not really account for it.
"This is a blot on our democratic
process we tout so proudly and it
must be addressed as soon as pos-
sible," he added.
Armstrong expressed concern
about the Tobago legislation prom-
ised and pronounced on by Gov-
ernment during January s Tobago
election and said he was concerned
about whether T&T was achieve-
ing equity and fairplay with gov-
ernance, especially following the
Apart from the Tobago legisla-
tion for internal self-government,
he said, statements were made
about devolution of some powers
and increased allocation: "I m really
surprised all this has died down
and we are hardly hearing anything
about it. This has not, in my view,
progressed in the way we antic-
ipated. I will request and urge it
be brought to the table again and
given adequate consideration," he
Armstrong said T&T has a free
press which he "quite enjoys," and
things that were aired in T&T by
the media could not have been
published in some of the other
places he had lived.
He said Government needed to
consider the transfer of resources
and funds to local government to
improve the system. (GA)
Armstrong concerned about
campaign financing $$$
After yesterday s three-hour sitting,
which debated a private motion
brought by Opposition Senator
Fitzgerald Hinds, the Upper House
was adjourned to a date to be fixed.
This means that both the House of
Representatives and the Senate have
been adjourned to a date to be fixed.
Acting Leader of Government Busi-
ness, National Security Minister
Emmanuel George, rose at the sched-
uled tea break to move the adjournment
to next Tuesday. He said debate was
expected to begin on the Anti-Doping
Hinds then inquired about the con-
tinuation of the debate on the Miscel-
laneous Provisions (Defence and Police
Complaints) Bill 2013. This prompted
George to make a correction. He then
moved the adjournment to a date to
"Nothing to debate? Nothing to
debate?" Hinds repeated as other sen-
ators left the chamber.
Up to late yesterday no announce-
ment had been made by the Govern-
ment about the resumption of sittings
of the House of Representatives, which
was adjourned last Friday.
At that sitting Jack Warner resigned
as MP for Chaguanas West. The seat
has not been declared vacant because
Warner s letter of resignation was to
be effective at midnight.
Sources said yesterday it would not
have been possible for the Speaker to
declare the seat vacant on that date
because the House was not in session
The T&T Guardian was also told
that it was not likely that the House
would be called into session on Friday.
It is more likely the House would meet
next week Friday and at that time
Mark would declare Warner s seat
It will be from that date that the 90-
day time limit for the calling of a by-
election will take effect and not the
date of Warner s resignation letter.
During yesterday s Senate debate on
a private motion calling on the Gov-
ernment to reaffirm its commitment
to democracy, Opposition Senator
Lester Henry criticised Warner for cer-
tain breaches as a minister when he
personally paid for an all expenses trip
to Jamaica for his then permanent sec-
retary Cheryl Blackman. Henry said
Warner undermined the public insti-
tutions by doing that.
Government Senator James Lambert
then asked: "What s wrong with that?"
Henry also said it was "a bribe" for
the same former minister to "top up
a public servant s salary, in a reference
to Warner s claim he had to give money
out of his own pocket to an employee
within his ministry recently.
"That is the exact definition of a
bribe," Henry told legislators.
Independent Senator Prof Harold
Dr James Armstrong
PNM Senator Dr Lester Henry, right, is congratulated by his parliamentary
colleagues---Senators Faris Al-Rawi, left, and Fitzgerald Hinds---after yesterday's
sitting of the Senate. PHOTO: ANDY HYPOLITE
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