Martin Daly____Use

Senior Counsel: Martin Daly

The People’s National Movement (PNM) campaigned in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election obsessively on the issue of the suitability of Watson Duke for office, and lost comprehensively. Days later, it began trying to discredit the winning party by reference to Duke’s alleged conflicts of interest.

The court will decide on the validity of the Attorney General’s (the AG) continuing pursuit of Watson Duke’s alleged conflicts of interest in public law litigation, shortly after the PNM’s thumping defeat, even after Chief Secretary Farley Augustine dealt with the issue and Duke reportedly resigned from the offices with the potential for conflict in his position in the Tobago House of Assembly.

“Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.”

Applying the biblical holier-than-thou reference to the AG is appropriate because there is continuing public controversy about the AG’s fingers being in so many pies, while at the same time being piously concerned about the pies in which other persons have their fingers.

I have given professional advice regarding an aspect of the MV Ocean Pelican gathering, in which the police intervened and which is currently featured every day in the media.

My advice has nothing to do with what interaction may have gone on between the AG and the Minister of Health and Mr Adrian Scoon, himself the son of another Cabinet member and the operator of the MV Ocean Pelican.

I feel able therefore to record the prevailing disquiet felt by many citizens with the frolics of those privileged to have direct lines to members of the Cabinet. The average citizen does not have the privilege of such a direct line, even if the advice the citizen might wish to seek is merely “general advice”.

The AG apparently does not have good sea legs, that is, the ability to walk steadily on a tossing ship. Currently, he is unsteady about the Ocean Pelican incident. Some months ago, he was stumbling around the presence of Christian Chandler on Chandler’s yacht, Knot Guilty, offering plausibility why Chandler was at sea on the day when his yacht was intercepted by the Coast Guard.

Many citizens think the Government is tying itself into guilty knots by a lack of detachment from the social scene, and a failure to understand the basic principles of potential for conflict of interest, given the high office its members hold.

Only last week I wrote that complicity may sink the Trinidad ship. Now they are rubbing our noses in it. The links of certain members of the Government are validating the view that the PNM has drifted from its moorings among ordinary people.

Our descent into something like a feudal system is now plainly and brazenly exposed. Our powerful look down at the disadvantaged, sometimes categorising them as pipers and cockroaches.

They do not care about the ketch-tail circumstances of those who are obliged to give political homage in order to get something from State resources.

I am particularly wound up about the crushing of the entertainment and creative sector, while the all-inclusive luxury boys and girls romp away and the rulers’ only care is to hug up with them.

I know of a credible cultural foundation which was made to call off an outdoor evening of musical performance because it was ruled that an outdoor venue at a heritage site could not be permitted to be a safe zone.

By contrast, the Minister of Health is allegedly seeing safe-zone potential in party boats, but he cannot clarify what is reported about him in connection with the MV Ocean Pelican because he has been given legal advice to shut up about this.

How very convenient, and frankly weaselling, for a personage who normally blathers on about everything in respect of which he thinks he can blame or lecture us.

In the current atmosphere of distrust, does the Prime Minister seriously expect to succeed with legislation and the necessary supporting communication to effect the Government’s long overdue vaccination policy, particularly as there is still no mention of amending the Industrial Relations Act in the confusing utterances about the proposed safe zones for public service and State sector employees?

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