Sunday Express Editorial

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has once again got his wires crossed on the media.

Asked by this newspaper to comment on Opposition allegations regarding his purchase of a $1.2 million townhouse in Tobago, Dr Rowley responded with sarcasm, annoyance and deflection, before saying, “I am really not interested in anything they have to say about anything that I or my family PURCHASED.” (His emphasis).

On Wednesday, this newspaper reported the PM’s comment with the allegations made by UNC MP Saddam Hosein.

Lo and behold! On Friday, with the allegations picking up steam among Opposition supporters, Dr Rowley commandeered over an hour of broadcast time on State-owned TTT to deny the allegations, and present his evidence to deny the Opposition’s claim that he had failed to file information required under the Integrity in Public Life Act. Shockingly, he went on to accuse the media of facilitating the Opposition’s agenda to undermine the PNM’s campaign for tomorrow’s THA election by reporting its allegations.

We get that, for him, live TV with the freedom to bounce between his roles of Prime Minister and PNM political leader was preferable to answering the media’s questions. However, to refuse to comment and then question the media’s professionalism is simply galling.

In any case, notwithstanding the length of time at his disposal on Friday, Dr Rowley has still not provided a satisfactory response to the question of why he had not disclosed his property interests on the required form.

As he quite rightly noted, all persons covered under the Integrity in Public Life Act are required to fill out two forms: the highly confidential Form A, with detailed information on one’s income, assets and liabilities; and Form B, which requires a simple disclosure of all one’s properties and is available for public perusal.

The salient point is that Dr Rowley declared the Inez Gate property purchased in 2019 in Form A to the Integrity Commission, but not in Form B, to which the public has access.

In defending himself on Friday, Dr Rowley offered a different understanding of what Form B required, saying it involves areas of conflicting interest. Based on the instructions on the form, that is clearly not the case.

Perhaps, the most disturbing feature of Dr Rowley’s address was his criticism of the Integrity Commission. He seemed to think that the Integrity Commission should have come to his immediate defence, which was odd given his own initial refusal to defend himself.

Without hard evidence and a rush to judgment, he suggested that the confidential information he had filed in Form A had been leaked from within the Integrity Commission. The fact is that information about his Inez Gate purchase could have come from anyone. A simple check for it in the publicly available Form B would have revealed that it had not been listed.

Dr Rowley needs to tread very carefully in stirring suspicion about the Integrity Commission. We do not need a repeat of that shameful episode when chairman of the Integrity Commission, Dr Eric St Cyr, was hounded out of office by politicians in the People’s Partnership government.


It is no exaggeration to say that there is now no guaranteed safe place in Trinidad and Tobago.

We have moved from the stage of being prisoners in our homes behind metal bars to being afraid to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and even to sleep, for fear that if crime comes knocking we may have no recourse but to cower and beg for our lives. The society is being overpowered by the force of the criminal will with insufficient resources to resist and break that power.

The famous astronomer Carl Sagan once wrote, “There are naïve questions, tedious questions, ill phrased questions... But every question is a cry to understand the world. There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

The Prime Minister’s announcement of the formation of a ­review committee regarding the horrifying death toll from Covid-19 is the latest signal that we keep going from calamity to calamity. The announcement appeared as front-page news in this newspaper above the highlight of a report inside that police officers had interviewed the Minister of Finance, in what is called the “­Pelican Probe”.

The call to ban fireworks completely is a marker of how one-dimensional politicians and some members of the public can be in their thinking.

Surely, fireworks can be a nuisance, and much more for those wanting to rest, animals becoming disoriented and damaging themselves, fires being sparked on houses, and other problems and inconveniences that a singular event can cause—much like the noise and traffic of Carnival or a big sporting event, inter alia.

While the number of cases of Covid-19 is significantly lower in Tobago than it is in ­Trini­dad, and infection numbers have lagged behind those of the bigger sister island, the death and infection picture in Tobago remains a cause for concern, as does the increased rate of infection, especially over the past eight months.

Water continues to leak from WASA lines in many parts of Arima. Many of these leaks are older than seven months, where millions of gallons of valuable water are wasted away and no one in authority seems to care.