The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in its published judgment in relation to allegations of bribery against former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam, had this to say about Jack Warner:
• "Mr Warner is an unreliable witness, and anything he has said in relation to the matters before the panel is to be treated with caution."
• "Mr Warner appears to be prone to an economy with the truth,….He has made numerous statements as to events that are contradicted by other persons, and his own actions are marked by manifest and frequent inconsistency."
• "It is unable to place any particular weight or reliance on any statement made by Mr Warner, or alleged to have been made by him."
• "There is ample evidence that Mr Warner ran a secret US dollar bank account in which he co-mingled CFU and personal funds."
• "There was evidence that an official employed at the Ministry of Works and Transport was sent to Piarco airport to welcome Bin Hammam in May 2011."
It is a fact that in our 50 years of independence we the citizens of this country have been no strangers to embarrassment and shame being visited upon us by virtue of the actions and conduct of our elected officials.
We have had ministers of government run the biggest cockfight rings when that activity was clearly illegal. We have had ministers kill our national bird, a protected species, because they liked to eat its meat. We have had a prime minister found consorting with a high class prostitute paid for by a foreign oil company.
We have had ministers and prime ministers stumble around drunk to the gills in official receptions. We have had ministers and prime ministers fathering children outside of their marriage and who could forget that we have had a prime minister give his wife a ministerial position in his cabinet and ask "What wrong with that?"
And, of course, we have had corruption in every size, shape and form. We have had Swiss bank accounts, London bank accounts, apartments in Toronto and condos in Miami.
But until now we have never had a minister, a Minister of National Security to boot, described by an international court of repute as essentially a liar and a crook. The CAS, we must recognise, is no fly-by-night institution. It is regarded as the Supreme Court for world sport and over the years (it was founded in 1984) has built a sterling reputation for expertise and objectivity. So when it speaks in judgment we should listen and take heed.
Some weeks ago, after Mr Warner's egregious breach of the Constitution in calling out armed soldiers to deal with a civilian protest, I called on the Prime Minister to immediately relieve him of his portfolio and remove him from the Government. I was, along with a number of others making such a call, ignored by the Prime Minister.
Today I renew that call to the Prime Minister to remove Mr Warner from his current portfolio and from the Government. It simply cannot be that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago could allow such a man to continue to hold such an office and still seek to describe our country as a country committed to and respectful of the rule of law and still seek to promote T&T on the international stage as a serious and sovereign nation.
Our Prime Minister must understand that in this matter, more than in any other, her choice is a defining one. If she chooses to keep Mr Warner, not only in the Cabinet but in his current ministerial portfolio, she would be sending a powerful signal to the citizens of this country and to the world at large that her Government is naught but a consortium of shady characters and that she is happy to be the presiding genius of such.
If our Prime Minister refuses now to cashier Mr Warner it would mean that she has taken a decision to put her party's political contracts and considerations above the reputation of the country. If our Prime Minister fails now to remove Mr Warner it could only be that she has lost all sense of shame.
Shame is the flipside of honour and pride. Shame, you see, is what you feel when your actions, or the actions of those who represent you, fail to meet and live up to the standards of behaviour and values which you publicly espouse as holding dear. But if you have no honour and no pride and subscribe set of values then you cannot feel ashamed.
Today I feel ashamed to be the citizen of a country run by a Government of which Jack Warner is a part. I feel ashamed because his presence in our Government reduces us to the same level as the numerous micro-states which litter the world and which are little more than the vassals of international mafias.
I feel ashamed. Madam Prime Minister do you?
• Michael Harris has been for many years a writer and
commentator on politics
and society in Trinidad and the wider Caribbean. He is a
long-standing member of the
Tapia House Group and works as a human resource executive.