Saturday, February 24, 2018

Waiting for reports

The police investigation into a report lodged by Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight attendant Ronelle Laidlow about the alleged inappropriate behaviour of Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, is ongoing, so the content of this article will not trespass on matters which have to be determined by those who are mandated to find the truth about the circumstances of the incident.

Whether or not Ms Laidlow chooses to pursue the matter, the fact remains that once again, the conduct of a minister of this Government has been called into question and the population awaits the manner in which this apparent “blue-eyed” member of the People’s Partnership will be treated by his leader. From all accounts, the minister is satisfied with his handling of the matter and appears unperturbed by the mounting pressure for him to resign.

That the Prime Minister has refused to comment or take action before being presented with all the relevant reports in the matter is not surprising because she is an attorney-at-law who is well acquainted with the doctrine of presumption of innocence, due process and the rules of natural justice.

But this incident is not restricted to the application of the principles of law which have on many occasions been conveniently used by politicians to turn a blind eye to wrong conduct provided that such conduct is not illegal.

In a society that is wanting for suitable role models and mentors, it is unfortunate that politicians do not realise that their behaviour is used as the benchmark of tolerable conduct and young people, especially, are adhering to the concept that “as long as an action is not unlawful, it is acceptable”.

So while we focus on reducing criminal activity, improving public health care and addressing all other issues that are plaguing our country, we must not lose sight of perhaps the gravest danger we face — the creation of generations who will find no merit in extolling or upholding the societal values necessary for the well-being of this nation.

The reports of violence in schools across the country speak of the heightened rage among the young population and there is an urgent need to contain behaviour that is literally blowing out of proportion.

No law-abiding citizen is safe when there is the real possibility of persons losing their cool in any environment including planes. 

And what makes matters worse is the abuse meted out to individuals who act in accordance with the applicable law, rules and regulations in order to ensure the safety and security of all the people who occupy the shared space. 

What is equally alarming is the rapid resort by some of the subjects of allegations to Government-friendly programmes in a bid to put their case to the public and justify their actions.

And what really boggles the mind is when the accused is able to twist the story and become the victim instead of the villain.

The Westminster system of government with all its shortfalls does enable the Prime Minister to use a firm hand and send a powerful message to the nation that she is in charge of her brood and will not allow the errant behaviour of one of her chicks — even if particularly favoured — to promote the perception that anything goes in her nest.

The Prime Minister is no fool and her political instincts must be tingling, alerting her that there is political danger around the corner if she handles this matter inappropriately.

And while a section of the population has already written off the Prime Minister and her administration as a failed regime, there are factions that live in the hope that this Government will be able to pull up its socks in order to gain victory at the 2015 polls.

But the repeated political faux pas of this regime and the apparent lack of remorse for its transgressions make it difficult for any right thinking citizen to have faith that they will — as Minister Winston Dookeran loves to say — “get the politics right”.

As an aside, this is another example of the Congress of the People (COP) not taking a firm stand on a matter which calls for candour and up to press time, preferring a diplomatic cop-out.

Perhaps this is what Dookeran means by “walking in the rain and not getting wet”.

The general secretary of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj who seems to have significant influence with the top brass of the Partnership, has called on Dr Ramadharsingh to resign or, alternatively, for him to be fired. The latter of course is the sole prerogative of the Prime Minister.

Mr Maharaj has gone on record as stating that Dr Ramadharsingh is “an embarrassment…a liability… a poor role model”.

Perhaps Mr Maharaj is aware of the falling popularity of this Government and its real risk of losing at the polls if drastic action is not taken by its leader to rid the regime of its political nuisances and repeat offenders of the “right politics”.

Whatever the outcome, Dr Ramadharsingh has definitely learnt one or two things from his leader — one being, encouraging the nation to “move on” when in his view the matter has been resolved and — I will only comment on the second when all the reports are in. 

—Gillian Lucky is an attorney-at-law and presenter of the television programme Just Gill.