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APOLOGISE TO KAMLA

Ministers Rambachan, Moonilal: 'Jamaica Observer' editorial on 'ethnic stocking' an attack on T&T Govt...

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

The Jamaica Observer newspaper owes Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the people of this country an apology.

This was the position yesterday of Government Ministers Dr Suruj Rambachan and Dr Roodal Moonilal who told the Express that the newspaper's editorial was an attack on the Government and the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

National Security Minister Jack Warner has also described the editorial as an attack on the government.

The Jamaica Observer on Tuesday published an editorial entitled "The more important issue is abuse of substance".

The editorial took note of former government minister Verna St Rose Greaves' allegation that the Prime Minister had an issue which was interpreted to be a substance abuse problem—which Persad-Bissessar refuted.

The editorial stated that the abuse of substance in the form of "ethnic stocking" was a greater problem in this country.

"The real problem in the energy-rich republic is not substance abuse, but the abuse of substance. By that we mean the abuse of the substance of government business because of the ethnic stocking of public offices and the widespread perception of corruption," stated the editorial.

"Notwithstanding Minister Jack Warner, the current Government of Trinidad and Tobago has systematically practised ethnic stocking; rewarding individuals with positions even though they (are) not qualified, either by professional training or by pertinent transferable work experience," it added.

The editorial stated that there was need for this country to conduct a parliamentary review of appointees to local and overseas posts.

This country's High Commissioner to Jamaica, Rev Dr Iva Gloudon, also issued a statement to the newspaper on Wednesday expressing disappointment and regret over the editorial.

The Express obtained a copy of Gloudon's statement which was sent to the Jamaica Observer which read:

"As the High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago to Jamaica, let me first respectfully say that in my experience, there are times when shouting across the Caribbean Sea does not help a cause. I must, therefore, use this opportunity to say, softly, that it is with regret and disappointment that I read the Jamaica Observer's editorial of Tuesday 11, November, 2012 "The Abuse of Substance".

"My main concern is that so much of what was said lacked, among other things, respect and an overall understanding of the complexity of Governance in the Caribbean. When logic and empirical evidence are not presented one often resorts to generalisations which can become inflammatory."

She added that after two years in Jamaica, she has experienced enough to know "that the views expressed in this editorial hardly reflect the sentiment of the Government or the people of Jamaica. Our two countries remain strategic to the ideals of Caribbean unity and integration.

"Pointing the proverbial finger at each other is not the answer. We must respect each other. We must be sensitive to each Most importantly, institutions such as yours must be used to inform, educate and examine our countries and our region in ways that, in the end, would bring about the cohesiveness that is necessary for us to make significant impact in the current and future global environment," stated Gloudon.

In an interview with the Express, Rambachan stated: "What happened is extremely unfortunate, I think a fair-minded newspaper and a fair-minded board of directors of that newspaper would seek to find the truth which is quite opposite to what they wrote and in that context I think they should apologise to the honourable Prime Minister and the people of this country."

Rambachan said, "It was very unfortunate that the newspaper has chosen to write an editorial that lacks facts and truth and goes further to attack a democratically-elected Government that has the constitutional majority."

Rambachan stressed that the Persad-Bissessar-led Government fully respects the people's right to fair and full employment.

He noted it was this Government that established the Equal Opportunity Commission, adding that the election victory in 2010 signalled that the People's Partnership was able to attract all religious persuasions and ethnicities.

"We recognise that there are elements in this country who are not in favour with this Government and on a daily basis these elements stir issues to create a psychology of instability in the country, hoping that it would stick and they are using their Caribbean contacts in order to carry out their dirty work," said Rambachan.

"Fortunately they have all failed and they will continue to fail because at the end of the day people will judge us by our quality of delivery and our fair and equitable governance," he added.

Moonilal, who is acting as Foreign Affairs Minister for Winston Dookeran who is attending a conference in Ecuador, told the Express that he endorses Rambachan's statements and the statement issued by Gloudon.

"I agree that the Jamaica Observer owes the Prime Minister and the people an apology," said Moonilal.

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