PM UNDER FIRE:
I didn’t know
Irene Medina Associate ditor
Independent Liberal Party (ILP) Interim political leader, Jack Warner, maintained yesterday that while he sat in the People’s Partnership Cabinet he was not aware of the level of “graft” that was taking place.
Warner was at the time being interviewed by TV6 Morning Edition host Fazeer Mohammed
Told that this was highly “impossible” since he was a high-profile member, chairman of the United National Congress, one of the main players to getting the People’s Partnership into government and was promoted to the Minister of National Security, Warner said, “As a minister I was not aware that many of my colleagues were in graft and especially graft at the level they are in today. I want to go further, was I aware of a particular minister, who I knew was demanding a cut, a percentage from fees, I went to the Prime Minister and complained to her, and she said she will deal with it. That is all that I know. I was perhaps politically naive but I really was not aware.
“I did not know then what I know now, I would not have been there If I knew the things I know now. That is what pains me with (Winston) Dookeran and (Prakash) Ramadhar because they know now but to stay there and take that stench even today, I blame them for that...”
Warner made reference to a situation some time ago, where he claimed that after a political meeting in San Fernando, a government official whom he named, called certain contractors and demanded millions from them. Cautioned that his comments were serious allegations, Warner said, “I have the fact. I have photos, I am not here to besmirch anybody’s characters.”
Mohammed immediately distanced the station from the allegations saying, “We, certainly TV6 and this programme has no information, no corroboration of this information.”
Warner immediately fell in line, saying, “I will temper what I have to say but I won’t use your programme to do this,” to which Mohammed replied, “You may like court, Mr Warner, but I ‘fraid court bad, bad, bad.”
In the aftermath of last Monday’s local government elections in which the “game changer” — the neophyte Independent Liberal Party (ILP) failed to win any of the 14 boroughs and corporations, Mohammed, in a candid interview with Warner, questioned him about the future of the party and the party’s chances in the St Joseph by-election due on November 4.
Warner said the ILP’s non-performance was not a “setback”, but merely a disappointment.
“While there may have been some disappointments, as I said on Monday this party is the third political force and no other party in this country as a third political force has had a higher percentage than we have had. Here you have a party that is just four months old, getting less than 25,000 votes than the ruling party. This speaks volumes. We have a lot to be thankful for.”
As to whether an accommodation between the UNC and the ILP is on the cards, Warner said he was not ruling out anything.
Reminded of his earlier positions, he said “yesterday is yesterday and today is today” when Mohammed questioned on whether there is a “possibility” of an alliance.
“Well, I have not closed my mind to any possibility except to say I heard on television and read in today’s newspapers where the PM said she will not bargain with any criminals. So I assume she means the ILP and the PNM, she lumped both of us as criminals, because we both have four seats each,” he said.
He, however, slammed Persad-Bissessar for her statements, saying, “..but that party that has put up a criminal in St Joseph”, referring to Ian Alleyne’s conviction on a charge of airing the rape of a 13-year-old girl on television.