TAJMOOL HOSEIN QC HAS DIED
...he was the last survivor of the Malborough House Conference
QUEENS Counsel Tajmool Hosein has died.
Hosein was the last member of the delegation that attended the
famed Malborough House conference in England in 1962 to formulate the constitution, ahead of the country gaining its
He was also a member of the Board of One Caribbean Media (OCM),
parent company to the Trinidad Express and TV6.
Hosein, 92, was the father of attorney Faarees Hosein who is also a board member of Caribbean Communications Network (CCN).
OCM's Group Chief Executive Officer Dawn Thomas said Hosein was a founding director and investor of the Trinidad Express.
"He served as Chairman for several years with distinction and has contributed in a meaningful way to the success of the Express. His passing is a great loss to Trinidad and Tobago" said Thomas.
Originally from Williamsville near Princes Town, Hosein qualified as a barrister in 1946 and became an expert in constitutional law.
In 1961, he joined the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and stood as a candidate for Chaguanas in the elections that year. He won the seat and served as Member of Parliament for Chaguanas between 1961 to 1966.
Hosein was awarded Silk in 1964 and the Trinity Cross in 1982.
He declined the offer to become Chief Justice, and President
of the Caribbean Court of Justice, according to those close to him.
Last May, Express writer Louis B Homer secured a rare interview
with Hosein related to his role in 1962.
He is the only one alive who attended the Independence conference in England in May 1962 that ushered in our Independence on August 31, 1962, after Jamaica pulled out of the West Indies Federation and became independent in 1962.
Jamaica was among ten West Indian islands belonging to the ill-fated 1958 Federation. When Jamaica pulled out, Trinidad and Tobago followed suit, with Trinidad and Tobago's Premier Dr Eric Williams famously announcing, "One from ten leaves nought."
That statement signaled the start of Trinidad and Tobago's political Independence from Britain. The first step leading to Independence was a meeting at Marlborough House, London, where an Independence conference was held. Those taking part were representatives of the government headed by Dr Williams, the official Opposition headed by Dr Rudranath Capildeo and the Independents headed by Sir Patrick Hobson.
It was at that meeting in May 1962 that Trinidad and Tobago almost lost the opportunity to become an independent nation, when Capildeo had threatened to break up the conference and return to Trinidad empty-handed, but it was a level-headed Hosein who was able to steer the Independence ship to its safe moorings.
At the start of the conference, Capildeo, leader of the Opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP), "ranted and raved over issues alleging that Indians were discriminated against and were advocating more equitable treatment," recorded MP Lionel Seukeran, a member of the Opposition delegation that went to England to discuss Independence.
He said, "Capildeo was advocating proportional representation with quotas similar to what obtained in Kenya and Cyprus. When he (Capildeo) was told that such a plan was an internal matter to be discussed in the local Parliament he persisted in his demands and had to be told 'people were saying that you are a madman'."
So adamant was Capildeo on certain issues that he was told by other members of the DLP delegation, "If you insist in going in this vein, we would have no alternative but to fly home the next day."
Such was the prelude to the start of the Independence conference which began on May 28, 1962 at Marlborough House, London.
Seukeran said members of the Opposition laboured under severe disadvantages during the conference.
"Our greatest problem was our own leader, Rudranath Capildeo, who was incapacitated from an accident and was walking with the aid of crutches, spending a great deal of time in his suite at Piccadilly Hotel, where he was nursed by Stephen Maraj, a member of the DLP delegation," he stated.
Seukeran, now deceased, recalled, "During the pre-conference meeting Capildeo was always moody and short-tempered, denying consultations and refusing to advise or be advised.”
Seukeran said at the conference table Capildeo assumed an air of gloom designed to discourage any attempts at engaging him in conversion. "He sat with eyes closed and hands clasped"
Eventually it was Tajmool Hosein of the DLP who assumed the role of peacemaker and counsellor, and who brought about a rational understanding of what independence meant.
In a recent interview with the Express, Hosein said, " I did what was necessary to ensure that the conference was successful and that the people of Trinidad and Tobago would be the beneficiary of what arrangements we were about to embark upon."
Against such a background, Hosein said, "We sat from day to day examining every detail, every provision, and every loophole in the Constitution."
Seukeran recalled, "The conference convened each day, intent on carrying out its mandate. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Reginald Maudling, with his team of lawyers and advisers, the government of Trinidad and Tobago under the capable leadership of Ellis Clarke, and the Opposition with Tajmool Hosein QC outdoing himself in his astuteness."
"I was proud of Hosein, a man of few words, but one of the greatest constitutional lawyer in the hemisphere. The British lawyers were astounded at his perspicacity and articulation."
Hosein told the Express he had studied constitutional law after he graduated from Lincoln's Inn, and it was this that helped him to play such a meaningful role at the conference.
- Richard Charan (Multimedia Editor)