Saturday, March 23, 2013

Letter: Should the Commission consider its own integrity?

Ricardo Phillips, left, shakes hands with Chief Communications and Public Relations officer at the Integrity Commission, Mervyn Crichlow after Phillip’s press conference at De Nu Pub, corner French and Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook Friday. GUARDIAN PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
In the last three years the Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago has seemingly developed an extraordinary proclivity towards conducting its affairs in the public. 

Its appetite and penchant for “making news” has apparently picked up momentum under the political leadership of Kamla PersadBissessar. A few years ago under a different political dispensation, the Integrity Commission was a virtual unknown. Today the Commission’s use of the ‘public sphere’ has taken new and unprecedented meaning.

Reports in the print media today, point to a press conference held by a former member of the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Board at which (according to one newspaper) the public relations officer of the Integrity Commission “unexpectedly turned up”. 

The press conference was held in relation to particular complaints made to the Commission by the former TTBBC member. 

So here it is, a complainant in a matter before the Integrity Commission convenes a seemingly private media briefing to re-invite the Commission’s intervention in his complaint and a senior official of the Commission is present. 

Not only does the Commission’s employee attend, but he answers questions as to which public officials may have been quizzed in this a very sensitive and confidential matter. 

One wonders whether this constitutes a flagrant and brazen disregard for the Integrity in Public Life Act, 2000; in particular section 9 which speaks to non-disclosure by not only members of the Commission but by “persons in the service of the Commission”.
One could never be in dispute with the role the Integrity Commission should play in safeguarding ethics and healthy corporate governance in public life and its obligation to communicate with the public. That role and that right however must also be observed within the strictures of the law. 

That the Integrity Commission is vested with powers to consider the conduct of “public officials” must also be construed in this instance to mean the conduct of its own employees and agents acting on its behalf.
Ashvani Mahabir | Cunupia

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai