Sunday, April 28, 2013

Guest commentary: Saints and sinners - by Dr Hamid Ghany

Dr Hamid Ghany
The ongoing investigative stories about Jack Warner in the Express when combined with the date of delivery of the Concacaf Integrity Commission report produced a lethal cocktail that was so potent that it led to the resignation of Jack Warner from the Cabinet and the chairmanship of the UNC. 

This column is being written prior to a public meeting being hosted by Warner in his constituency on Thursday night.

(Editor's note: Jack Warner announced his resignation as MP at that meeting and handed in his resignation on Friday to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.)

In the midst of the Express stories and the Concacaf meeting in Panama two Fridays ago, there was also a visit by the Prime Minister to Washington. There have been all kinds of reports about her mood and her decision, as well as conspiracy theories about why she did not dismiss him as opposed to accepting his offer of resignation.

In politics, timing is everything. The revelations take us back to the 1990s and all through the first decade of this millennium through the election of this Government. The PNM used some of this material during the 2010 general election campaign against Warner and the newly-formed People’s Partnership that was campaigning for elections.

Up to the Friday before the general election, the 2006 Soca Warriors were in the news about their claims against Warner and the TTFF. 

Who was listening? Now everybody wants to listen. 

The reality is that there were powerful forces inside and outside the PNM who wanted to use the early general election as a means of removing Patrick Manning from power.

Manning lost and he was rudely chased out of Balisier House shortly thereafter. The mission had been accomplished, but the same information was available about Jack Warner. However, the priority at the time was Manning.

During the election campaign, the PNM tried to get a live feed about a press conference that UK journalist Andrew Jennings was having in the USA at a conference. The local advertising agency that was handling the PNM campaign could not get the link and a trail of e-mails was leaked into the public domain about the affair.

All of this is not new. But Jack has fallen after Manning. Who will be next? Who are today’s saints in public life with questions about them that have not been selected for immediate exposure but will be held for when they get into office? 

Are there any possible leaders among us who may have had controversial matters temporarily shelved because they cannot be handled fully, but only parked up for now because of technicalities and will be released with a vengeance at a future date.

What was Jack Warner’s sin that these well-known allegations were bundled and rolled out in such a decisive manner? Is he alone? Who else in the corporate world has done exactly the same thing and has survived? 

There have been theories from the inability of Fifa to deliver World Cup venues to the UK and the USA for 2018 and 2022, to his decision to back Bin Hammam against Blatter in 2011, to him becoming an inconvenient truth for some elements in this Government. 

Whatever it is, he now has to map out a new political strategy if he wants to stay in the political game, otherwise he may decide to just walk away from everything.

There are tons of allegations and no charges. There is the world of Fifa and its corporate culture of buying and selling influence for the award of sites and venues for major world football events.

While all of this lobbying is considered par for the course in moving money around the globe through the legal banking systems, with full authorisation being granted at every step of the way, and well-known auditing and accounting firms with big names blessing all of this in the name of good corporate governance, what could make Jack Warner a sinner and leave others as saints?

Perhaps a peep into where all of this is going may lie in a comment made by Senator Rolph Balgobin who suggested that the UNC had been funded on questionable money. 

That line of argument is likely to open a firestorm of controversy as the same questions may very well be asked about other political parties who received large sums of money from corporate entities who are under scrutiny at the moment.

If Balgobin’s comment about campaign financing is pursued, we may start digging out all kinds of historical documents now that the field of play has been widened to take us back to the 1990s. 

One good place to start might be the circular letter that was sent to Republic Bank shareholders by the former chairman of Republic Bank, Frank Barsotti, back in July 1996, urging shareholders to reject the attempt by Clico to take over the board of directors of Republic Bank.

Balgobin’s dialogue may be an important intervention as it may not be as one-sided as the reporting in the media has made it out to be. He might be on to something which can open the door to a wider dialogue that goes way beyond his anti-UNC rhetoric.

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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