Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Newsday Editorial: PM did right

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has doubtless done the right thing by handing over to the police a batch of purported emails offered to the House of Representatives on Monday during a no confidence debate against the Government.

Opposition Leader, Dr Keith Rowley, read at length from what he deemed to be a very damaging series of emails between top members of Government including the PM, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Minister of Local Government Dr Suruj Rambachan and national security advisor, Gary Griffith.

However the million-dollar question, at the crux of this whole affair is simply, are the emails genuine or bogus? Rowley presented the purported emails without in any way authenticating them. Why during the six months Rowley had the purported documents, had he not consulted any expert in forensic ICT to either verify or nullify the supposed emails, we ask?

The purported emails referred to a lot of “old talk” that had already been circulating on the Internet. The supposed authors of the emails have denied ever having written them, with Persad-Bissessar saying the emails sent in her name had been fabricated, and so had the others. She recalled a recent incident where someone had forged her signature on a letter to award health-sector contracts.

In our view Rowley has sought to have his cake and eat it, by presenting these damaging allegations but then telling the House, “I take no ownership of this”, but instead merely saying the purported emails had come to him via some “box” from some unstated “source”. Speaker Wade Mark, quite rightly in our view, ruled that Rowley must take “ownership and full responsibility” for them.

Mark said that when an MP presents anything to the House such a presentation is deemed to be his word, not that of anyone else such as any “source”.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of Rowley to prove his claim that the emails are true. The Government does not have to do anything to disprove their veracity, but rather Rowley must bring proof of his claim. We await to see if and how he intends to do so.

In his presentation, Rowley read out from the alleged emails certain statements about the private life of a news reporter. We don’t know if the emails are valid or not, and we don’t know whether the things said about the reporter are true or not. However, it was scandalous in the extreme for a man who aspires to become the prime minister of this country to come to Parliament to publicly say such things about a female reporter, whether true or false. 

The reporter has certainly been made a sacrificial lamb, by the remarks made about her family history and medical history, all of which have no place in the public domain, and make no mistake about it, Dr Rowley has to take full responsibility for the revelations he made. 

The making of such remarks, whether true or false, is totally unconscionable, in our opinion, and reflected very badly on Rowley. Reading out the purported emails in his speech, Rowley quoted a very derogatory word used to debase females, and in our view he should have been reined in then and there by Speaker Wade Mark. 

We note that the Speaker later said that he would expunge certain unparliamentary language from the Hansard record of the sitting. As said, the source of this offensive language was unsubstantiated emails, for which Rowley should not have had carte blanche to spout. In fact he has since been challenged by AG Ramlogan to repeat his words outside of Parliament and its protection of privilege.

It was indeed a scandalous day in the House as no-one can actually prove any such exchange of emails between any of the alleged Ministers. Daily we receive dozens of emails in our newsroom about everybody in high office in this nation. It is our duty and responsibility to exercise judgment or face the courts for libel.

The point underlying all of this is that anyone can create an email, even as the email accounts of all of us remain vulnerable to hacking. In fact in the past two months, several Cabinet Ministers have had their email accounts hacked, as shown by bogus begging letters sent to persons on their mailing lists by fraudsters.

Even as we await the results of any police investigation into the purported emails, it seems this whole episode could end up damaging Rowley more than the Government.

(Reproduced unedited from NEWSDAY)

No comments:

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