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Respect the office of the President

Thursday, January 12 2017

THE EDITOR: I have been following with interest the so-called controversies involving President Anthony Carmona and the Office of the President (OTP). Many of the issues raised in the public domain seem to have been explained and no longer disputable, while one continued to be pursued in spite of an explanation.

That one, has to do with the $28,000 housing allowance. Before I go any further, let me interject, that we are talking about The President (whoever he or she may be) __ the highest office holder in our Republic and the flagship bearer of this country. An office, we as citizens, journalists included, must not treat with scant courtesy. Not because some of President Carmona’s critics seem not to be schooled in manners, we all must behave the same way. If we have to comment or question the actions of the office holder, in this case President Carmona, then let us do it as professionals and not as rabble-rouser.

It seems to me the way we have been behaving is nothing short of persecuting this president. Let us not follow other countries, we, especially editors, must ensure these high standards are kept, moreso, for the prosperity of the upcoming generation.

It is common knowledge that the President cannot respond every Monday morning to allegations made against him or his office . The office does not allow the President to get into a tit-for-tat sparing with someone. A good example of presidential decorum was President Carmona not responding to Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s response to him (PM) being informed of a meeting called by the President with the Minister of National Security and other top security personnel.

As a result, the President and his office become soft targets.

Politicians and knowledgeable citizens are the ones who should be defending the OTP, sorting out relevant information that may have missed fatigued journalists or mal informed members of the public.

I believe Independent Senators should not remain mum in matters like these. They need to ascertain the truth and speak out on their findings.

The President has responded to matters raised in the public domain he believes he should respond to, and if certain parties are not satisfied and need to pursue some of the matters further, then they must do it with the required decorum and not turn it into a persecution.

Some people are under the misguided impression or are deliberately being fed the erroneous or twisted information that the President can allocate money to himself as in the present circumstances.

This is far from the truth, he cannot. For example, monies for his travels must be approved by Cabinet and his housing allowance must be approved by agencies such as the Auditor General’s Office. If there is an issue with that allocation, as it is, then as the Prime Minister suggested, it is the Auditor General that must explain the circumstances that led to the allocation - not the President. I believe an explanation on the housing allowance was given and it had to do with the inadequate and deplorable conditions of the Flagstaff house the President and his family were being housed in. That house, if I remember the report correctly, was intended for only three months but the president’s family had to endure some 18 months instead.

Whether the President was entitled or not to the allocation is a matter that will have to be properly determined with all the facts and not by an attorney sitting in London and opined on limited information.

What is disturbing through, is whether that London based attorney’s opinion, founded on limited information, was intended for publication.

If that attorney did in fact sanction release of that opinion to the public, especially in a matter impacting negatively on a sitting head of state of a foreign country, may have triggered ethical consequences.

Not only is Carmona the President of a country with republican status but he was also a judge locally and with the International Criminal Court (ICC). He is also a Senior Counsel which is the same as a Queen’s Counsel and should have been given such respect and not treated with contempt.

We could disagree but let us respect each other.

Dr Robert William s via email

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