TIME TO ACCOUNT
By DENYSE RENNE Monday, June 25 2012
JACK WARNER has hit the ground running. Although he will be formerly sworn in today as National Security Minister, this has not stopped Warner from already summoning heads of all arms of the National Security Ministry to a high-powered meeting scheduled for tomorrow.
“I have summoned them all. I want to know what they have done and what they have failed to do, I want to know what are some of the obstacles they are facing,” Warner said yesterday as he visited his old office at the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure to clear away his desk.
Warner was one of three major, surprise announcements named by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as she revealed her Cabinet reshuffle via a press conference last Friday at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s. The other two were career banker Larry Howai being named Finance Minister and San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray, as Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development.
During a brief interview, in between packing away his personal items into a large Crix box, Warner said tomorrow’s meeting will include heads of Prison, Fire, Police, Defence Force (including the Air Guard, Regiment and Coast Guard), Immigration and the Strategic Services Agency (SSA).
Warner said the time has come when agencies tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the nation’s security, be made to account for their progress or lack of progress. Warner said there are several initiatives he will be seeking to put in place to ensure citizens in this country are safe once more.
Adding that the security agencies need to be made accountable for the mechanisms which they have in place for securing the country, Warner said he expects tomorrow’s meeting to be intense as he calls on the security chiefs to account.
“I want to know where they have failed and how we can move on from there and make things better,” Warner said adding that he plans on getting advice internally and externally on various security mechanisms. Such advice, Warner said, will assist in ensuring that the country has a security blanket which will ensure criminal elements think twice before breaking or seeking to break the law. “I plan on keeping the country protected at all times and my assault on crime will be from land, sea and air.”
Of Warner’s appointment as National Security Minister, Persad-Bissessar said she expects results from him as he is an “action man”. For the year so far, there have been 199 murders. Over the weekend and up to press time yesterday, since Warner’s announcement as National Security Minister, there were no murders reported.
However, his appointment has not been without controversy, attracting condemnation from several quarters in society particularly from the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) especially as Warner may still be the subject of an investigation by the Customs and Excise Department over a meeting he and then FIFA executive Mohammed bin Hammam held in Trinidad at the time when bin Hammam was challenging FIFA president Sepp Blatter for the presidency of the world football governing body.
Asked to comment on claims by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley that he is too submerged in controversy, to be appointed to such a sensitive post, Warner said, “Rowley needs to judge me by my service. I remain unfazed by what he said.”
Asked whether other regional and international intelligence agencies will feel comfortable sharing intelligence information with TT, based on the fact that the new National Security Minister was in the recent past embroiled in alleged FIFA corruption, Warner dismissed such insecurities.
“I maintain that FIFA business is FIFA business and Trinidad and Tobago business is Trinidad and Tobago business. FIFA has no interest in T&T politics,” Warner said. Saying he was at FIFA for 39 years, Warner added that during his tenure as FIFA vice president, “at no point can FIFA point fingers at me.”
Warner told Newsday he plans on meeting with the executive of the Police Social Welfare Association later this week to come up with solutions”, to make the Police Service a better and more cohesive unit.
Responding to this, president of the association Sgt Anand Ramesar welcomed Warner’s intentions. “We welcome this move by Mr Warner and we are ready to meet with him,” Ramesar said. “Such a meeting indicates to us a paradigm shift. For quite some time we have been challenging the 21st century policing initiative and spent quite some time with the challenges and taking the complaints to the Commissioner of Police,” Ramesar said.
Adding that the top cop has failed in trying to implement crime fighting mechanisms, Ramesar said the newly appointed Security Minister has cleared a path where, “we believe we can have a positive impact in reducing crime.”
Noting the association has been working on a crime plan which will be extended to Warner, Ramesar said that for far too long, police officers have been calling for the involvement of the National Security Minister in combatting crime.
Minister in the National Security Ministry Collin Partap has retained his position and is expected to work closely with the new National Security Minister. Several attempts by Newsday to reach outgoing National Security Minister retired Brigadier John Sandy, proved futile.