‘Top cop did no wrong’
By Sasha Harrinanan Tuesday, August 28 2012
Acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) Stephen Williams was right to take a hands-on approach to the investigation into allegations that former Minister in the National Security Ministry Collin Partap refused to take a breathalyser test early Sunday morning after police suspected he was under the influence of alcohol.
Political scientist Dr Hamid Ghany said so in response to questions from Newsday yesterday evening, following a special general meeting of the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) at its headquarters, Fernandes Industrial Centre, Eastern Main Road, Laventille. “I think it was a situation that required the Commissioner to be present because Mr Partap was a Minister in the Ministry of National Security at the time of the incident,” Ghany stated. Asked if the Prime Minister’s actions served as a warning to other Government Members of Parliament, Ghany replied, “most probably that’s the reason why she did fire Mr Partap.”
The general consensus among politicians and ordinary citizens alike has been that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s decision yesterday to ask President George Maxwell Richards to revoke Partap’s ministerial appointment “with immediate effect” was the right and only course of action she could have taken.
Ghany shared these sentiments, telling Newsday, “I don’t think she could have done anything else in these circumstances. Once she was satisfied that situation was what it was, I don’t think the Prime Minister could have acted any other way.”
TTTI president Deryck Murray made a similar argument yesterday evening. However he said Persad-Bissessar’s actions, while commendable, would only truly be deserving of accolades if she were to take similar action in a consistent manner in the future.
“If this is something that is going to be consistent, then it’s something to be welcomed — that not even as ministers are you above the law.
The Prime Minister was within her rights to take action and it’s good to see that action is being taken on principle. One hopes that it will be applied consistently and with the same expeditious effect,” Murray stated.
On the political front, at least two Government Ministers said they agreed with the Prime Minister’s decision.
Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Ganga Singh and his Cabinet colleague, Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism, Dr Lincoln Douglas, both spoke to Newsday about the issue following a symbolic tree-planting ceremony; “50 Trees for 50 Years” of Independence, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine campus yesterday morning. Singh called Partap’s firing “a very tragic situation”, but noted the clear message being sent by the Prime Minister to all members of Government.
“You take responsibility for your actions. Only the highest level of responsibility is required from all those who hold public office.”
Singh’s opinion was shared by Douglas, who after trying to avoid answering the question, eventually told Newsday, “I agree with everything Mr Ganga Singh has said.”