Former Head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas yesterday expressed surprise at the “remarkable position” taken by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young, in relation to the latter’s utterances last Thursday at the post Cabinet press conference.
Young, in clarifying that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was not disinvited from a high-level meeting of ten world leaders with Chinese President Xi Jinping, slammed what he termed as, “un-informed and self-important” commentators, who claimed Rowley was disinvited.
While Young did not name Dumas, during his verbal assault at the post Cabinet press conference, his reference to a ‘former head of the Public Service’ and advice to that former head, to stay quiet on things he did not know about, was enough to warrant Dumas to issue a press release.
I have seen and read media reports, Dumas said, of remarks made about me by Minister Young. While not having any intention to descend into a tit-for-tat exchange, Dumas said, he wanted to make a few comments on Young’s remarks.
First, addressing me directly, he (Young) said if I didn’t know (in other words, have all the facts) about something, I should not comment. “Whether this was meant to be a piece of advice, or an instruction, or a veiled threat/warning, I cannot say, but I have taken note of it. Whichever it might have been, it was to my mind, a remarkable position for anyone to advocate in a society said to be democratic and whose Constitution guarantees citizens freedom of thought and expression,” Dumas said.
In addition, Dumas continued, Young is a Minister in the Office of the Attorney General, whose website says that one of his two functions is guardian of the public interest. “How do his remarks guard that interest,” Dumas asked.
“Further, I have worked too long and too hard for Trinidad and Tobago, starting before Mr Young’s birth I imagine, to allow myself subject to the law, to be silenced by Mr Young or anyone on any matter concerning this country. Second, I assume – I do not know – that, given the principle of Cabinet collective responsibility, Mr Young’s words about me represent the position of the Cabinet.”
Dumas then said it would be helpful if Young publish or cause to be published, a full and factual account of the Trinidad and Tobago-China issue that has been the subject of such interest recently.
At the post Cabinet press conference, Young also slammed former PNM trade minister Mariano Browne’s remarks on social media, saying: “He’s insignificant and won’t change the nature, structure and importance of TT’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China.”