Four days into the arrest and detention of Public Administration minister Marlene McDonald and her husband Michael Carew on August 8 on allegations of corruption, Movement for Social Justice, (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah has called on the Prime Minister to remove McDonald from the Cabinet.
“It is very clear that today, four days after she been held by the police, together with her husband, and now together with other persons, contractors, and reportedly a former permanent secretary, this investigation is a very serious investigation and, therefore, we are calling today for the PM forthwith to remove Mrs McDonald as a member of the Cabinet of TT.”
The Port of Spain South MP was arrested by police along with her common-law husband Michael Carew last Thursday morning as a part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption. McDonald’s home in Maracas, St Joseph and her Port of Spain South Constituency Office were searched on Thursday and McDonald and Carew were questioned by police on Friday. Three contractors have also been held by police for questioning in relation to the allegations. Up to press time last night, McDonald, her husband and the contractors were preparing to be charged at the Professional Standards Bureau on Henry Street, Port of Spain.
Addressing a media conference at the party’s Lord Street, San Fernando offices, Abdulah said the matter has been in the making prior to the 2015 General Election and highlights the PM’s “error of judgement” when he approved McDonald’s candidacy for the Port of Spain South constituency seat.
“Persons within the PNM itself objected to Ms McDonald being a candidate for Port of Spain South but Dr Rowley’s error of judgement fundamentally, and that of the PNM, is in making Ms McDonald a candidate in 2015 when there were credible allegations being made against her at that time.”
“The root of the problem is really her being chosen by the PNM to be a candidate in 2015.”
Abdulah also expressed concern about a business lobby group hiring former foreign crime experts to assist the TTPS in the fight against crime saying there are established methods when sourcing overseas assistance.
“There are mutual assistance treaties between the TT government and the governments of Canada, the US and the UK and through these mutual assistance treaties the government can request official support and assistance from the security and intelligence service of these countries to assist our security services here in the fight against crime so there are ways in which we can seek expert assistance from outside.”
“So we take very serious offence to the private sector of this country hiring persons who are then assigned to work alongside or to work with or to assist the TTPS because what we are then doing is crossing the boundaries with respect to the integrity of the TTPS.”
“We cannot have the private sector now being involved directly in crime fighting. These are private for hire people, they may be mercenaries, we don’t know, you cannot hire somebody to work with the TTPS as a private person, that is wrong.”
He however said they can provide money “in a transparent way” to raise and increase the capacity of the TTPS, or improve services at the Forensic Sciences Centre.”
And regarding the full economic embargo imposed on Venezuela by US President Donald Trump on August 6, last week, Abdulah said the world had to “stand up” to Trump as he has also threatened to impose sanctions on any country or organisation which does business with the Nicolas Maduro government.
“Donald Trump is an imperialist bully who has threatened third countries which includes TT that countries and companies that engage in trade with Venezuela and Cuba as well, can be sanctioned and that is illegal, it is illegitimate, it is contrary to international law.”