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Friday 18 October 2019
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Dumas: Simonette should never have said yes

Former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas.
Former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas.

Retired head of the public service Reginald Dumas says Garvin Simonette should never have accepted the prime minister's offer to be a senator and public administration minister, given his past driving under the influence (DUI) case in the United States.

Simonette, an attorney, was to be sworn-in as public administration minister on Monday after former minister Marlene McDonald was fired from the Cabinet owing to the corruption charges against her.

However, shortly before scheduled swearing-in ceremony at President's House, the Opposition exposed details of his past DUI case in the US, via online postings, prompting his withdrawal as the candidate for public administration minister. The Prime Minister has since assumed that portfolio.

Simonette told Newsday on Monday he took full responsibility for not having told Rowley about his DUI case. He also issued a statement, saying: "I have advised the Prime Minister that in light of adverse media coverage regarding my culpability for driving under the influence, it would be inappropriate for me to accept his appointment to accept his appointment to the Cabinet of TT."

Dumas yesterday told Newsday Simonette was "perfectly correct" to withdraw his acceptance of the offer to be Minister of Public Administration ,"though I would have preferred if he had not accepted the offer in the first place, especially in light of all the bacchanal going on now."

He said Simonette should have exercised more prudence, especially in the age of social media.

"Clearly, in this day and age, you can't hide, and someone would have discovered very quickly – and someone did discover very quickly – that he had been arrested and charged for driving under the influence."

He said people assuming positions in public life "must be squeaky clean, or be seen as squeaky clean."

Dumas added: "If you are going to be in a position of responsibility, people can't be saying things like 'That fella does beat he wife.'

"So I think Simonette correctly decided to withdraw his acceptance of the offer.

"But I would have preferred if, in the circumstances that he described to us of his own arrest, I would have preferred if he had not accepted the offer in the first place, because people in positions of responsibility must send messages of good behaviour to the rest of the society, especially to the young people in the society."

Dumas said there is nothing wrong with Rowley assuming the public administration portfolio, as he has done it before.

"It will more than likely be a temporary arrangement. Perhaps he may have to reshuffle his Cabinet or look for somebody else in due course."

Dumas avoided comment on the corruption charges facing McDonald, her common-law husband, Michael Carew and three others.

"She has to appear in court now. She has been dismissed from the Cabinet. The Prime Minister had advised the President to revoke her appointment. So we now wait and see what happens, because this is now a matter for the court."

However, he said the developments have embarrassed the country.

"As a citizen, I am somewhat embarrassed by all of these goings-on, because the country don't look good.

I am concerned about the country. Some people are concerned about the party, but I am concerned about TT."

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