What does new installed Chairman of the Integrity Commission, Retired Justice Zainool Hosein, Watson Duke and Ian Alleyne have in common?
A total disregard for media workers and consequently the people of Trinidad and Tobago. At his swearing-in, Justice Hosein responded to a legitimate question posed by the Media by hurtling this insult at the Reporter: “You don’t either understand English or you’re not prepared to hear what I’m saying, I’m not dealing with the Retired Judges Association business at this interview, this interview is in relation to the Integrity Commission, okay?”
The reporter’s question was justified and deserved an appropriate answer. It is my view that the Justice should have resigned from being head of such a powerful lobby group before accepting the position of Chairman of the Integrity Commission. Instead he chose to hold on to two offices and hurl an insult at the media person who dared to inquire. This behaviour is yet another example of a person being placed in a position of responsibility and immediately acting irresponsibly.
One can ague that one position does not materially affect another but we have all witnessed the daily abuses by officials in our country. If they are not overpaying their family, they are hiring friends with manufactured credentials. It is a period of low trust for public officials from Captain to Cook! In order to regain the trust and confidence of the population office holders must reach for the moral high ground. In this case, Justice Hosein was not presiding over his court, he was responding to the media and ought to have demonstrated a keener understanding of the role the media plays acting on behalf of the people.
Our history is replete with examples of office holders using one position as leverage to achieve objectives in another. The position of head of the retired Judges association is important and cannot be easily ignored by any office holder. Let us imagine that there is a matter before the Integrity Commission involving the person who can make a decision about the Pensions of retired Judges. In the person’s mind, it is the same person with the authority and opportunity to make a particular decision. It is easy to perceive that their action in one area will be influenced by an outcome they expect in another and vice versa.
If Justice Hosein has not yet resigned from one of these positions then I urge him to act with haste. Otherwise “How it go look?”
One thought on “How it go look?”
Hello and thanks for this, Dennise,
This opening foray by the new IC Chairman is of a piece with the general assumptions by persons holding high Public Office of authority and superiority, with the consequent disdain now deeply besetting our nation.
Just ponder on President Carmona’s speech at the opening of Parliament on 3rd August 2013, in which we were all hoping for some clarity as to why Dr. James Armstrong and the late Corrine Baptiste-McKnight had been removed as Independent Senators. In that speech – see http://jyoticommunication.blogspot.com/2013/08/parliament-must-be-about-peoples.html – Carmona was utterly clear that the authority in respect of Presidential appointees to the Senate was his and his alone…and that was that. His rationale was a rickety one, claiming that the Independent bench had had no finance or energy experts for 50 years, both of which of course were unfounded. That was the virtually the early stage for our Head of State.
Also, consider Larry Howai’s address to Senate on 16th October 2012, in facing questions as to why he had dismissed the Ministry of Finance legal team for the Colman Commission and hired Law Association President, Seenath Jairam. The fired team was led by Fyard Hosein SC, who had taken up a role in representing the HRM. When this matter came up during that Senate sitting, Howai is reported to have said “…We consulted on whom we should choose… no I don’t want to get into detail, everybody will have their own point of view but at the end of the day the client decides…”. You see?
Returning to the IC and its Deputy Chairman, Sebastien Ventour, I am also reminded of his dismissive response to pointed questions after the closely-coordinated damblay between the CJ, the President and Ventour himself. To enable to Ventour to deliver several outstanding judgments, his resignation from the IC was accepted by President Carmona, who swore him into office the very next day as a temporary Judge – I think the term is Puisne. A short while after that, Justice Ventour delivered the outstanding judgements at the Hall of Justice. Pause here to note that the JLSC has to approve appointments of judges and also that the parties to the cases had to be notified that the outstanding judgments were to be delivered. After the outstanding judgments were delivered, Justice Ventour then resigned and was reappointed to the Integrity Commission a short while later. Also note that the terms of appointment to the IC do not allow one to carry on with other work – exactly the same sword Chairman Hosein is juggling. I must not forget my quote of Ventour’s response to those pointed questions – see this Express article from 27th February 2014 – ‘Ex-judge: No big deal
Ventour back on Integrity Commission’ – http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Ex-judge-No-big-deal-247677191.html –
“Ventour had resigned from the commission on February 5 to be appointed a puisne judge on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission to deliver three outstanding judgments. At a short ceremony at the President’s office yesterday, he was reappointed a commissioner by President Anthony Carmona.
In a statement read at the ceremony by the president’s aide-de-camp, Don Polo, the President’s office indicated the reappointment of Ventour came after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
Asked yesterday whether he was performing a judicial function (because he would have been deliberating and contemplating the judgments) while still serving on the commission (prior to his resignation), Ventour skirted this question, saying: “Listen ladies and gentlemen, I think you should redirect the cameras. There are so many ills affecting Trinidad and Tobago at this point in time, you got to refocus. I am going back to the Integrity Commission at this time to continue a job I started and I hope your prayers are with me. No further comment”.
The president also declined to answer questions saying he has never conducted interviews at his office.”
The point here is that, having allowed that astonishing degree of flexibility in the Ventour case, there is real doubt in my mind as to what is the standard we are asking the new IC Chairman to observe…you see?