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AG Al-Rawi defends Marlene’s housing enquiry: Do you agree?

On Friday January 15, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi launched a defence for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s decision not to have Housing Minister Marlene McDonald step down, despite her admission that she enquired about a HDC house for her common-law husband, Michael Carew, in 2008.

Photo: Housing Minister Marlene McDonald (left) with Culture Ministry Permanent Secretary Hermia Tyson-Cuffie. McDonald was Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs at the time of this photograph. (Copyright news.gov.tt)
Photo: Housing Minister Marlene McDonald (left) during her spell as Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs.
(Copyright news.gov.tt)

McDonald was Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs at the time.

Listen below to Al-Rawi’s interview on Power 102 FM and share your views.

Photo: PNM Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. (Copyright Elections.TT)
Photo: PNM Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
(Copyright Elections.TT)

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67 comments

  1. I agree with Al-Rawi to defend Marlene….you all who giving negative comments not studying that this also happened in the last government..but you all won’t say anything about that. So whether PNM stands to defend….UNC will always be offended by everything PNM does….Tit For Tat….if UNC was in Government it would b the other way around…

    • The AG focused on the legal aspect and completely sidestepped the ethical issue.

    • Tesheira (former Min of Finance) said she did nothing ‘legally’ wrong by retrieving her 11 million dollars just before the announcement of the CLICO collapse.

      MM said she didn’t break the law. AG said MM didn’t break the law. What about ethics?

    • So we should let everybody do wha dey want and doh say anything? Regardless of who did wrong, it should be frowned upon, and the wrongs made right.

  2. PNM investigating and defending PNM ..

    No need for independent 3rd parties …..

    We vote for this ? right ? this is what the PNM promised ?

  3. Just so unappealing on so many levels.

  4. The PNM spoke a lot about public trust and public confidence which is a separate matter from what is or isn’t legal. If the PM and AG listened to themselves speak during the election campaign, they would acknowledge this.
    The Housing Ministry has been a hotbed of corruption for some time.
    So would the country sleep well knowing someone with the reputation Marlene earned for herself is at the helm?
    She might avoid legal sanction. But she doesn’t have my confidence at all and there seem to be more than a few people who think like me.

  5. I don’t think a Minister needs to resign unless they are under criminal investigation or their office can hinder an investigation into their conduct. The next point is that its a mistake to defend any public behaviour on the ground that it is not illegal-the standard for those who decide what’s illegal or not cannot be what’s illegal. It’s higher. Otherwise a party would not need to have a legislative agenda. The problem with my view is that if the standard is when you’re under criminal probe-then the police force needs to be reliable. That’s another issue altogether.

  6. He’s being legalistic. Since he’s the AG that’s his remit, I suppose. I take his point that she wasn’t the person in charge of housing at the time, and so wasn’t abusing her official position. On the other hand, this is Trini culture, and a Minister ‘enquires’ from a position of power. And Faris knows that. I think his frequent attempts to take over the conversation indicate strongly that he knows he’s standing on shaky ground in terms of ethics.

  7. Wow….three months in and the new administration is already defending itself against corruption allegations, that’s not a good sign…. A proper audit of all major State Agencies going back 10 years is what is needed, especially since many of them, including the HDC have rarely submitted any yearly audited financial statements, as required by law …

  8. I can explain the difference, Adrian. Seven years ago, people head were hot with Calder Hart and Clico and so forth.
    Today, there are no such distractions in a fresh Gov’t that has promised to be different.
    Marlene needs another scandal to pop up ASAP!

    • Isn’t that what the PM was trying to do by stating that $400,000 of alcohol were found in the PM residence? Ppl had questions as they could not believe, given what was alleged in the past, that such a large stash remained, and the household does not buy alcohol but receives it from the bond. That issue did not blow up at all. And by trying to ‘buss mark’ on the past administration, many are frustrated as ppl waiting to hear what you do/doing so it’s starting to backfire. We already know many wrongs were committed-you were voted in to deal with it!

    • Might have someone charged soon then…

    • Judy-ann Stewart -hope it is a charge that sticks and that charges are not just brought up to satisfy public frustration. My question is all the investigative journalism done over the years, where information is in the public domain, isn’t that a good place to start? What about Petrotrin and the Soldado project? Lifesport?

    • Nerisha Mohammed, I always felt that it was not sufficient for the journalists to raise these matters but to follow them up with additional stories to let the government or relevant authorities know that it is not going to die. That would be the equivalent of something going viral on FB. One of them needs to do a story on all the ‘forgotten’ matters. There were so many that we can’t even remember them all!

    • Judy-ann Stewart while I hear you…and I know this is not our standard, but you know in developed countries, investigations could be opened up when info is circulating in the public donain? Look at how efficient the police service has been recently with all the videos circulating. Is there a different standard for print media?

    • Nerisha Mohammed, I feel that the article is like a post but the follow up posts are what would make the issue viral. The TTPS have only followed up on the videos (except Room 201) because everyone is talking about it for a period. We have to force them to follow up on issues by keeping them to the forefront as much as possible. That might cause them to open up files when stories hit the papers. To be fair to them though, they are short staffed in the investigative area and plodding along isn’t helping their case.

    • Every week, media houses do have to prioritise due to being short staffed though. Sometimes you have no choice but to drop one story because something else emerges that is pressing.
      But your point is a fair one.

  9. Had this been a UNC government those throwing their support behind Marlene now would have been helping roll the guillotine up to parliament like is Renegades Steel Pan Orchestra!

  10. As far as I am concerned this issue is minor compared to the evidence presented in the past . If she was not convicted and jailed then , nothing will come of this now . Trinidadians are just an inherently corrupt and hypocritical people .

  11. I kind of laid off these chats the last few days when I discovered that culturally we have little appreciation of ethics.

  12. People have said that Wired868 is a “PNM group”. I don’t think it ever was, even though the PP got plenty licks here.
    But let us go with that sentiment for a second…
    I had to stop posting comments on the website on Fixin T&T’s call for Marlene to be removed. There were close to 400 comments at the time and most were not favourable to the Housing Minister.
    All I will say is that a word to the wise should be enough. If they still think there is nothing here to worry about and choose to be dismissive of the whole issue…
    Well, that’s on them.

  13. I’m slowly coming to the realization that in Trinidad (not Tobago eh, dem different) there is no such concept as ethics.
    There is only legal and illegal!

    • Doh leave Tobago out. Same difference.

    • Nah ….. Tobagonians aren’t like us.

    • What you expect Vernal when both parties are stacked with a bunch of lawyers. Trinis fondly refer to lawyers as?…because ethics and the rule of law are sometimes polar opposites…

    • Vernal Damion Cadogan that used to be so but they head not hard, they learning well from us in TnT-at least some ofr the politicians in Tobago from what I read.

    • Vernal stuff going on in Tobago that you dont hear about. If is one thing they tight knit there. Let we ask them to account for all the subventions over the years.

    • Tobago is a whole other kettle of fish.
      They behave as thoug Trinis are lower than them, yet always want more money.
      feeling of entitlement. You bring less to the table but always want more.
      Compare Tobago with the constituency of Moruga/Tableland. The latter is larger, with more persons, roads, buildings etc but gets only a miniscule amount compared to the hundreds of millions Tobago receives annually. Yet Tobago refuses to submit documents for auditing. Where is all that money going? Certainly not in infrastructure.

      That’s a story there – take em Mr./Ms. Investigative journalist.

  14. Bottom line is a wrong is a wrong whether it was Marlene or Unc ministers. Do not use your office for personal gains

  15. The issue here is an ethical one – did Marlene use her position as an elected representative to benefit a close personal friend’s HDC application process?

    If she did then that’s called a conflict of interest!

    • Vernal, clearly you missed the point. There was no breach of tge IPL Act-in LAW! That is the standard. So why ppl fire Kamla for Krystian getting contract or SIS getting land-my standard is same yardstick for all, but that’s just me with my ethical self-I don’t have to reach the standard in law. For a new gov’t, th PNM surely not doing much to instill confidence in me boy. They don’t seem to realise failure is NOT an option at this point-literally the future of the country is at stake in their hands.

    • Unethical behavior can only take place where it is enabled.

    • But our standard of conduct is to fulfil legal requirement-not ethical and moral ones. Hmm…so what JW get charged for again? We have laws in TnT that make kickbacks etc illegal? And what is the difference, if any, between kickbacks and bribes?

    • And Vernal Damion Cadogan we cannot under-estimate the power of double speak (semantics) and denial. Reading newspaper-PM says there would be no job losses, but 21 ppl sent home from Ministry. Contract workers, though not the permanent establishment, are workers nevertheless. Another headlube-Dillon says TnT not in a state of lawlessness. Just below that is the headline Fraud Squad to proble Legal Affairs. Is it that the Minister does not know the meaning of the word lawlessness? Our high murder rate, fees collected for traffic offences un the millions, allegations under the former regime of corruption, these are all the hallmarks of a law-abiding society? Interesting….

    • It’s a recession ….. there will be job losses.

    • While I hear you, the issue is not the job loss per se but the continued double speak. They came into office knowing the state of the economy, albeit maybe not the full picture. Properly managing expectations is key to gaining and keeping trust. Ppl were assured there would be no job losses-certainly they can’t control the private sector, but thenpublic service should have been insulated from what was said. How many ppl lost jobs so far in the public sector-hundreds? And the irony is while talking about contract work, the same Office of the PM is advertising for staff-on contract.

    • No I get you Nerisha, it’s just the fact that a people can be told that the country is in recession but there’ll be no job cuts that I find astounding.

      It’s like saying it’s rainy while assuring no one will get wet!

    • Vernal Damion CadoganI do not like dishonesty and doublespeak. Public servants can’t just be sent home, there would have to be consultation with the union etc. Contract workers, on the other hand, are very vulnerable. Why give assurances that the public servants would not be sent home, or were you just stating a fact?

    • Another issue is that our money was given to an entity with a fictitious address of 10 Ariapita Road St. Ann’s by the Ministry of Community Development to do nothing and citizens ain’t making noise about that!!! We make noise for the 34million dollars given in life sport to do nothing and ghost workers in the Ag office doing nothing but paid from public funds. It is so easy for persons to obtain government funds suggest to me that national budgets are deliberately inflated each year and the claim made before that 1 in ever 3 dollars budgeted is carted off via corruption holds true. The government need to slash the current budget by at least 20 billion dollars to stem the hemorrhaging, corruption and wastage!!!.

    • Lester Logie I see the gov’t reviewing GATE. Let us not forget the scholarship/slush fund. What came out of that? No one held accountable?

  16. Omg! Now I see why we in the mess we in because the standard is was there a breach of the IPL Act-IN-LAW; the AG is suggesting no-and IF it is investigated…doesn’t the IC fall under his office? Moreover, she was not the Minister under whose office (housing fell) so there could not have been a breach of the IPL? Why the hullabaloo about the Gopauls? Kamla don’t award contracts for NGC. Deflection much in this interview? And the AG admitting to writing to recommend services for constituents-that is not you exercising influence over the process? So we back to who you know? My goodness, after hearing this interview…..

  17. I am done with this. To me it’s clear that Marlene engaged in a conflict of interest, if that doesn’t offend Trinidadian principles then so be it.

    A government is ALWAYS a reflection of the governed.

  18. He says he wouldn’t ask for his wife but spends the whole interview defending Marlene asking for her man?
    The PNM has handled this situation so poorly and extended its life way beyond what it should have been.
    Comparisons to what the PP government did are only valid if you want to use them as some sort of standard. If you plan to do better then you need to have higher standards and draw no comparisons to them.
    The government would do well to accept that it has to make very difficult economic decisions in the interest of the country that may be unpopular with many and as such, has little room to garner unfavourable responses on issues of integrity and good governance if it would like to remain in the good graces of the majority.

    • With all due respect, ppl voted out the PP for the seeming lack of integrity in public life. So that is to be the standard now? Didn’t ppl vote to instill confidence, transparency and accountability in office? But then again, the definition if madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The same players whose names are being called did not clear their names through proper procedure and if the PNM chooses to bring them back and the UNC chooses to raise legimitate questions through legitimate channels, what can I say.

    • The AG said that he will not cross “that line” by asking a favour for his wife. Isn’t he indirectly saying that Marlene McD crossed a line that she should not have?