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Fixin’ T&T: Excuses by Kamla and Padarath for hiring relatives is insulting

Civic watch group, Fixin’ T&T, will target Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and MPs Barry Padarath, Dr Bhoe Tewarie and Rushton Paray tomorrow for allegedly breaching Sections 24.2 and 29.1 of the Integrity in Public Life Act by having relatives employed at their constituency offices.

Photo: Opposition Leader and ex-Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. (Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)
Photo: Opposition Leader and ex-Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Frederic Dubray)

Fixin’ T&T, which is headed by businessman Kirk Waithe, has promised to deliver a letter to the Integrity Commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions tomorrow.

The group described offers by Persad-Bissessar and Padarath to repay the money paid to relatives as “insulting.”

The following is the full release by Fixin’ T&T:

FIXIN’ T&T will tomorrow deliver a letter to the Chairman of the Integrity Commission, copied to the Director of Public Prosecutions, requesting an investigation to determine whether Opposition Leader Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC, MPs Barry Padarath, Dr Bhoe Tewarie and Rushton Paray.

All of whom reportedly admitted to having relatives employed at their constituency offices, are in breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act as it relates to, among others, Sections 24 (2), and 29 (1).

Photo: Princes Town MP Barry Padarath. (Courtesy TTonline.org)
Photo: Princes Town MP Barry Padarath.
(Courtesy TTonline.org)

We are deeply troubled and utterly confused by the response of Mrs Persad-Bissessar to allegations that she has relatives in the employ of her constituency office.

Surely the Opposition Leader understands the definition of the word ‘relative’.

Further, as a learned Senior Counsel, she must fully appreciate that ignorance of the law/rules is not a defence. Her as well as MP Barry Padarath’s suggestion that the monies paid to said relatives can simply be repaid, is insulting.

Our Administration of Justice does not allow alleged perpetrators of laws/rules to arbitrarily determine their own fate and the debt to be paid to society.

We look forward to the views of Dr Tim Gopeesingh, Dr Suruj Rambachan and Prakash Ramadhar on this matter with the same vigour as their pronouncement of the Marlene McDonald situation.

Photo: Former Housing Minister and Port of Spain South Marlene McDonald. (Courtesy LoopTT)
Photo: Former Housing Minister and Port of Spain South Marlene McDonald.
(Courtesy LoopTT)

Provisions of the Integrity in Public Life Act:

Section 24 (2) states:

A person for whom this part applies shall not –

(a) use his office for the improper advancement of his own or his family’s personal or financial interests or the interest of any person;

(b) engage in any transaction, acquire any position or have any commercial or other interest that is incompatible with his office, function and duty or the discharge thereof;

(c) use public property or services for activities not related to his official work; or

(d) directly or indirectly use his office for private gain.

Photo: Caroni MP Bhoe Tewarie. (Courtesy Planning.Gov.TT)
Photo: Caroni MP Bhoe Tewarie.
(Courtesy Planning.Gov.TT)

Section 29 (1) states:

For the purposes of this act, a conflict of interest is deemed to arise if a person in public life or any person exercising a public function were to make or participate in the making of a decision in the execution of his office and at the same time knows or ought reasonably to have known, that in the making of the decision, there is an opportunity either directly or indirectly to further his private interests or that of a member of his family or of any other person;

Section 31 (1) states:

The Commission shall report any breach of this Part (of the Act) to the appropriate Service Commission, Board of other Authority and to the Director of Public Prosecutions setting out such details and particulars as it thinks fit.

About Fixin TT

Fixin TT
Fixin T&T's mission is the realization of good governance to achieve healthy, holistic, and fulfilling lifestyles for all citizens through the study, promotion, and furtherance of strong democratic institutions; sound infrastructure; integrity in public and corporate affairs; and a culture of respect by all for the laws and regulations of the country to create a safe, secure, efficient and productive Trinidad & Tobago.

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  2. Have you seen Fixin’ T&T on every TV station and on every Newspapers calling for Kamla’s resignation as opposition leader in like fashion as it was calling for Marlene’s head?(rhetorical) Then pray tell how is Fixin’ T&T targeting Kamla et al?(rhetorical) steupsssssssss!

  3. At least seventy percent of those employed in the public service and state enterprises, got their job through who they knew most of all politicians have had the greatest influence in the prejudiced employment practices from the time of Eric.
    So when and how can that type of nefarious conduct be stopped?

  4. 1. The new rules came into effect after the GE of 2015.
    2. The MPs were not aware of the change in rules which now included relatives.
    3. When the rules were sent to MPs (in February), Padarath dismissed his relative and sought to repay the money paid (an honourable gesture).
    4. Parah’s relative is more of a ‘pumpkin vine family’ and was not considered a relative by the Clerk of the House, therefore he was not in breach. She was the daughter of his grandfather’s second wife.
    5. KPB’s two relatives worked at her Office for 20 and 14 years respectively. Having found out very late, were they to be dismissed contrary to Industrial Relations principles which stipulate that if changes to persons’ occupation are made, the changes should not be disadvantageous to the employee? After working for 20 years all of a sudden someone suddenly ( without consultation or notice) changes the regulations.
    6. Who amended the rules, and did they issue notice of the amendments to the MPs. Were they authorised so to do?
    7. If Parliament hired the ‘relatives’ in the Constituency Offices under the recommendation of the MPs, is there an application form, and is it stated on the form that relatives are no longer qualified for the positions?

    Someone in the Office of the Parliament either erred or did mischief. Was it done deliberately?

  5. Well everything is alleged until somebody bring proof eh. And tong say is not proof

  6. Don’t thrown in the world ‘Alleged’ now. When it was against Marlene McDonald that word was absent!

  7. Like by mistake this red and ready GOVT changing some rules to suite them. When they were in opposition they came up against everything even now when the shoe on the other foot they still agreeing with the wrong .We are a country in crisis and need to seek God in every thing Too much racism on either side. Right now we don’t know if the country going or coming as for me and my house I will serve the Lord he is the way maker. We too far from The Almighty Father. Take heed pop.

  8. You people here need help serious help

  9. On what basis was Marlen Mc Doogle fired? Did Dr. Rowley state exactly what – in his opinion – she did wrong?

    Upon receiving info on that question, then can other MPs be looked at for equality of treatment.

    This is so because the MPs did not hire their family members, Parliament did. The persons employed were payed by Parliament and it is Parliament who is considered to be their employer. They would have been hired based upon the recommendation of the MP’s Office, and it cannot be proved – to this point – that the MP recommended the person. Even if they did, does that fall under any of the subsections of the IPLA?

    Further, the term family member should be looked at. It was only after the 2015 General Elections that the regulations for employing persons at the Constituency Offices were amended to include relatives. the definition of family and relative differs.

    Based upon this ‘very light’ analysis, could Fixin T&T state exactly which subsection of the law any of the MPs (including Marlene Mc D.) is suspected of having breached? Quoting the law and saying ‘someone broke it’ does not mean that a good case was made out.

    It is ironic though, to hear the PNM state that KPB should “do the honourable thing and resign.” Does that mean that M Mc D. was not being honourable because she did not resign? It can be proved that for 20 years the relative of KBP was actually working there, often times for very long hours, is there evidence that Lennox Carew or Michael C did any work for their pay? Wasn’t Lennox Carew out of the Country for a long period? Did he collect a salary during that time? Wasn’t the Carews being paid more than the stipulated maximum for an employee at the Constituency Office? Even if they were being paid for work done, was the MP fired based upon this? What exactly did she do that caused her dismissal Dr Rowley? The money to the Foundation and the HDC house seemed to be the more likely reason, but she was not fired for that.

  10. “Karma comes after everyone eventually….I don’t care who you are. …What goes around comes around….That’s how it works…Sooner or later the universe will serve you the revenge that you deserve.

  11. D ting now start.. popcorn out..

  12. And “no” Darryl Smith, I’m not saying Barry reminds me of a female tennis player. I’m referring to both being caught in skullduggery. That’s all! (Phew!)

  13. Vernal, Barry reminded me of Maria Sharapova with that excuse. Problem is he didn’t check to see if it worked for Sharapova before he tried it! Hahaha.

  14. Yes and there will be PNM minions who will try to spin things the next way…..its really up to the intelligent and objective people to try to ask the right questions and to seek the truth. This is what the media as the 4th estate should do…the role it should fill….that aside as of this point we do not know what Ms. Mcdonald was SPECIFICALLY fired for as the PM failed to clearly indicate.

  15. Ah know UNC minions will try to spin this as the government secretly changing the rules in order to catch the Opposition unaware of their being out of compliance.

  16. Before we go eh, let us remind ourselves that these rules apply to MPs on both government as well as opposition benches…..and that it led to the sacking of a cabinet minister by the government for breaching these revised rules.

  17. 2. Under the old rules were the persons employed by the Opposition leader and anyone else legal and in complinace with the then rules.3. Who changed the rules and why? 4. What contingency was made for persons previuously employed under the old rules who would have been affected by the new rules? 5. What is the stipulated penalty for breaching these rules?

  18. September 2015, right when Barry assumed office as MP for Princes Town.

  19. 1. Were the rules for employing persons in fact changed? If so when?

  20. IMHO the media on a whole does a VERY POOR job in Trinidad. It often seems the agenda is more bachannal based and is more polarised than balanced. Here are some fot eh questions I think the public would like to know

  21. First, many of the concerns about Marlene were being raised for five years and longer. Secondly, whether or not you buy the argument about limited resources in the local media, it doesn’t make it less true. Just like gravity.

  22. Corruption is corruption regardless of whether you are in government or not! It is still the public purse!

    Lasana, I do not buy your argument that media have limited resources and therefore the government of the day has priority over all else. Should said government fall who are we going to stain we finger for? And Marlene is the perfect example. Her friend was being paid since 2010! Had this story broke before election better choices could have been made.

    And let us not be foolish to believe Mr Waithe did this because he wanted to stamp out corruption. Apparently Marlene mash he corn and he pull out he cutlass. Now he has to continue swinging! Fine by me because what good for the goose is even better for the gander!

    Whenever the next election comes around we will be better informed to make hopefully better choices.

    • The story indeed broke before elections, but it was not publicised as it went against the interest of the pro-PNM media whose agenda was to paint Dr Rowley as a good leader and his team as persons of utmost integrity. Wait for the MP for Moruga….he seems to have a lot in common with his leader.

  23. Annnnd I really don’t think you meant minion as a compliment here but maybe I’m misreading you ?????

    • Lol. Not a compliment admittedly. But not quite a low blow either. It’s just an opinion so I can be wrong or right.
      I agree that we should tackle the corrupt wherever they might be. I also believe that Fixin T&T was not soft on corruption when the PP was in charge. And I explained why the ruling party will always be under the microscope more than the opposition.
      My only complaint, Andrea, is that you seem to do your utmost to avoid saying anything about the elements of corruption within the PNM. And that is why I came to that conclusion.

    • I’m trying my utmost to not let you make this about me personally but rather the issue at hand. And yea it is a low blow, known as an insult and can’t be seen as anything else really. Lol. (Just added lol here cause people think it just makes things better)

  24. If MM is charged by the CoP, I think everybody will look to bring their cocoa in from the sun

  25. Again, this is not my side it’s a national issue. No? Go after the corrupt with equal vim and vigor or well don’t if you don’t want to.

    • I do understand where you are coming from. Recall that that group was seen as a PNM group due to all the pressure on the former administration. And in early days, the group stayed silent, then raised concerns but did not make waves with them. It is only more recently they have been more vocal. Don’t know if they were giving the Minister time to resign, or for the PM to take action, or for proof of the allegations.

  26. I’m not trying to single you out specifically Andrea. You were very vocal on the matter and articulate better than most, so I was hoping that you would explain that aspect to me.
    The term minion suggests people who will never say a bad word about their tribe no matter what the evidence.
    And you refuse to acknowledge, even after Rowley swung the axe, that Marlene deserved it. Because, if she deserved it, it logically follows that Fixin T&T did a good job in exposing her.
    I do think your failure to address your own side’s wrongs fits the description of a minion. But, even if so, that’s your right too.
    I don’t even see it as an insult. I certainly didn’t mean it that way. It simply is what it is.

  27. Classic case of when a discussion breaks down is when we turn to name calling as the last line of defense

    • Earl Best

      Andrea Beach, I have no idea who you are or what your political colour is but I’m with you 100% on this. What good fuh de goose… But I have to add that such zeal as you display here is really rare for someone who has no irons in the fire – and that does NOT mean, Vernal, cocoa in de sun.

  28. Should fixin T&T not go after all the corrupt or is that illogical? Prob they should wait after the in govt to go after them so by that “logic”. They’ll go after kams after she comes back into power. Until then we’ll call everyone who disagrees a minion till then.

  29. Vernal and Nicole, logic is kryptonite to minions.

  30. I’m not missing your question just missing your attempt to turn the story on me. Dem things are for PNM to deal with not me personally. I ent know Marlene so whether I happy with her firing or not have nothing to do with whether fixin T&T as a purported national organization should go after all the corrupt

  31. Everybody was in love with Fixin’ T&T when dey was calling on all dem PP people to go or the get fired for wrong doing. As he call on a PNM person they start to talk about how much car TCM rent the PP. Why people in politics automatically believe because you cuss one you’re one of them is beyond me

    • Only the media and Kirk Waithe liked Kirk Waithe. The average man either disliked him or didn’t give a toss.

  32. Read carefully and you will see just what they think of the electorate.

  33. So which one of those stinking prejudice parasites in that pretentious group actually have any integrity now?
    And just who the hell appointed those parasites as icons of virtue in the first place when they all seem to belong to the same kleptocratic cult of satanic demons feeding on selfishness and greed for all their stinking life?

  34. We live in a very corrupt society where almost everyone is doing it but are brazen enough to point fingers. It starts with the child whose parents use nefarious means to have them admitted into preferential educational establishments. Then they use their influence in particular circles to have their children employed in preferential positions ahead of other more deserving, qualified and competent citizens, who don’t have the privilege of a god-father in influential places.

  35. Andrea Beach, you are very fluent on this matter but you keep missing my question.
    Are you happy that Marlene McDonald was fired after she was found to have breached the Integrity in Public Life Act?

  36. This is what I want to tell fixing Tnt

  37. The CoP has stated that she’s being investigated for fraud and corruption, I’m sure that’s something to do with Calabar and not POS South.

  38. Buh wait nah Lasana, ent Fixin T&T said that they applied for FOI for all other 40 constituents? And on another note, that constituency faux pas was an excuse cause the PM had very real evidence of fraud and corruption even before that was made public.

  39. They need to learn when to keep their mouths shut especially when you know your hands are also in the cookie jar.

  40. Rowley has shown TnT he does not govern like ‘Kamla’. Kamla is showing us she is still ‘Kamla’. No need to go after her. She is doing the ‘work’ for us once she doesn’t resign. Well played, Keithos, well played.

  41. Not sure who I’m misreading but I know this press release was even more delayed than kams response. The paranoid would tend to think that time had to be given to sync stories. Anyhow, can’t be any different than you trying to spin this into my story a couple of posts above.

    • But eh eh. You think Fixin’ T&T has a State budget? Suppose Waithe had business to conduct or so when this happened.
      Is he providing a 24 hour service now?
      He responded too late for you?
      I hope you petition Rowley to give Fixin T&T a budget then.

    • It has nothing to do with me personally (still trying to spin it to me huh?). Fixin T&T on Fb they don’t need a budget for that.

    • Of course they do Andrea. Because time is limited. Every day I have to choose between what I can and cannot do because there is a limit in time.
      And then I have to factor in time with my family and myself too.
      For Fixin T&T, its members also have to factor in their day jobs.

    • Right right Mmmhmmm I’m sure the population buys this. Doesn’t really matter tho. What’s done is done and what’s not done makes everything plain.

    • “Population”? Or “PNM fanatics”?
      Like I said, I would think you would be thrilled that Fixin TT helped your party unearth a crooked member.
      Sure doesn’t sound like it though. ?

    • Yep population (well not UNC supporters lol.) We all have to live here just don’t pose as though your intentions are honorable and act opposite to what you say. Or you can it doesn’t really matter, but it all comes out in the end. See how you still trying to spin the story my way – that’s one example.

    • Andrea you guys know that fixing tnt is just providing a free public service right? Whether or not they had a hidden agenda for digging up dirt on Marlene should not be of priority concern since the evidence they found was held up to public scrutiny and was cogent enough for the PM to act on. If they seem to be acting with less vigor on the breaches by opposition members in hiring their family it’s also their perogative based on their priority as a watch dog group. There are lots of other interested parties who will take up this cause…like the media and the govt.

    • No need for spin from any side Andrea Beach. You can simply answer a straight question.
      Are you happy that Marlene McDonald was fired after she was found to have breached the Integrity in Public Life Act?

    • I’m sure all of that is true doesn’t make it right but it is true. Even watchdog groups have bills to pay

  42. Here’s how it works Kevin. The media has a limited amount of resources.
    If you were a news editor and you have one available writer. One story is corruption at the Ministry of Finance. The other is corruption at Princes Town constituency.
    Which would you assign your lone reporter to cover?

    • The Ministry of Finance obviously

    • Right. And then they have to swing back to Princes Town at first opportunity to find out what going on. Both are relevant. Just that one is more pressing.

    • sorry Lasana that is an amateur editor .maybe you do like the NY times…assign the reporter to do a series about corruption at all constituencies. Then you do not look like to are responding to complaints from people on Facebook.

    • Limited resource means limited resources. And that means choice. Economics 101. A breaking story in Ministry of Finance and you ask reporter to do a sweep of constituencies? You would be fired in a week.

    • Amateur is amateur…that limited resources line doh work with me….is there a story to follow…the story was one MP hiring their family…is it a stretch to assume that a lot of others may be doing the same?

    • Maybe that is why there is so much corruption here. The media does stories on the surface and dig no deeper to show real issues.

    • Limited resources doesn’t work for you? Doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Like gravity.
      And it was Fixin TT who unearthed the stuff at MP office. And they have already opened probe into other 40 constituency offices. Maybe you missed that one.
      You don’t get that info with one phone call.

    • It is real…incompetence is also real. Wrong is wrong on any side….but I expecting to read that a reporter asking Fixing TnT if he had any problems with that ministry. Is it really about corruption or is it about you losing business?

    • They already asked that question. And answers were given. And misperceptions cleared up. A man like yourself who is so passionate about news should have no trouble finding that out via Google or even a search in this group.

  43. Not talking about Govt’s though Vernal. I’m talking about the media or people who trying to do the media wok.
    Let me repeat eh Andrea Beach. I said “same fervour”.
    I see you misreading me. Hopefully without prejudice.

  44. You are missing my point as well I dont care about party politics. I care about perceived balance and bious. It matters not that Unc is now in opposition just 6 months ago and for 5 years they were the government and that makes them just as accountable as the present pnm govt.

  45. Well to be honest Lasana Liburd, the Persad-Bissessar administration went after Opposition Leader Rowley with what can only be termed “extreme prejudice”!

  46. Ohhhhhhh got it!! Thought we were going after corrupt public officials not just the ones in government. Ohhh I got now.

  47. Kevin Denny, it is absurd to say that anyone should go after the Opposition with the same fervour as they go after the Gov’t. And the answer to that is obvious.
    And it will always be a complaint by people who don’t really understand how a country works.
    Every five years, the ruling party makes the same complaint no matter who is in charge.
    The reason, Kevin, is that the Gov’t is responsible for the resources of the State. And that makes them much more relevant than the Opposition.

  48. And no I’m not upset. Lol just observing the plays

  49. Marlene ain’t even my MP so I don’t even know whether she’s a good MP or not

  50. I didnt gather that Andrea Beach from her post is upset at all that Ms Mc Donald was fired and I agree with her that Mr Waithe should go after the opposition with the same passion that he went after the former Minister.

  51. Who is Rushton Paray? He in our Parliament?

  52. Uou relly need an explanation for that?
    PNM have minions too!

  53. All I want is for any PNM supporter who wants to take this up. Please explain why you are unhappy that Marlene was sacked.

  54. Nope try all you might to turn this on me it falls squarely in the lap of fixin T&T and their late response

  55. Is it that some PNM supporters want Marlene back? Because I’m having trouble understanding why they are so agitated.
    Is it that you think Fixin T&T cost you a wonderful asset?

  56. Andrea Beach, are you upset that someone found to have breached the Integrity in Public Life Act and cheated taxpayers–Marlene McDonald–was forced out of office?

  57. Nope want them to use the same strong language they did before. This is decidedly tame. This is the same point I was making before vernal hounding people does no good. They’ll just hound you back. Let’s make no mistake what they were doing with Marlene was a hounding. Try try try too something sticks. Not having someone resign is no reason for you to NOT call for their resignation and/or firing. They’ve done it before. They ca do it again (if they wanted to)

  58. Just now Trinidad and Tobago will be a nation where we all stand around staring at one another cocoa……fus everybody own in the sun!

  59. Hehehehe it sounded better in black and white Lasana Liburd. “I Not Moving” (Ms.Hulsie Bhagan Voice)????!!!

  60. You want Fixin’ T&T to ask the Opposition Leader to fire the Opposition Leader? Lol.
    Strategically Hazel, I don’t think the Prime Minister need be too worried about an Opposition Leader with no credibility. Forcing her to move isn’t necessarily a smart political move for the PNM.

  61. Can’t the NGO publicly call on them to resign as they have done in the past?

  62. Could The Prime Minister Dr.Keith Christopher Rowley Implement A Motion 2 Suspend Her From Parliament 4 Lack Of Integrity, As She Executed When She Held That Title Previously?

  63. That’s a tall order that I’m not certain either the Integrity Commission or the Director of Public Prosecutions can fill!

  64. It’s a little insulting that they not calling for their firing or resignation. They’re only deeply troubled?

    • Well to be fair to fixing tnt there were other more compelling reasons to fire Marlene. The relatives working in the constituency office was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. The main reason they went after her is the calabar foundation.