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MATT: Carmona wrong to use Republic Day message to deflect valid questions

“President [Anthony] Carmona appears out of touch with the urgent demands for accountability in 21st century Caribbean reporting and journalism.”

The following is a release from the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) in response to President Anthony Carmona’s Republic Day message:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona (second from right) shows Pope Francis how to beat iron. (Courtesy whensteeltalks.com)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona (second from right) shows Pope Francis how to beat iron.
(Courtesy whensteeltalks.com)

His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona SC is wrong to use his Republic Day message to deflect legitimate questions raised in the media about the use of public funds by President’s House.

Rather than demonstrating his commitment to transparency and accountability, President Carmona regretfully chose to smear the work of journalists seeking to hold public officials to account.

Press freedom is a distinct right enshrined in the Republican Constitution and all citizens have a right to freedom of expression.  These rights do not exclude social media commentators.

In Trinidad and Tobago, no public officer is spared valid, persistent questions and commentary about how they use the offices to which they have been elected or selected. The era of not questioning high office holders has ended; all must account.

It is responsible journalism that motivates reporters to try unsuccessfully and in different ways to get responses to public issues from President Carmona and his office. Instead of a measured response to accumulating queries, the President yesterday opted to attack the noble profession and its more irreverent online practitioners.

Photo: University lecturer, author, blogger and radio talk show co-host Rhoda Bharath raised some startling questions about President Anthony Carmona's use of State funds, which remain unanswered.
Photo: University lecturer, author, blogger and radio talk show co-host Rhoda Bharath raised some startling questions about President Anthony Carmona’s use of State funds, which remain unanswered.

The digital information age is characterised by diverse voices expressing opinions on myriad platforms that communicate quickly to large audiences. Recent trends in journalism worldwide have seen stories breaking online. New media’s contribution to how we gather, report and produce information is the way of the present and future.

President Carmona appears out of touch with the urgent demands for accountability in 21st century Caribbean reporting and journalism.

Further, it is an affront to journalists nationwide to hold up the names of some of our distinguished colleagues to obfuscate and launch personal attacks against the daughters, sons and apprentices of Owen Baptiste, John Babb, and the late George John and Therese Mills.

We are sure that they, like us, would vehemently oppose the President Carmona’s expansive effort to shoot the messengers while ignoring legitimate public interest questions.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona. (Copyright News.gov.tt)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona.
(Copyright News.gov.tt)

AboutMATT Executive

The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago is the authorised representative body for local journalists in all formats.

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74 comments

  1. What allyuh doh want to admit is that his behavior is in keeping with the pervasive belief system ingrained in TT politics that public funds/property are the same as personal and publuc officials can do whatever he/she wants with them…. most of them on either side of the House are of the same mentality…is just that his outrage at being challenged is most egregious…

  2. Even in this modern times,there are laws for Kings AND com moners. Decide which one are you. I have mauby money thus sparkling marby is not my acquired taste. One must appreciate that it is innate in man to forget where their genesis lies,when tax payers must know their place and contribute to the heiarchy’s purse and waste of resources. I am not for or against the no.1 nor no.2 citizens,lest I fall victim of the sedition act” ah fraid Carl”. The no1 citizen can not be criticised as he is immortal, so people leave it alone and move on.

  3. Allyuh, remember when he was sworn in he say he have powers that you don’t know he have. Doh beat up.

  4. Matt go get bac to being in front of a door, thats where u belong.

  5. This is the best President this country has had, he and his family represents the true Racial mix of Trinidad and Tobago, he’s a very educated man, well spoken with class and culture, but the witch hunt is on to remove him…mainly because he’s a Gentleman with Charisma, and not a person form the gutter, so I say Mr President you do your job and the truth will set you apart form the rest, God bless him and his family.

  6. Yeh president is a lap dog for Kamlier

  7. So many supporters of wrong doers .. but then again .. this is a democratic country

  8. Really there is jest two options open up to you Mr. President. (A) Show transparency by divulging how those invisible sums of taxpayers money were spent and the case of the “sparkling wine” or (B) Choose to ignore and remain the tabloids’ top story for a good length of time. The choice is yours,my Laud!

  9. You know, this is where a good PR person could make money. But instead of commending ordinary citizens for listening to him (anybody care to recall his speeches?) by holding our office holders to a high level of accountability and transparency, he decides to attack the messenger. Smh. Keep in mind, with everything that is coming to light, this same office cancelled christmas party/ies for children last year to ‘cut costs’. Anybody recall that? So, again, I am asking if we can please be advised of what official functions were hosted by the office holder in the past year.

  10. This is the first president that is not fraid to open his mouth and speak,some of u will never understand that statement he made is because some of u have very small mind.

  11. Carmona’s speech was Friday, how did MATT respond so quickly, dey had ah river lime Saturday oh what?

  12. I could see the Wired headline already: “Carmona be-moaner: President Royally dresses down Frist Citizens on Republic Day”…

  13. She would have won points but the way she conducted herself makes me think that even Rachel Price who isn’t a lecturer is better!!!

  14. Earl Best

    There is now every chance that, as February 2017 approaches and the axe nears the nape of his neck, Carmona’s bills will go up. Astronomically if not exponentially. As one commentator on the radio put it unwittingly the other day, after September 2015, it’s not “unpresidented.”

  15. Powers is a desecrater of the highest other

  16. Is that how a university lecturer is supposed to conduct themselves?

  17. From the pic posted he probably believe that he is closer to god than us so he doesn’t have to answer squat. He is the annointed one.

  18. He just seem to be unable to difrenciate between the “Powers he has,from the Powers he thinks he has”…lol

  19. Why didn’t MATT issue a similar statement about “press freedom
    and the right of the public to know” when Ian Alleyne was fired for asking legitimate questions about Andrew’s wife??

  20. He’s not out of touch,he just fell in line with the modus operandi of the Kamla Persad Bisessar government.

    • Earl Best

      I fully agree. Jog your memory and recall what was his first public appearance after his swearing-in. On a platform in Laventille, methinks, and not even in the place of honour, which was reserved for PM KPB.

      But why does MATT allow for the misreading that Powers was “regretful?” (“Rather than demonstrating his commitment to transparency and accountability, President Carmona regretfully chose to smear the work of journalists seeking to hold public officials to account.”)

      I know what the dictionary says about modern usage but I would have opted for the completely unambiguous “regrettably” in this context.

  21. I don’t get your tags in my “pending posts” anymore for some reason