Home / View Point / Guest Columns / Demming: Open letter to Bliss Seepersad on ‘hidden hand of power’ that manipulated CoP Merit List

Demming: Open letter to Bliss Seepersad on ‘hidden hand of power’ that manipulated CoP Merit List

Dear Bliss,

On behalf of the Prime Minister and the people of Trinidad and Tobago, I apologise for any anxiety and pain you have experienced over the past six months because our Prime Minister refused to admit that he was the official who, on 12 August 2021, intervened and diverted your attention away from delivering the Merit List of candidates for the post of commissioner of police to the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Photo: President Paula-Mae Weekes (right) presents Police Service Commission chair Bliss Seepersad with her letter of appointment
(Copyright Office of the President)

That single action on his part led to the collapse of the Police Service Commission which you chaired, the President’s Office being viewed with a strong ‘side-eye’ and the further undermining of our citizens’ trust in public office.

Many persons who accept government appointments expect to bring their knowledge and expertise to make a positive difference to the running of the institution. Their roles and responsibilities are clearly outlined either in a statute, a legal document or in the State Enterprise Performance Manual as is the case with appointments to state boards. So, when a Chair comes across overt interference, (s)he is often blindsided.

In this case, I am sure you read and understood the following statement contained in your appointment document about the safeguards. ‘Commissions,’ it says, ‘are free from ministerial control.’

 You may also have taken seriously this statement: ‘The fundamental principles inherent in all the regulations are those of fairness, equality, and justice.’

Photo: Former Police Service Commission chair Bliss Seepersad takes the oath of office.
(Copyright Office of the President)

Well, Bliss, you now know that there is an expectation by whoever appoints citizens that you will not act according to the procedures outlined or according to what your board has decided but that you will simply carry out the instructions of the line minister.

You may not agree with me, but this action by our Prime Minister is a clear indication of how undemocratic our country has become. Led by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, our politicians feel that, once elected to office, they can take whatever action they want and even attempt to avoid scrutiny by suggesting to the media that the ‘rahrah’ is just noise.

If further confirmation were needed that there is a hidden hand of power manipulating every action taken in every sphere of life in our country, then this admission by our PM provides it.

No wonder the Procurement Act has been watered down. No wonder persons on boards are often lacking the basic competencies to lead anything. The fact that our PM felt empowered to stymie an official procedure and prevent the list from reaching the President of the Republic as provided makes me question his ethics and values.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and his wife Sharon Rowley (centre) are on hand to witness the country’s Independence Day Parade on 31 August 2018.
(Copyright Ministry of National Security)

Our democracy is under threat. Citizens need to take stock, take a stand and send a clear message that this is unacceptable.

The Prime Minister’s action in preventing the Merit List from reaching the President of the Republic came to public attention. But, I wonder, how many other legitimate actions have been thwarted by the Prime Minister or his ministers? How many contracts have been awarded because he so directed? How many appointments to prime jobs have been made because he took action?

My imagination can run wild.

Bliss, between 12 August 2021 and 14 March 2022, your reputation has taken a big hit. But, I wonder, has anything really changed after six months of a Shaggy-esque pretense that it wasn’t me and allowing speculation to run wild?

Yours in defence of our democracy,

Dennise Demming

About Dennise Demming

Dennise Demming
Dennise Demming grew up in East Dry River, Port of Spain and has more than 30 years experience as a Communication Strategist, Political Commentator and Event Planner. She has 15 years experience lecturing Business Communications at UWI and is the co-licensee for TEDxPortofSpain. Dennise holds an MBA, a B.Sc. in Political Science & Public Administration and a certificate Mass Communications from UWI.

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6 comments

  1. Are some commentators being modern day Pharisees who Jesus exposed for their illogical view that the owner of an ass could not rescue his animal from a ditch if the incident occurred on the a sabbath? With such damning information in his possession as Chairman of the National Security Council, it would have been gross dereliction of duty not to have promptly informed Bliss Seepersad of this development, especially due to the need to clarify that there were no security concerns with prospective candidates.
    The question needs to be asked why did GG apply knowing that he did not enjoy the confidence of the PM contrary to his statement that the PM simply had to inform him of such lack and he would walk away from the job.
    Questionable integrity on GG’s part. Is it that the man is power-hungry and prepared to grovel?

  2. Seems like the cogent, compelling and credible evidence of a well-oiled white collar criminal enterprise operating under the nose of Gary Griffith was not a threat to our democracy.
    Weapons ownership approved to businesses who were donors to the former CoP’s pet project,ISOP.
    No account from Gary Griffith as to how much items were donated or their value. Was cash ever received by Gary or persons acting on his behalf? Is there a bank account for ISOP? Who are the signatories?
    All these murky events and unanswered questions were and still are a threat to our democracy. Was a quasi-military organisation being formed by this Sandhurst-trained soldier?
    Ukranian President Zelensky could do with some of those weapons you approved, GG.

  3. Everyone is a saint until you call the right price. Desmond Tutu said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” ( 1931-2021 )

    I guess that is Bliss !!

  4. @Dennise, you will remember that a previous PM, namely, Patrick Manning, admitted on LIVE national television that he warned Calder Hart that the police were heading to his home to execute a search warrant.
    At the time, he didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with this but I believe that he was guilty of perverting the course of justice. [Perverting the course of justice is a scheduled offence S. (5) (5) (b) (ii) of the Bail Amendment Act 2015] ll our politicians, regardless of party, are children/products of our now entrenched “When I talk no damn dog bark” politics—the big sawatee, the big jefe, etc.
    In 1970, Black Power, the British Government intervened to prevent the then PM, Eric Williams, from excessive control of the free press. In fact, some of our top journalists of the day resigned their jobs standing on the Fairness Doctrine.
    My own belief is that this caused a fracture in the quality of our journalism. Etc., etc.

  5. Lasana Liburd

    My view is that if Bliss Seepersad and the PolSc needed that letter to see something was very wrong under the last Commissioner of Police, they were not doing their jobs properly.
    I also don’t see why passing on crucial knowledge is comparable to the ‘line minister’ ordering the chair. For instance, the Prime Minister formally advised PolSc a year earlier that he had lost confidence in the Commissioner of Police. The PolSC didn’t move to fire him and the Prime Minister didn’t take any retribution on them for not doing so. So what made this time different?
    Could it just be that Bliss Seepersad was moved by the information she received rather than the fact that it was provided by the Prime Minister?
    I agree that the Prime Minister could have waited for Griffith’s nomination to reach Parliament and deal with it there. But I also believe it is a travesty that it took so long to deal with GG.