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HomeInsightsConcerns about political tenure, partisan operation in Trinidad and Tobago

Concerns about political tenure, partisan operation in Trinidad and Tobago

 

Dear Sir:

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s announcement that the State will be appealing the High Court’s ruling which declared certain parts of the Sedition Act unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect raises serious concerns about the political tenure and the very partisan operation of the office of the attorney general.

Is this attorney general saying that he agrees with an old statute of the law which imposes disproportionate and unjustified restrictions on a citizen’s free speech, expression and thought?

The lawsuit was initiated by the late Sat Maharaj, former secretary-general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS). The Court has struck down sections 3 & 4 of this very colonial age sedition legislation and instead of accepting that this was indeed an antiquated piece of legislation which his administration has been using to suppress the voices and rights of citizens, Al-Rawi is claiming that the ruling can have a ripple effect with serious implications concerning our inherited laws from our colonial past.

This legislation has given the Keith Rowley-led People National Movement (PNM) administration the tool it needs to carry out any type of political witch-hunt it wants against any citizen who opposes the government’s political policies and decisions.

Maharaj’s attorney, former attorney-general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, has already signalled that his and his team will demonstrate to the Court of Appeal that such an appeal will be frivolous and not likely to succeed at the Privy Council.

Faris Al-Rawi has failed woefully over the past 52 months that he has occupied the office of attorney-general. His incompetence and arrogance have only been overshadowed by his extra-large ego.

He has done an absolute injustice to that office and some of his predecessors from the PNM such as the late Karl Hudson-Phillips QC, Selwyn Richardson, Russel Martineau, Glenda Morean, and the late Keith Sobion must all be wondering just what was the criteria that Rowley used to select and keep Faris Al-Rawi as attorney-general.

Generally speaking, one usually will ask a lawyer which case you have lost in his/her career; in Faris’s tenure as attorney-general, the question will be “which case has he won.”

The State has been racking up losses after losses in the courts, paying out literally hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments and court costs. Perhaps this figure, under Faris Al-Rawi, has crossed the $1 billion dollar amount.

Faris Al-Rawi is as partisan as can be; his first interest is to protect the PNM. How can he justify discontinuing the case against Malcolm Jones that was filed by Petrotrin under the Peoples Partnership government where Jones was sued for more than $1 BILLION in losses that had to be paid by Petrotrin as a result of the failed Gas to Liquids Project?

How can he justify his refusal to pursue the February 2019 Privy Council’s judgment in favour of the State against Ken Julien and five former directors of State-owned eTECK for a US$5 million lawsuit against them dismissed over a failed deal from 2005?

Today, I want to challenge Faris Al-Rawi.

His immediate announcement of appealing the High Court’s decision has nothing to do with the law but rather attempting to bolster [your] oversized ego. He is prepared to commit further millions of taxpayer’s monies to fund an appeal to this judgment.

Faris should step up and tell the country that he will personally pay for the State’s appeal; he can afford it. Why not “give back” to Trinidad and Tobago… ‘his family has received and continues to receive millions of dollars from the State for property rentals.’

If the State wins the case and the court awards the State costs, then the State should pay him back for funding this appeal.

Capil Bissoon

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