Friday, December 11, 2009
A Trini 2D Bone... Request for Help..
To Ensure Justice Be Served And The Guilty Sanctioned
Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. -John Wooden
Below is a Facebook note written by someone I respect and admire for her dogged determination to assist in any way possible to eliminate all forms of corruption in Trinidad and Tobago. There are too many citizens who have become apathetic and accept viral programming like "we like it so" and "nuttin will change". Others just offer verbos protest while actually becoming a part of the problem.
Margaret Rose is different and this post is intended to support her. This is NOT her cause, it's the future of Trinidad and Tobago. That future is no longer in "bookbags of our nation's children" but now it rest plump in the hearts of people like Margaret Rose. Her note follows...
By Margaret Rose
Was having an early dinner with a couple of friends yesterday and as is quite predictable in these times, the subject of the UDeCOTT Commission of Enquiry came up. Once again I was regaled with the resounding and unwavering opinion that "NOTHING WILL COME OUT OF IT!!" "Margaret you are naive to think anything will come of this!".
I groaned internally as I felt the usual frustration that I feel every time I hear this sentiment expressed. I mean, that is not to say that I do not understand why people think so. We are completely disillusioned in this society. We feel because of what has happened in the past there is no way that something different could happen in the future. Sigh.. Here is what I think and I hope that you take the time to read this short note and to pass it on.
The purpose of the Commission
It is clear to me, as I speak to persons that there is a basic misunderstanding about the purpose of a Commission, and this misunderstanding then fuels unrealistic expectations and consequential disappointment. I wrote a piece on this in September 09 at The Corruption Blogspot when it was felt that the Commission had collapsed and I will just paste an excerpt from it below:
"In order to assess the success or otherwise of a Commission of Enquiry one needs to appreciate the purpose of such a body. Under the Commission of Enquiry Act Chap.19.01 the President of Trinidad and Tobago has the power to appoint such a Commission to enquire into the conduct of any officer in the public service in Trinidad and Tobago, the conduct or management of any department of the public service or of any public or local institution, or into any matter in which an enquiry would, in the opinion of the President, be for the public welfare.
Contrary to widely held belief, a Commission of Enquiry is not a body established to determine who is guilty of either a criminal or civil wrong. It is not a necessary precursor to charging someone and it does not result in charges being laid. Very simply a Commission of Enquiry is one which is established as the ultimate citizen's accountability mechanism to satisfy their need to know the facts on an issue which is of serious public concern.
After the publication of the report the executive may do with it what it sees fit. Neither the President nor the Prime Minister are statutorily bound to accept the findings or follow the recommendations. This factor seems to be consistently missed and this factor alone results in many of the uninformed expectations of a Commission of Enquiry.
A Commission of Enquiry must be distinguished from judicial proceedings or the criminal justice system and must never be viewed as a substitute therefor. Commissions are in fact largely viewed as inappropriate to investigate alleged criminal conduct.
.......Commissions can be particularly useful in uncovering the systems, methods and procedures used by corrupt officials which processes are usually not the focus of conventional criminal investigations which are more focused on obtaining proof of the illegal act itself. Commissioners are usually experts in the relevant fields and can give constructive recommendations to prevent the recurrence of the impugned activity. A Commission is expected to investigate and come to grips with what happened, why it happened and who is responsible for causing it to happen. It must do more than place facts on the table and consider the most appropriate remedy or solution to address the problem".
If one appreciates the above, then one will readily see that in commissions in the past and the present one, quite a bit has already been achieved. Facts have been unearthed, serious governance gaps and weaknesses have been demonstrated and it is now for each of us in the society to take what we have learned and apply it in our respective positions. We all have a part to play. It is the responsibility of each of us. Public servants can now see how their actions are viewed when a spotlight is placed on them and allow that to inform their future conduct.
Politicians can see the reaction and tolerance level of the citizens to the actions of their agents and also see where they need to strengthen their own ability to control their agents. Professionals can use the information when they advise their clients and citizens can use it in their every day lives interacting with public agencies and in exercising their democratic rights. A commission is a massive public awareness exercise - public education.
Many people's lives are changed by commissions. Mr.Victor Hart, Chairman of TTTI, who was a Commissioner in the Piarco Airport Development Enquiry was so impassioned about anti-corruption by his experience as a Commissioner that he pledged his support and became a member of Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute and has since then worked tirelessly to raise public awareness and contribute to the strengthening and reform of our laws relating to procurement and anti-corruption.
My own story is similar, after being appointed counsel to the said Piarco enquiry, my passion and calling in the law became clear to me and since then, I too joined the Transparency Institute, committed to anti-corruption work, co-founded the Caribbean Procurement Institute and the Caribbean Association of Procurement Professionals and we have been training public sector officials throughout the Caribbean and now Africa.
Victor and I are not unique individuals whose life course was significantly impacted by a Commission of Enquiry. Since then Civil Society voice in TT has developed tremendously,Governments changed and many many people (too numerous to mention) are working tirelessly and faithfully behind the scenes trying to build a better TT. Trying to be part of the solution as opposed to adopting a defeatist attitude.. ahh nothing will come of our efforts..
All of that to say - what is really the true purpose of this note - we have the power to change our circumstances in Trinidad and Tobago. If we look around us at the society that we have built - every single aspect of it, from the buildings we live in, the clothes we wear, the schools we attend, the businesses we build - all of it starts with someone thinking it can be done this way. Every single thing starts with a thought.
We, the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are co-creators of our society. Every time someone says "Nothing will come of this enquiry" that is exactly the future that that person is creating for themselves, our country and our children, because someone with that view, will act accordingly. This makes it so much more difficult for those of us who are trying to make a difference and create a different society.
The bible says lest you become as a child you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus Christ said that the kingdom of heaven is right here within us and if we have faith as little as a mustard seed we can move a mountain. Let us move our mountains with faith in ourselves as co-creators of our society. We are not powerless. Our actions today will dictate our future.
And this is not about Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, New Age. The fact that each of us is a co-creator of our society and that our actions are first dictated by our thoughts are not biblical principles only but universal spiritual principles across all beliefs. Even an atheist accepts his own power to make choices and create one's own future.
I encourage all in TT - to please stop saying nothing will come of the Commission of Enquiry into UDeCOTT and the construction sector. Every time you say it - thats is what you are putting out in terms of creative energy. It makes it all the more difficult for those of us who are trying to create a different result. We need an overwhelming surge of positive energy (critical mass) in respect of the COE from everyone in society or at the very least as much of it as we can get - because we are fully aware of the energy certain other elements of society, which are fully resourced, are putting out to make nothing come of it.
If some of us had held to the view that nothing would come of it - we would not have even accomplished what we have done so far. It was during the cross examination of Calder Hart by Gilbert Peterson SC on behalf of Dr. Rowley that the fact that Calder Hart's fax number was on the CH Development letterhead and used to indicate acceptance of the 368M contract, came out.
If you are a patriot of TT and desirous of a better future - please help us to continue to bring to light critical information which can be used in subsequent investigations by having faith that evil does not always triumph over good and that you are NOT powerless in the face of it.
Our country is at a critical point in its history. What will you accept? What choice will you make? Please pass this note on.
Thank you Margaret for being in the frontline of the fight. We are with you.
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