UNC shouldn’t gloat over minister’s arrest

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THE United National Congress (UNC) lacks the moral authority to even so much as gloat in reaction to the news of the arrest of Minister Marlene McDonald.

Where was that party’s sense of ‘grave concern’ when allegations of financial impropriety and more were being levelled at its main powerbroker and former chairman, Jack Warner?

How ‘alarmed’ were its members when a seemingly neverending procession of ministers came and went between 2010 and 2015?

Even now, its concerns ring insincere, sanctimonious and facetious, as little has changed with respect to that party’s relationship to the law or, for that matter, to reality as well.

It is telling that its pronouncements on the matter have been more in the vein of ‘how it go look?’ rather than one that encourages and supports the rule of law and the need for due process.

It is justifiable to believe the UNC is unconcerned about the optics of retaining the chairman of the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation Glen Ram (an individual, it should be noted, who was appointed and not duly elected) in spite of his arrest for allegedly soliciting bribes from his burgesses.

Similarly, little has been said regarding the fact that Roodal Moonilal is the subject of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit brought by the Government with respect to the alleged acquisition of lands at Eden Gardens.

In these instances, as well as the more infamous ones concerning its former attorney general and its AG-in-waiting, the UNC default position has not been one of acknowledging the rule of law, or to insist no man (or woman) should be above the law-but, rather, it has been to cast aspersions on the accusers, the investigators and the prosecutors themselves, in an attempt to have the matter tried publicly rather than in a court of law.

Just recently, we had the case of allegations about hundreds of millions of dollars being misappropriated in the acquisition of land and property for the Point Fortin Highway project.

True to form, instead of welcoming the announced commission of enquiry-which, should they be innocent, would lead to their vindication-the Opposition instead chose to malign and discredit the process rather than frontally address the allegations.

Until, at the very minimum, charges are laid and more facts are known, the prime minister and the Government are not obliged to act or to speak out with respect to Thursday’s events. Not only because further action at this time is unwarranted, but due to the fact that this is still an ongoing investigation and what is said and/or done now could have an impact on its outcome.

At the end of the day, Minister McDonald is not above the law. And the same applies to any minister-past, present or future. Let us, therefore, allow due process to take its course. And in the end, let justice be served without fear or favour.

The UNC can choose to paint these events with any brush it can find handy, but it will not change the fact that ultimately the minister’s detention proves two things: first, that justice in T&T is alive and well and, more importantly, it remains free of the interference of the political directorate; and, secondly, that this Government respects the rule of law and fully supports the fair and equitable dispensation of justice in this country.

Let the chips fall where they may.

George Elias St Ann’s