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COP members, don’t be misled

Saturday, September 8, 2012

As a founding senior member of the COP I am very concerned over the proposed motion of vice chairman Vernon De Lima demanding that the PM terminate the services of Jack Warner as a cabinet member. Attorney Vernon De Lima, now anointed Senior Council, should appreciate the cardinal concept in law—that a person is innocent until proven guilty or that there is something called natural justice.



What is even more confusing for me is that no charges have been laid against Jack Warner in Trinidad or anywhere else in the world at present. Yet Mr De Lima seems to have prejudged the entire career of Jack Warner and now wishes to force his opinion on the entire membership of the Congress of the People and by extension, the people of Trinidad and Tobago.


One wonders if during his distinguished career, Mr De Lima used this type of logic when representing the interest of his clients. Since Mr De Lima purports to be a man of high moral authority, capable of determining the ethical standards of politics, he ought to examine his own personal career to determine if he is qualified to do so.


Mr De Lima has promised that if allegations, whether justified or not, are made against Mr Warner then he should step down. I am confident that the maturity of COP members is such that Mr De Lima will be forced to eat his words and be the one to step down as vice chairman of COP.


The requests being imposed on us by Mr Vernon De Lima have not only the effect of forcing the hands of the COP political leader, who himself is an attorney and is familiar with the law, principles of natural justice and the presumption of innocence, but upon the entire COP membership.


Mr De Lima’s motion is that although there are no current charges or matters relating to Jack Warner before FIFA, he ought not to hold office unless he is cleared by FIFA. FIFA already determined the matter upon Jack Warner’s resignation and chose to proceed no further based on its own findings and legal advice.



The mention of Jack Warner in the decision of Court of Arbitration for Sport of Mr Bin Hamman is no decision or ruling against Jack Warner. Any adverse comments against Jack Warner must be understood in the context that Warner proved himself to be his own man; a characteristic guaranteed to anger the power elite. The smear campaign against Jack Warner at home and abroad is clearly designed to denigrate a man, who by dint of legendary work ethic, talent and ingenuity, has risen to the highest echelons of public service and private enterprise.


The relationship of the Congress of the People and the United National Congress has improved considerably over the last few months and it was the hope and desire of the wider membership that the relationship would continue to improve and extend to embrace all citizens. Internal debate and criticism in the People’s Partnership is necessary and healthy, but De Lima’s reckless and selfish act does nothing to improve an existing relationship with the UNC and even the COP membership internally; nor does it do anything to improve governance in Trinidad and Tobago.


Maybe Mr De Lima needs to be reminded of Jack Warner’s journey from humble beginnings of a special reserve police officer and teacher, rising to the ranks of vice president of one of the most powerful organisations in the world. Warner’s own life illustrates to poor youth of our country what can be achieved by industry, ambition, patriotic service and aptitude.


COP members must consider the fact that Jack Warner’s success and influence have generated international envy and jealousy from those, who have for years tried to relentlessly destroy him and continue to do so. What Jack Warner has done in his career internationally and nationally exceeds that of most citizens. He is working towards a better country and making every effort to unite the different ethnic groups that make up our beloved T&T. The ability to build national unity across ethnic and class divisions is quality that is rare among most politicians.


Trinidad and Tobago needs a politician and Minister of National Security like Jack Warner. We are in times of great change and we need dynamic persons to support the prime minister to lead and shape the future of the country.
I trust that the membership of the Congress of the People will not allow its focus and direction to be tainted with the ambitions of Mr De Lima whose irrelevance to the present burning needs of the country is about to be made manifest to all.


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