the role of host for Tuesdays awards ceremony for former
Soca Warriors coach Leo Beenhakker, it appeared that President
George Maxwell Richards was completely focused on toasting
the Dutchman and his work with the national team.
But an hour after the festivities, as Richards walked away
to his office with his military escort, his head bowed and
appearing deep in thought, he seemed burdened with some matter
much larger than football achievements.
Hours later it was revealed that, even as Richards smoothly
conducted the necessary honours for Beenhakker, he must have
also been balancing his plans to address the nation later
that night on the issue involving Chief Justice Satnarine
Richards echoed the concerns of many with his position on
the precedents now being set by the situation
and its effects on the publics confidence levels where
the justice system was concerned.
Richards declared with great purpose that certain courses
of action are immediately required as a matter of necessity
in defence of the rule of law and the proper administration
of justice in T&T.
Whether or not in reaction to Richardss statement (and
previous meetings with the President prior to the address),
CJ Sharma had the following day adjusted his portfolio.
It is also uncertain whether this was part of the measured
action to which Richards alluded in his address or intended.
But Sharmas move appeared to open him up to scrutiny
where section 103 of the Constitution was concerned. (See
However, yesterdays development with the appointment
of Appeal Court Justice Roger Hamel-Smith to act as Chief
Justice seemed more clearly part of Richards measured
Richards has said his measured action must be
no more than that which is absolutely necessary to restore
the confidence of the citizenry in the rule of law and the
administration of justice.
But even as the Hamel-Smith development may have resolved
an aspect of the Sharma controversyparticularly for
the PNM Governmentit has also caused the Opposition,
for one, to look askance at Richards, wondering at some possible
entrapment where he was concerned.
If Richards had appeared as the nations saving grace
on Tuesday, he seemed by yesterday, in the Oppositions
eyes, to be a victim of alleged PNM manipulation in the issue.
Certain very high-profile careers may remain affectedindeed
taintedby the entire episode .
In last weeks developments also, glaringly large differences
between some of the highest members of the law fraternity
and the State were underscored in very publicand distastefulairings.
The fighting words in those quarters were also mirrored in
former Prime Minister Basdeo Pandays statements on the
Sharma issue with which he chose to return to the front.
His statements, however, appear to have served him less well
in this instance than previously, with a population wearied
somewhat by the drama of the CJ issue.
Pandays reported statements about protest demonstrations
catapulted the T&T Chamber, for one, into summoning an
emergency meeting last Saturday with East/West business groups.
But the chamber, now led by president Ian Welch, did not succeed
in getting the groups to speak out against Pandays statement
solely. Welch is also chairman of the Sports Ministrys
Local Organising Committee for the Cricket World Cup.
Some groups recently questioned the sectors silence
on the Sharma issue and, at Saturdays meeting, several
expressed the view this should also be dealt with along with
Pandays statements, officials said.
Key chamber officials recently told some sectors that the
chamber would not comment on the Sharma matter since
it was not a business issue.
The Group of 21, spearheaded by the chamber, has reduced weekly
meetings on the crime situation to every six weeks instead,
due to lack of resources on the part of the larger northwest
groups to facilitate meetings continuously, members confirmed.
Contentions also arose in the body when some groups pressed
to have the focus extended to national issues, a position
the T&T Chamber resisted but was outvoted on recently,
UNCs Panday, meanwhile, was still focusing up to yesterday
on trying to bring UNC leader Winston Dookeran back into the
fold, via another meeting.
Up to 5 pm yesterday, Panday had not succeeded in reaching
Dookeran, it was confirmed.
Following all that has transpired, the Dookeran camp chose
to adopt a publicly sceptical approach to Pandays move
to heal the rift and Dookeran himself commented on the unity
call indirectly while pressing on with his view on forming
a new national congress.
Mondays two and a half hour meeting between both men,
sources said, ended with no decision or direction from Dookeran.
spoke little and asked how they were to resolve the situation,
saying they had to talk about the leadership. He asked to
ponder the situation but presented no conditions and only
complained that he was not being allowed to lead the party,
indirectly inferring also that Panday himself was still wielding
some control, they noted.
Some executive members said yesterday they were uncertain
if the effort would bear fruit because of a perceived hardened
position by Dookerans team.
Dookeran may be accepted as Opposition Leaderone of
his concerns recentlyis uncertain due to the polarised
situation. Even if this works, it may only be temporarily
and may seem for cosmetic purposes, one source added.
However, senior members of Dookerans camp were anxious
yesterday to stamp out the perception that the meeting between
Panday and Dookeran would not continue.
UNC deputy leader Jack Warner for one has minced no words
on Pandays move and his uncertainty that it will work.
He returns to his longtime home of Longdenville on Monday
night to launch a campaign to fight the Chaguanas East seat.
However, a mutual love-fest of sorts took place earlier in
the week between Warner and the PNMon sports.
Warner, who lashes the PNM evenly when on the platform, was
in a more benign mood after Sundays meeting with Prime
Minister Patrick Manning on sports development.
At the functions for Beenhakker, Warner even quoted Manning
on the benefit of sport to T&T and repeated Mannings
advice to the Soca Warriors to save and invest.
In turn, Sports Minister Roger Boynes, representing the Government,
gushed to overflowing about Warner and the team.
(It was saved from being saccharin-bordering-on-diabetes-inducing
by the fact that Warner is a fitness enthusiast and Boynes
jogs up four flights of stairs to his office daily.)
But despite the love-in, Warner said yesterday: I have
no plans to become trapped by the PNM.