STORY by RAVI BALGOBIN MAHARAJ
Never before have I heard a Prime Minister boast about his ignorance regarding events taking place in a Government office, while actively resisting the urge to gain any further enlightenment on the matter. Such is the case in which Dr Rowley found himself, however, while being grilled on the Darryl Smith non-report during the post-Cabinet press briefing. It was only at times when this approach was failing him, did Dr Rowley turn to legalese as a means of legitimising his callowness. It is a shame therefore, that no one in the media used the opportunity to point out to the Prime Minister that in a legal matter, ignorance cannot be used as a defence.
The frustrating part of Dr Rowley’s response to the affair is that he somehow considers Darryl Smith current portfolio as a felicitous punishment for any wrongdoing in his capacity as a Minister. That being said, this is as a result of the Prime Minister adamantly refusing to probe the matter any further out of fear of what such an inquiry may divine. One would have thought that it was for this purpose that the three-person committee was commissioned, but given the response to their non-report, it appears to just be more of the taxpayer’s dollars well wasted by this PNM administration. Further, in the wake of this non-report Dr Rowley has taken the position of “I don’t know and I don’t want to know”, as such, we should not expect any further investigation on the part of his administration.
This all being said, there were two instances where Dr Rowley almost betrayed the secrecy, he appeared so adamant to protect. The first was when he stopped short of revealing the person responsible for instructing officers of the Ministry in impropriety, and the second was when he suggested that the report on Darryl Smith was unusable because the committee went “too far” in their findings. Because both of these revelations appear to suggest criminal conduct on the part of Mr Smith, but of course, that places a responsibility on the Prime Minister to commence a police investigation into the matter, and Dr Rowley appears hesitant to subject a second member of the Government bench to such a debacle.
The message that Dr Rowley has sent to his Cabinet, the Public Service and the nation at large is that he simply does not care about these transgressions from his colleagues, so long as they can keep it quiet. In the case of Darryl Smith therefore, Dr Rowley is satisfied with the conclusion of the other individual being paid off for her silence, which is guaranteed by her non-disclosure agreement. If this is justice served in the eyes of Dr Rowley, one need not wonder why crime continues unabated in the rest of the country.