Parliament gives support to former national security minister for top police position

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The Trinidad and Tobago Parliament Monday gave the green light to the Police Service Commission (PSC) to appoint former national security minister Gary Griffith as the new police commissioner even though his former colleagues abstained in the vote.
Griffith, who was dismissed as national security minister by then prime minister Kamla Persad Bissessar in 2015 amid the controversy over allegations that former attorney general Anand Ramlogan had sought to pervert the course of justice, failed to receive the support of the opposition legislators.

Gary Griffith

According to the voting in the Parliament, 19 members of the government, who were present voted in support of Griffith, a former captain in the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, while the 13 opposition legislators who were present abstained. There were no votes against the nomination.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley had defended the decision of his administration to support for the former government minister, saying he had also instructed members of the ruling People’s National Movement) (PNM) to vote freely in the exercise.
On three previous occasions, the government had used its majority to vote against three other nominees including the Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, who had placed third on the merit list as approved by the PSC.
Parliament had earlier this year accepted the report of a Select Committee of the Parliament that found the procedure followed by the PSC to be  “unsound, unsafe, unsatisfactory and illogical” in seeking a replacement for Canadian Dwayne Gibbs, who resigned as Police Commissioner in 2012. Williams has been acting in the post since then.
Opposition legislators had staged a walkout prior to the vote on the acceptance of the report of the Select Committee, insisting that Deodat Dulalchan, an Indo-Trinidadian with 38 years of service, who had been recommended for the position by the PSC, be given the job.
Rowley told legislators Monday that his administration had been given a mandate by the population in the 2015 general election to ensure the post of Police Commissioner be filled and recalled that the former administration had terminated Gibbs appointment and for “reasons known by them” refused to enact the procedure to ensure his successor his selected.
“It is unacceptable to not have a substantive appointee,’ Rowley said defending also the decision of his administration to vote against Dulalchan and the second placed person on the PSC merit list.
“Under no circumstance we would appoint someone who did not apply for the job to the position,” Rowley said, insisting that the exercise on Monday is in keeping with the law.
“It is the law, we will do nothing that will (have) the government’s action to be challenged in the (court),” he said, insisting that “I have no name horse in the race”.
However, Opposition Legislator, Dr. Roodal Moonilal, the only opposition legislator to speak on the motion, said while the opposition considered their former colleague to be suited for the position, it was strange that the government was still proceeding on the matter when it had deemed the process to be flawed in the first instance.
“If the process was flawed for one, how can it be good for another,” Moonilal said, outlining the achievements Griffith had during the tenure of the People’s Partnership government when he served also as an advisor to Persad Bissessar.
Moonilal said that the opposition was also perturbed that Griffith, who is a witness in the case of seeking to pervert the course of justice against Ramlogan, would be chosen for the top police post.
But Rowley, the only government speaker on the motion, said that he found it “amazing that a Member of Parliament would come to the House and say a person who is a witness against someone…that is a basis for the person to not get the position”,.
He insisted that the statement by Moonilal was intended to “muddy the water”.
In February 2015, Griffith said he had been fired from his post because he stood for principle and urged young people in Trinidad and Tobago that they should never “sell your soul for personal gain or for 30 pieces of silver”.
“I did what was right, I could hold my head proud, I can walk and know that I did what was required. Certain persons apparently was not pleased by what I intended to do and I intend to continue to operate in that manner. I will always be a solder first before a politician…and I am very pleased and proud with what I have done,” said the former captain in the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment.
“My parents, God bless their souls, I think they will be very proud of me, I ask young persons do not ever sell your soul for personal gains. Do what is right, I think it is time politicians in this country start operating in the same manner,” he said.

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