‘In the current exchange on the Integrity Commission, my focus was on compliance with the law’

Dear Editor,
I refer to Mr Christopher Ram’s letter of February 8, in the Sunday Stabroek.
Mr Christopher Ram incorrectly suggests that I am a spinner; I am a batsman! He is not paying attention to my ‘scores’! And I am amused by his possible implied ethnic allusion, Ramadin (Indian) and Valentine (African); but little does he know that I do not fit the implied ethnic category! I hope Mr Ram makes note of my consistently high ‘scores’ as well as getting my race/ethnic category in the right order, so as to avoid any future confusion. Let me now get to work!

It is not surprising to me that Mr Ram would identify merely one person as my work colleague, when there are so many others with whom I interface and with whom I work on a daily basis.

I do have an interest in organizational behaviour, and certainly, Mr Ram’s ‘accounting’ organization, among others, could easily fall within my purview of prospectively engaging in interface functions. And so, Mr Ram has not begun to effectively capture the nature, scope, and spirit of my total work environment! It really is unseemly to speculate on motivational aspects of my work; talk to me if you want to have a sense of what I do. And please do not impute motivations for my work. It is not appropriate.

I begrudgingly indulge in this preamble in the context of his ‘spin’ remark that the Integrity Commission including the secretariat with only one accounts clerk, cannot execute routine administration and effect its mandate. He implicitly questions the functionality of the Integrity Commission. He presents no evaluatory and evidentiary basis for these remarks pertaining to the Integrity Commission’s current work context.

In order to determine the Integrity Commission’s current effectiveness, we may have to review the variables relating to its functioning as well as its problems and achievements from both a behavioural and social system perspective. In addition, assessment tools may have to measure a combination of relevant evaluation types – economic impact, impact evaluation, basic evaluation, analytic evaluation, operative evaluation, evaluation of results, traditional, and personnel. Take your pick!
I am not aware that Mr Ram effected such an exercise on the current operations of the Integrity Commission. Apparently, then, Mr Ram’s remarks on the functioning aspects of the Integrity Commission are way out of line, in terms of grounding and judgment.

And then he tells me about Bradford & Associates’ recommendations; I am well aware of Bradford & Associates’ recommendations. His contention seems to be that the Bradford & Associates’ imprint is not yet implanted on the Integrity Commission, as a fair amount of time has elapsed since the report’s birth.

The Bradford & Associates’ report is a ‘report’; it is not the law of the land! and the Integrity Commission operates under the legal framework of the Integrity Commission Act of 1997. The Integrity Commission is functioning under this legal jurisdiction as it should and must. And routine administration to support execution of the Integrity Commission’s mandate continues apace.

And Mr Ram ought not to engage in superfluous didactics pertaining to the President’s timing for sounding the alarm bell; as President, he can sound the alarm bell at any time of his choosing to enhance appropriate compliance with the law. And it is unfortunate that Mr Ram would refer to the Integrity Commission as in a ‘still-born state’ when it is functioning, and relevant public officers continue to receive their ‘integrity’ packages, among other things. Look, in the current exchange on the Integrity Commission, my focus was on compliance with the law. Take a peek: “And it seems to me that the President’s intent in publicizing the need for MPs as well as other relevant personnel to comply with the Integrity Commission Act 1997, was a calculation to bring into the fold greater compliance with the integrity law, especially considering that MPs are the lawmakers of this land… But instead of seeing the bigger picture pertaining to compliance with the law by any personnel in violation, we saw the usual political wrangling taking centre stage. The focus was on some kind of 2-week ultimatum rather than the need to marshall forces to reach 100 per cent compliance. This usual bickering is not new, same old same − does the President have the right to sound the alarm bell on non-compliance? Were the present commissioners legally appointed? Would the declarations reach the wrong hands?”

And then there was the Corbin court action argument that with court action pending,  compliance with the law was not necessary. Take another peek: “As I previously remarked, Mr Corbin’s attempt to hide within the parameters of the High Court’s judgment does not forestall the functioning of the Integrity Commission; the work of this body goes on! Mr Corbin can run but cannot hide for long behind his court action.

This logic suggests that if all institutions are bogged down in court hearings and pending court judgments, then these institutions will cease functioning, the government will close off business, and the entire country will shut down. His argument is ludicrous!

“Awaiting the High Court’s judgment does not imply that the current appointments are illegal, and therefore, the Integrity Commission will continue to function; I am unaware of any court action that has deemed the commission to be illegal and that it should stop functioning.” This being the case, all declarations from all relevant public officials have to be consummated in a timely manner. And so, I am glad that Mr Ram believes that my point is valid in this context, in that all relevant parties have to comply with the law.

And look, whether it is the Bradford & Associates’ Report, or the Christopher Ram Report, or Mr Nobody’s Report, or Mr Moral’s Report, the Integrity Commission still has to function under the Integrity Commission Act of 1997. So let us not camouflage the need for compliance with the law with the perceived status of recommendations. Compliance with the law is not predicated on recommendations, however useful the recommendations are; plus, I have not pronounced on the Bradford & Associates’ Report.

And again, recommendations or no recommendations, the Integrity Commission as a legal entity forges ahead.
And so, it is unfortunate that every time a person’s statement supports this government’s line, that person is branded a ‘spinner.’ And so, many good people are rhetorically provided with this inane and scurrilous label of ‘spinner.’ How about if the statement is correct? What if I consistently brand the other person’s line against the government as ‘spin.’ Look, what is quite serious is that the whole question of internal validity, objectivity, and fundamental fairness are on the missing list for these providers of the ‘spinner’ sticker. Mr Ram’s ‘spin’ is not producing results, and so, it’s time for him to try another tactic. But he may need to work out his strategy first prior to formulating a tactic.

Oops, I believe there is something called the ‘internet’, and, indeed, the Trinidad Guardian’s URL exists. And you are reading too much into my note on your election campaign quest for 2011! Lighten up a little!

I did not even address here the issue of institution building. Here comes my next piece!
Yours faithfully,
Prem Misir

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