Reference is made to the news item ‘Integrity Commission clears T&T PM’ (July 30). This outcome is not surprising to me or to most of the population on the island. It is common sense, and the population concurred with the ruling long before it was made. I was surprised this complaint, rather than something more relevant, was made by the opposition as it was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar stayed at a private residence of a friend, Ralph Gopaul, during the elections campaign last year May and June. A complaint to the Integrity Commission was filed by the opposition PNM in February, contending that the PM violated the Integrity in Public Life Act. The PNM could have made more relevant complaints instead of seizing on a trivial matter.
I conducted an opinion poll in Trinidad last February asking respondents whether they felt the PM staying at someone’s private home was a violation of her integrity. The overwhelming response from some 600 individuals was no; only a marginal 10% said yes. The findings were published in all three of the island’s major publications. People also said they expected the Integrity Commission to toss out the complaint, which they did last week, some five months after the poll was conducted.
The PM, like any public figure, has friends and if she spends time with them or eats at their home or takes a ride in their vehicle, that is not a violation of her oath to office. That was not what the legislation was intended to prevent.
The legislation is meant for a corrupt tit-for-tat transaction. In other words, an official receives a benefit and in return rewards the donor with a state handout. That was not charged or proven.