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posted 11 Jul 2013, 19:15 by Gerry Kangalee
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN) calls on the Prime Minister to immediately investigate the allegations that members of her Cabinet are directly involved in intimidation tactics at the Trinidad Guardian. The Prime Minister must not only investigate these matters but must take decisive swift action against any Minister who was involved. Nothing less will be acceptable if our first female Prime Minister is to rekindle any credibility as a leader as her first term draws to an end. 
On May 3rd 2013 the Prime Minister announced the Cabinet’s decision to amend the Libel and Defamation Act in keeping with commitments to the International Press Institute. At that time the Prime Minister hailed “This historical removal (as) further evidence of the Government’s commitment to an independent, free and fair press in our great nation”. The continued antagonistic relationship between this administration and large sections of the media makes these pronouncements extremely hollow. 
The Prime Minister’s comment that “I know nothing, I didn’t even know what you told me today and at no point have I ever spoken to anyone there or threatened or in any way intimidated anyone from my Government. I am not aware of any such thing,” is insufficient coming from the leader of our Government.
Let us recall in the past that the PM’s previous claims of ignorance had been espoused during the Reshmi Ramnarine appointment, the Sasha “Janice Thomas” Mohammed email threats, the allegations levelled against her former Minister of National Security (which now finds favour with the UNC on the campaign trail), the section 34 debacle and most recently the firetruck fiasco. FITUN cannot accept that the leader of the Partnership is oblivious of the actions of those persons for whom she has direct supervisory responsibility.

It is also noteworthy that the allegations extend to the directors at the ANSA Groups of Companies who are accused of acceding to the requests of the government Ministers in order to protect private financial interests. If this is in fact true, FITUN also condemns the role of the business interests in undermining such a key institution in our democracy.

However while these allegations remain unsubstantiated the walkout by several employees cannot be ignored. These individuals, Dr. Sheila Rampersad, Ms. Denyse Renne and Ms. Anika Gumbs-Sandiford all have proven track records and therefore their action to resign from the Guardian and place their journalistic integrity first ought to force the most thorough investigation to bring the truth into the public. 
The Prime Minister at this time must realise that her credibility and legacy as the first female Prime Minister are waning with every fiasco and debacle which she presides over, not because they occur but because of her indifference and inability to show calculated and precise active leadership in these moments. The country will not accept anything less than a swift investigation which leads to her reigning in her rogue Ministers. Otherwise the logical conclusion will be that their actions have her endorsement. Time to stand up Madam PM the country is watching.

Original signed by

Joseph Remy President
Gerry Kangalee,
11 Jul 2013, 19:32