New integrity board within a fortnight
PORT OF SPAIN — President Anthony Carmona is assuring citizens that a new Integrity Commission board will be appointed within the next two weeks.
He gave the assurance yesterday while attending the Presentation College Past Students’ Reunion at the school’s compound in San Fernando. There have repeated calls for the appointment of a new board within recent weeks, in the wake of the 31 e-mails revealed in Parliament by Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley.
Rowley had initially forwarded the e-mails, which he has claimed points to misbehaviour in public office by high-ranking government officials, to former president George Maxwell Richards last year.
Richard in turn forwarded it to the commission, headed by Ken Gordon, but the term of the board expired before it could complete its investigation. Gordon has been appointed to his position for three years.
Rowley and several other segments of society have insisted that either an Integrity Commission or independent probe is best suited for the matter. However, in a release last week, the commission said while it has received legal counsel that it can probe the complaint by Rowley, it is constrained because it did not have a new board in place.
Asked yesterday how soon he would be confirming the new board, Carmona said: “Why is it you are asking such serious questions on a family day? The thing is it’s a family day and let’s keep it social.”
Pressed further, Carmona said: “What I can say very matter-of-factly is within the next two weeks there will certainly be an Integrity Commission.” He revealed that he had been holding several interviews to appoint a new commission.
“I have been having multifaceted interviews with various personnel. In fact, I have had interviews with over 40 persons and certainly your concerns will be addressed in a very matter-of-fact way in the next two weeks,” he said.
Asked if there was difficulty in finding suitable candidates, Carmona said: “There is always a difficulty. A lot of people talk and talk and talk, but they are not prepared to come forward.” He said, however, that he was not worried about filling the posts, noting, “We have great people in T&T!”
He also said he would continue to engage young people into becoming patriots of T&T.
“I am deeply disappointed by the cynics who want to know why I am engaging young people,” he said. “Those cynics have forgotten the words of Dr. Eric Williams, when he stated that the future of T&T lies in the school bags of children.
“I want to tell those cynics that the value system that you have for the rest of your life is developed between the ages of eight and 16.” (Guardian)