Trinidad AG should be fired over breach of COVID laws – Persad-Bissessar

(Trinidad Express) “ Fire Faris!”

This was the call of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar as she noted that errant government ministers in other countries were swiftly dealt with after breaking Covid-19 laws.

Speaking at the United National Congress (UNC) virtual meeting on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar criticised the reaction of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi appearing maskless on a television game show.

“What was even worse than Faris’s dancing was his leader’s reaction. His Attorney General broke his own law, but all Keith could say was that he was disappointed? So what now, does he put Faris in a naughty corner somewhere?” said Persad-Bissessar.

The former prime minister said that in her Cabinet, an infraction like this would have led to immediate dismissal.

“But like Faris has some kind of zeppo on Rowley? So he would keep defending him? Keep making excuses for him,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar noted that Rowley defended Al-Rawi’s numerous recusals from Cabinet meetings when matters of his family getting State contracts came up and also with respect to his children bearing high-powered weapons at an army base.

Persad-Bissessar said in Bermuda, two leading Cabinet ministers resigned over breach of Covid-19 rules.

She quoted a Jamaica Observer report, dated July 2020, which stated that the two ministers resigned after sparking a furore by attending a party at a restaurant where coronavirus regulations were breached.

Persad-Bissessar said that Bermuda National Security Minister Wayne Caines and Tourism and Transport Minister Zane DeSilva left the Cabinet after they accepted an “invitation to resign” from Premier David Burt.

“Short video clips making the rounds on social media showed guests dancing in proximity without face masks, including Caines and DeSilva,” she read.

Persad-Bissessar said a frustrated Burt said in a statement, “The events of this weekend seen widely on social media did not represent this government’s months of struggle and hard work to keep Bermuda safe.”

“Sounds familiar? So Rowley was disappointed, that’s it, end of story, in Bermuda the Prime Minister invited these recalcitrant ministers to resign,” she added.

“Well, Rowley we are not just disappointed in you, you are a total failure, total incompetent and you should fire Faris, you invite him to resign now.

“You cannot have the key lawmaker in your Government breaking the law…and nothing happens. What is the example set for the rest of the country?” said Persad-Bissessar.

“This is the unmasking of the Rowley Government. Government has no intention to reopen the country. They are living nice in lockdown. The lockdown laws are for you – not for Faris, Rowley and his team,” said Persad-Bissessar. She said the “main lawmaker by day has become the lawbreaker at night”.

She noted that at a media briefing on August 31, 2020, the AG said even children over the age of eight would be charged with failing to wear a mask. A video clip of Al-Rawi saying this was played.

“Faris has been making laws for us citizens to wear masks in our vehicles with big fines if we fail to do so. But he has no difficulty, no issue, no problem attending a game show because, according to him, it was like ‘sitting at a restaurant’. No social distancing, no masks, but he wants to fine children for not wearing a mask,” said Persad-Bissessar.

She questioned if there was one law for citizens and another law for PNM friends, family and financiers. Persad-Bissessar questioned further how many citizens have been ticketed for “sitting at a restaurant”.

“From machine gun children, to recusal king, to crocodile tears, to now an unmasked man.”

Persad-Bissessar said this is why the procurement law was gutted.

“You have one regulator, then they removed all the government-to-government relationships, they removed medical services, they removed legal services, they removed financial services out of the jurisdiction of the Procurement Regulator to do what? To put it in the hands of the Cabinet and the Minister of Finance,” she said.