This statement which also bore the country’s Coat of Arms, was issued 48 hours after Mohammed made his statement before a public sitting of the Municipal and Service Commissions joint select committee (JSC) at the Red House on March 25.
At that sitting, Mohammed said the ability of the Police Service to win the support of the population in the war against crime is hampered by the perception of ethnic imbalance within the service.
Referring to statistics provided from the Director of Personnel Administration, Mohammed at this JSC meeting, revealed that there were no persons of East Indian origin from the ranks of commissioner to senior superintendent. However he noted there were 21 superintendents of African origin and ten of East Indian origin.
In a statement yesterday, Government declared, “Mr Mohammed must be held accountable for his inflammatory and unwise remarks which in no way represent the views of the Government. Statements such as the one by Mr Mohammed are divisive and serve no useful purpose other than to undermine the trust that is reposed in him as chairman of the PSC.
“When we see each other for who we are rather than what we happen to look like, when the grounds of suspicion fall away and no one looks for shades of difference to determine their own value, when realities are not created by pigments of someone’s imagination, then we would have arrived as a nation,” the Government release stated.
The Government declared that it was within this context it, “categorically condemns the statements made by Mr Nizam Mohammed, chairman of the PSC regarding the allegations of discrimination and the need for ethnic balancing within the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.”
The Government statement went on to say that the five leaders of the ruling People’s Partnership coalition — Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (United National Congress — UNC); Finance Minister Winston Dookeran (Congress of the People — COP); Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod (Movement for Social Justice — MSJ); Makandal Daaga (National Joint Action Committee — NJAC) and Ashworth Jack of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) — which took the reins of power in the May 24 General Election, “is the broadest-based representation ever held in this nation and the insularity propagated by Mr Mohammed’s reckless and senseless comments run against the very grain of the philosophy that now governs the country.”
Saying its mission is to embrace everyone and create a meritocracy based on people’s ability to do their jobs, the Government statement stressed that “race must not and will never be a consideration.” The Government concluded its statement by saying that whatever are the ethnic origins of this country’s citizens, the words of TT’s National Anthem “here every creed and race finds an equal place” expresses a philosophy that determines the way that it functions today.
Senior government officials yesterday said that Persad-Bissessar has not spoken with President George Maxwell Richards about Mohammed’s controversial statements or discussed the matter with the Cabinet. Up to late yesterday evening, the Prime Minister was in meetings with some Cabinet ministers about projects which were under their purview.
Under the Constitution, members of the PSC are appointed by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader. (SEE PAGE 7).
Speaking to Newsday yesterday, prior to Government’s evening time statement, Mohammed said, “I have absolutely no comment to make until I get a copy of the Hansard report in my hand, because a lot of people are perhaps commenting on this issue without looking at what was said which can only be found in the Hansard report. Many may have been guided by distorted media reports, so until then, I intend to keep silent.”
Contacted yesterday, PSC commissioners Martin George and Kenneth Parker declined to comment on the Government’s statement. George said he was in court in San Fernando all day and was unaware of the statement. Parker said he was driving and could not comment. Calls to the cellphones of commissioners Addison Khan and Jacqueline Cheeseman went unanswered.