Month: December 2018

CoP – Fixin T&T’s rep comments irresponsible & reckless

In a strong­ly-word­ed state­ment yes­ter­day, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith de­scribed as “ir­re­spon­si­ble and reck­less” state­ments by Kirk Wait­he of Fix­in’ T&T on the use of force by po­lice of the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS).

Grif­fith, who re­peat­ed much of what he has pre­vi­ous­ly said on the is­sue, ex­pressed con­cern about claims the he is di­rect­ing po­lice of­fi­cers to break the law.

He said: “This in­di­vid­ual has re­gur­gi­tat­ed the same me­dia re­lease ten times on the same top­ic, and he has now turned his con­cern to the la­bels at­tached to those crim­i­nals who kill, rape and mur­der in­no­cent law abid­ing cit­i­zens.”

The Com­mis­sion­er re­it­er­at­ed that a po­lice of­fi­cer who hes­i­tates dur­ing a con­fronta­tion with a crim­i­nal can be killed.

“The use of force pol­i­cy for the TTPS states that dead­ly force can be used if an of­fi­cer’s life is at risk. In con­trast, the ir­re­spon­si­ble and reck­less state­ments by Kirk Wait­he when he states that the Com­mis­sion­er is not ad­her­ing to the use of force pol­i­cy, demon­strates his in­abil­i­ty to un­der­stand that ‘one shot, one kill’ equates to the use of dead­ly force when re­quired,” he said.

Grif­fith added: “One won­ders why Fix­in’ T&T’s sole rep­re­sen­ta­tive and spokesper­son nev­er chose to seek a meet­ing with the Com­mis­sion­er to dis­cuss his is­sues and con­cerns, rather, he chose to con­tin­ue to is­sue mis­lead­ing and in­flam­ma­to­ry state­ments.

“Hence leav­ing one to won­der if there is any re­al in­ter­est in want­i­ng to se­ri­ous­ly ad­dress his con­cern or sim­ply to seek me­dia at­ten­tion.

“The Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice re­it­er­ates to all of­fi­cers to con­tin­ue to per­form their du­ties as they were so trained to do, and em­pha­sis­es that he will con­tin­ue to fight for the rights of of­fi­cers and law abid­ing cit­i­zens alike in keep­ing with the rule of law.

“The CoP gives the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) and all law abid­ing cit­i­zens his as­sur­ance that no one man ac­tivist group with an agen­da can al­ter the Po­lice Ser­vice’s po­si­tion.”

TTPS signs MOU with NYPD

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the New York Police Department (NYPD). The MOU was signed by Commissioner of Police of the TTPS, Gary Griffith and Commissioner of Police for the City of New York, James O’Neil on Thursday, at One Police Plaza, NYC, USA.

This agreement solidifies and strengthens cooperation between the TTPS and NYPD within the framework of preventing and combating transnational crime.

Both parties have agreed to cooperate in preventing criminal acts relating to: Illicit Drug Trafficking, Terrorism, Human Trafficking, Cyber-crime, Money Laundering and Arms smuggling.

There will be cooperation in areas of exchange of intelligence and information, training and education as well as sharing of best practices for law enforcement personnel.

The MOU also speaks to the formulation of policies and procedures to enhance counter-terrorism and transnational crime. Both parties have agreed to continuously evaluate policies, programs, and activities which are implemented.

Young- Inundated with phone calls but will not change his phone number

Minister of National Security, Stuart Young has been inundated with phone calls, even in the wee hours, since his cellphone number was exposed by Opposition activist Devant Maharaj.

“I can only tell you my personal experience,” he said at yesterday’s briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. “There has been an inundation of calls and messages, etcetera.”

Many callers claim to be ex-Petrotrin workers, but he could not verify their status, he said.

“I’m getting messages and they start off by saying, ‘I’m an ex-Petrotrin worker in ‘these’ circumstances.’ I am engaging them, saying, ‘Please provide your name and your address, giving them my official e-mail address, to then send whatever their complaint is. So if I can help, I would assist…

“There have also been a number of calls at various hours, including the wee hours of the morning, some with identifiable numbers, some saying’ no caller ID.’

“Personally, I am not changing my phone number. This is something we just have to deal with. I think it was a very irresponsible and dangerous, potentially dangerous move by that individual.”

Young said the Opposition has not distanced itself from the disclosures of the phone numbers of Cabinet ministers.

“To me it’s all a PR stunt, and a very shallow PR stunt. As a member of the Government and holding one of the portfolios, which is national security, I just press on and continue to do my work and do what I have to do for TT. I will continue to ignore them and whatever silly games they want to play.”

Asked if he got messages to make him blush, as reported by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, Young grinned and said, “I’m not getting into that area. I’ll leave that for my colleague.”

He said that as a minister, people would “call, write, e-mail, text” him to convey their concerns.

Young chided Maharaj’s disclosures of ministers’ personal phone numbers. “There needs to be some level of concern. Persons may see it as a joke, persons may see it as frivolous, persons may want to engage in that space – ‘This is how I have dealt with it, these are the type of messages I get.’ But there is a security element and a concern with it. There’s no doubt about that.

“You are all tech-savvy people and you all know about traceability of smartphones and the types of apps out there. So I personally find it very irresponsible, very immature behaviour.”

He scoffed, “But I expect nothing more.”

Govt & Police united against crime

National Security Minister, Stuart Young yesterday declared that Government and the police are united to win the war against crime.

Young made this declaration at a graduation ceremony for 199 municipal police officers at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain.

His comments came 24 hours after police killed three men in a shootout in Arima. Later on Tuesday, police seized a cache of stolen vehicles, drugs, arms and ammunition in Pleasantville. Young said he and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith have been in office for the last four months and during that time, “I don’t think there has been a single civic-minded citizen in TT who can deny that there has been a resurgence in our policing.”

Contrary to claims being made by some people, Young said, “Commissioner Griffith and I are working extremely well together.”

He declared, “This is the marker to send that signal to those out there who are trying to drive a wedge between the executive and the Police Service: not under my watch.”

He identified some of those people as current, failed and wannabe politicians.

He told his audience, “The issues of national security and the particulars of what we are doing are not for public consumption. We have enough difficulty with the bad guys out there, they don’t need to know what we are doing.”

However, he reiterated Griffith’s mantra that “intelligence-driven operations is now the order of the day.”

Saying all of the country’s national security agencies are working more closely together, Young said criminals should be warned: “Touch one, touch all.”

He and other security heads are awake at 3 am while operations are under way and interact as equals, with him providing policy and resources, he said.

“That is not a figment of my imagination. That’s real.”

Contrary to what people think of him, Young said, “I am a very quiet, meticulous and thoughtful individual. I don’t waste words.” Nor will he be “drawn into the desire for bacchanal and the desire for confusion.”

As someone who does not need to “run down the spotlight and grab the attention,” Young said, “In the coming months, you will see more and more results, and you will not hear me talking about them.”

He pointed out that his silence “is not to be taken as an acceptance of some of the stupidity that is being spoken out there.”

Young praised the new municipal police officers as “our front line in the communities” and told them their efforts will be key to what can be done on the ground in every single community to maintain law and order.

Young also urged the new officers not to fall prey to corruption and uphold the oaths they had taken.

Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein said this batch of officers represented a promise by the Prime Minister to have 200 municipal police officers in Port of Spain and 100 officers in the other 13 local government corporations. By mid-January or February, he said, another batch of officers will graduate from the municipal police training academy.

Govt will ensure due process for Sandals

Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles is seeking to assure citizens that the Sandals project will go through due process.

He made the statement in response to questions posed to him about the role of the assembly in negotiations and the construction of the proposed Sandals resort.

He said in a press release, “Whilst the Sandals Resort project has the potential to significantly transform the social and economic landscape of Tobago, it is important that the population rest assured that the Government of TT intends to comply with the laws of the land and in this regard, it will ensure that due process takes place.

“I also want to assure the people of Tobago that the Tobago House of Assembly continues to respect and abide by the Environment Management Authority and its processes. As an administration, we remain committed to ensure that Tobago derives optimum benefits from this project.”

After last Thursday’s public meeting at the Scarborough Library featuring comments by Afra Raymond, former president of the Joint Consultative Council, and others, Charles said he was compelled to make a statement.

“The primary focus of the lecture seemed aimed at discussing some of the implications of the non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Government of TT and Sandals Resorts International, 2000 Inc dated October 10, 2017.

“While I appreciate the speakers’ interest in the project as citizens of TT and their desire to see that this country gets a fair and reasonable return from the Sandals project, I wish to remind the public that the MoU that was being discussed on Thursday is not a legally-binding document and leaves room for further discussions and negotiations before a final legally-binding agreement is reached… Every single item listed in the MoU will be open for discussion when the Government’s negotiating team meets with the Sandals team,” he said.

BP invests $12bn in two new energy projects

An agree­ment be­tween BP T&T (bpTT) and the Gov­ern­ment will see the en­er­gy com­pa­ny in­vest­ing some US$1.8 bil­lion (TT$12 bn) in two new en­er­gy projects.

The agree­ment, signed last Fri­day, en­tailed the ex­ten­sion of the South East Ga­le­o­ta Ex­plo­ration & Pro­duc­tion li­cence and will al­so see bpTT be­gin the off­shore in­vest­ments of the Cas­sia Com­pres­sion Project as well as the Mat­a­pal Gas Project. The Mat­a­pal Gas Project is ex­pect­ed to de­vel­op the gas re­sources dis­cov­ered by bpTT in 2017.

The sign­ing of the agree­ment was wit­nessed by Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley, Min­is­ter of En­er­gy and En­er­gy In­dus­tries Franklin Khan and Re­gion­al Pres­i­dent of bpTT Claire Fitz­patrick, at the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter in St Clair.

The sign­ing of the agree­ment con­clud­ed the first phase of this coun­try’s ne­go­ti­a­tions with bpTT for fu­ture gas pro­duc­tion and projects in T&T.

Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Min­is­ter in the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter Stu­art Young, Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer, Glob­al Up­stream Re­gions at BP William Lin, Head of Plan­ning and Com­mer­cial Fi­nance at bpTT Richard Eaton and bpTT’s Man­ag­ing Coun­sel, Wendy Fae Thomp­son were al­so present at the sign­ing.

Back in March, Mc­Der­mott In­ter­na­tion­al, Inc an­nounced that it was award­ed a de­tailed en­gi­neer­ing and long lead pro­cure­ment ser­vices con­tract from bpTT for the Cas­sia C Com­pres­sion Plat­form.

Mc­Der­mott’s was al­so award­ed the con­tract for the en­gi­neer­ing, pro­cure­ment, con­struc­tion, in­stal­la­tion and com­mis­sion­ing (EP­CIC) con­tract for the An­gelin project by bpTT last year.

The Cas­sia C Com­pres­sion project, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion on Mc­Der­mott’s web­site, in­cludes a new un­manned com­pres­sion plat­form for the ex­ist­ing Cas­sia com­plex. The fa­cil­i­ty is ex­pect­ed to pro­vide gas com­pres­sion to the Cas­sia com­plex through a new bridge con­nect­ed to Cas­sia B.

Cas­sia C is bpTT’s third Cas­sia plat­form.

Griffith – 500 homicides an unacceptable milestone

T&T’s mur­der toll reached the 500 mark yes­ter­day. How­ev­er, de­spite the alarm­ing­ly high fig­ure—the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice said that the mur­der rate has de­creased be­tween the pe­ri­od Au­gust to De­cem­ber.

Do­mes­tic and gang-re­lat­ed in­ci­dents ac­count­ed for the most amount of mur­ders in the coun­try this year

Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice (CoP) Gary Grif­fith said yes­ter­day that reach­ing 500 homi­cides was a most un­ac­cept­able mile­stone for any coun­try. The high­est mur­der toll in T&T—550—was record­ed in 2008, while the sec­ond high­est fig­ure—509—was record­ed in 2009. Last year, 2017, the mur­der toll stood at 495.

“Reach­ing 500 homi­cides is the most un­ac­cept­able mile­stone that any coun­try can ac­quire. If any­one thinks that it can be changed to 250 in a few months, they are wrong.”

Over the last four months, how­ev­er, he said there has been a grad­ual de­crease in homi­cides in com­par­i­son to the same pe­ri­od last year, “with an over ten per cent re­duc­tion”.

“But I do not in any way see this as suc­cess. It is mea­sured progress and the di­rec­tion to dras­ti­cal­ly re­duce vi­o­lent crime.

“The end re­sult af­ter putting im­mense re­sources and poli­cies both in law en­force­ment and so­cial av­enues to turn youths away from vi­o­lent crime can be 150. But the last time we saw that was over 18 years ago. Things have changed. To get back there, all as­pects of gang ac­tiv­i­ty must be to­tal­ly elim­i­nat­ed. That would take sev­er­al years. 250 per an­num can be an at­tain­able goal in the near fu­ture but it takes a mas­sive turn­around,” Grif­fith said.

Poor Detection Rate

Whilst the over­all de­tec­tion rate in the coun­try is very poor, po­lice said the Port-of-Spain Di­vi­sion (POSD) saw a 125 per cent in­crease in its de­tec­tion rate this year. How­ev­er, mur­ders in that di­vi­sion have gone up from 36 to 42 over the cor­re­spond­ing pe­ri­ods for the years 2017 and 2018. In the South­ern Di­vi­sion, from Jan­u­ary 1 to De­cem­ber 8, 2018, there was a sev­en per cent de­crease in homi­cides from 70 in 2017 to 65 in 2018.

• In May 2017 there were 49 mur­ders in T&T while in May 2018 there were 59 mur­ders–a 20 per cent in­crease.

• In June 2017 the mur­ders record­ed were 33 and in June 2018, 44—again, an in­crease of 33 per cent.

• In Ju­ly 2017 there were 30 mur­ders and in Ju­ly 2018, 44—a 47 per cent in­crease.

• In Au­gust 2017 there were 43 mur­ders as com­pared to 41 this year Au­gust, which rep­re­sent­ed a five per cent de­crease.

• In Sep­tem­ber 2017 there were 48 mur­ders, while in the cor­re­spond­ing pe­ri­od in 2018 there were 37 mur­ders—a 30 per cent de­crease.

•In Oc­to­ber 2017 there were 40 mur­ders, while in Oc­to­ber 2018 there were 33 mur­ders—a 21 per cent de­crease.

• From Au­gust to No­vem­ber 2017 the mur­der toll was 166. How­ev­er, un­der Grif­fith’s watch, the fig­ure de­creased to 157 in 2018.

The ini­tia­tives

In Oc­to­ber dur­ing an in­ter­view, Grif­fith told the me­dia the coun­try was on the path to hav­ing over 600 mur­ders record­ed for the year. He, how­ev­er, said that with the ini­tia­tives that he had im­ple­ment­ed, there was a re­duc­tion in killings. He said then that there were over 70 oth­er ini­tia­tives he in­tend­ed to spear­head with­in a 12-month pe­ri­od.

He said he hoped for the coun­try’s mur­der toll to re­turn to an “ac­cept­able lev­el” of 150 per year.

Grif­fith did note that since Au­gust, the homi­cide rates had been de­creas­ing on a month-to-month ba­sis.

• One of the ini­tia­tives Grif­fith im­ple­ment­ed was Op­er­a­tion Strike Back where scores of peo­ple have been ar­rest­ed so far dur­ing an­ti-crime ex­er­cis­es on var­i­ous of­fences in­clud­ing mur­ders, rob­bery with vi­o­lence, arms and am­mu­ni­tion, and nar­cotics.

• An­oth­er ini­tia­tive was the Emer­gency Re­sponse Unit where a new fleet of po­lice ve­hi­cles was despatched at strate­gic lo­ca­tions through­out the coun­try, in­clud­ing in ar­eas iden­ti­fied as “hot spots”.

A se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer, at the North East­ern Di­vi­sion, who wished not to be iden­ti­fied ad­mit­ted that there are a few chal­lenges that exist still but as­sured that po­lice of­fi­cers in the di­vi­sion were “go­ing that ex­tra mile in crack­ing down on all crim­i­nals and crim­i­nal­ly-in­clined ac­tiv­i­ties”.

“I re­mem­ber when there used to be a mur­der or two a day in Laven­tille and Mor­vant, now days pass by and no mur­ders…that by it­self shows you the suc­cess of po­lice of­fi­cers’ du­ties,” the se­nior of­fi­cer said.

Petrotrin lands identified for ex-workers

Gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied some of Petrotrin’s lands in the South for de­vel­op­ment and trans­fer of own­er­ship to for­mer Petrotrin work­ers, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley an­nounced yes­ter­day.

The land of­fer is the lat­est con­ces­sion Gov­ern­ment is giv­ing for­mer work­ers fol­low­ing the No­vem­ber 30 ces­sa­tion of Petrotrin op­er­a­tions, clo­sure of its re­fin­ery and start-up of re­struc­tured en­ti­ties on De­cem­ber 1.

Re­ply­ing in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day to Op­po­si­tion queries on what would be done to help work­ers, Row­ley not­ed the $2.7 bil­lion pay­out to work­ers, tax-free con­ces­sions on ben­e­fits up to $500,000 and oth­er de­vel­op­ments.

He said Petrotrin is one of the largest en­ti­ties with state land and Gov­ern­ment was mak­ing por­tions of those lands (all over the south-west and south­ern penin­su­la) “….iden­ti­fied for de­vel­op­ment for trans­fer in own­er­ship to Petrotrin work­ers who can ben­e­fit from such.”

Row­ley said he’ll make a state­ment in Par­lia­ment on that soon. He said Gov­ern­ment’s so­cial sup­port sys­tems are fo­cus­ing ex­ces­sive­ly on south­ern ar­eas to deal with hard­ships oc­cur­ring, as Gov­ern­ment knew those ar­eas would be hit by the Petrotrin changes.

But even as Gov­ern­ment was putting mon­ey in to help those in dis­tress, he added, some in the com­mu­ni­ty were try­ing to “get more than their fair share.”

Re­port­ing on the re­cent Cari­com sum­mit on the Sin­gle Mar­ket and the Econ­o­my (CSME), Row­ley de­tailed plans to bring new im­pe­tus to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the CSME which mem­ber states will move to­wards ful­ly by 2021 – and for which T&T will have to make leg­isla­tive changes to al­low Cari­com na­tion­als cer­tain rights and ben­e­fits here.

He said T&T would be re­quired to un­der­take a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of the rel­e­vant leg­isla­tive (Im­mi­gra­tion Caribbean Com­mu­ni­ty Skilled Na­tion­al Act) and ad­min­is­tra­tive frame­works gov­ern­ing the en­try and stay of Cari­com na­tion­als, as well as ben­e­fits to be ac­cord­ed to them.

The amend­ments will have to cater to the ex­pand­ed cat­e­gories of skilled Cari­com na­tion­als – re­cent­ly ex­pand­ed to in­clude se­cu­ri­ty guards, beau­ti­cians, bar­bers and agri­cul­tur­al work­ers – the Recog­ni­tion of Skills Cer­tifi­cates is­sued by oth­er Cari­com Mem­ber States; and au­tho­ri­sa­tion of the ben­e­fits to be ex­tend­ed to spous­es and de­pen­dents of Skills Cer­tifi­cate hold­ers as out­lined in Cari­com’s pro­to­cols on Con­tin­gent Rights.

He said lead­ers al­so signed an agree­ment on a Cari­com Ar­rest War­rant Treaty. This es­tab­lish­es with­in Cari­com a sys­tem of ar­rest and sur­ren­der of re­quest­ed per­sons for the pur­pos­es of con­duct­ing a crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion for an ap­plic­a­ble of­fence; or ex­e­cut­ing a cus­to­di­al sen­tence where the re­quest­ed per­sons have fled from jus­tice af­ter be­ing sen­tenced for an ap­plic­a­ble of­fence.

It was al­so agreed that T&T host Car­ifes­ta XIV dur­ing Au­gust 16-25, 2019.

Lead­ers al­so agreed on a Mul­ti-lat­er­al Air Ser­vices Agree­ment al­low­ing any Cari­com state that does not have a na­tion­al air­line the right to des­ig­nate an­oth­er Cari­com state air­line to op­er­ate on its be­half.

No lit joints, no lap dances and no Sex Island Party on T&T shores this weekend

National Security Minister Stuart Young is responding to international media reports that a sex party is going to be hosted later this month on an island off Trinidad.

In a statement, Young said he has seen the reports of a suggestion that there is to be some event taking place at an island off of the North of Trinidad, carded as a ‘Sex Island Party’.

“I have asked law enforcement and Immigration to monitor this and to make it known that such an event and the suggested illegal actions to take place will NOT be tolerated by Trinidad and Tobago.

The suggested illegality of drug use and prostitution is of concern to me and I have requested that positive action be taken to ascertain whether there is any veracity to the suggested event and to be extra vigilant to prevent any such event taking place.”

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, speaking on a local radio programme today, said he wanted to disappoint “those who think it may happen.”

“It is definitely not going to happen, there is no such plan whatsoever that can actually ensure that it takes place,” Griffith said, telling his audience “there is no private island of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Griffith said he believes the event being promised here started some years ago in Colombia “but it is difficult if not impossible for this to take place.”

“Even before the police get involved you need the requisite approval for entry into Trinidad and Tobago waters from the Ministry of National Security and you must go through Immigration authorities. And then having said that …I can give the assurance that before the first joint is lighted, before the first lap dance is made that will never happen.  There’s cer­tain­ly no way that some­thing so or­gan­ised and pro­mot­ed like this can take place in T&T wa­ters.”

Un­der­cov­er po­lice of­fi­cers who have been dis­patched to “every cor­ner” of T&T to mon­i­tor il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties such as pros­ti­tu­tion and hu­man traf­fick­ing, will now fo­cus their at­ten­tion on the Sex Is­land event be­ing pro­mot­ed by a for­eign com­pa­ny for Down the Is­lands this week­end.

This was dis­closed by the Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice (CoP) Gary Grif­fith on CNC3’s The Morn­ing Brew today, as he dis­cussed a New York Post ar­ti­cle that iden­ti­fied T&T as its new lo­ca­tion for the in­fa­mous “Sex Is­land” all-in­clu­sive par­ty.

Ac­cord­ing to NY Post jour­nal­ist Michael Blaustein, the event is be­ing ad­ver­tised for US$4,500 this Fri­day to Sun­day (De­cem­ber 17). The pro­mot­ers are promis­ing 50 guests two pros­ti­tutes each, drugs and un­lim­it­ed food and drinks, with most of the women com­ing from Colom­bia, Brazil, Puer­to Ri­co, Amer­i­can, Cana­da and oth­er South Amer­i­can coun­tries.

Not­ing that such ac­tiv­i­ty was il­le­gal, Grif­fith said that the of­fi­cers, who had al­ready al­so been as­signed to mon­i­tor es­tab­lish­ments where mi­nors are sold al­co­hol and cig­a­rettes, will be on high alert to en­sure the event does not go on as planned if the re­port is true.

Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young al­so said he in­tends to block the or­gan­is­ers of a four-day, three-night “sex ex­trav­a­gan­za.”

The event al­so hit the British new me­dia Tues­day, with the On­line Mail re­port­ing that the or­gan­is­ers had an­nounced that a 16-year-old boy from New York had won a free tick­et to the event and was trav­el­ling to T&T to at­tend af­ter get­ting his fa­ther’s bless­ing.

Citizens question what Devant hopes to achieve

Even as he was condemned for sharing the Prime Minister’s mobile phone number, a defiant former government minister, Devant Maharaj yesterday shared National Security Minister Stuart Young’s cellphone number on social media.

“CALL STUART! Prime Minister Rowley has opted to be disconnected from the sufferings of the average citizen caused directly by the mismanagement of the economy by the termination of his cellular telephone phone. Given that Minister Stuart Young accused me of sedition for calling for a lawful protest and sharing the cell number of the Prime Minister, I now call upon citizens to call Minister Young and speak out against the undemocratic pattern of behaviour of the Rowley Administration on his phone at 6******,” Maharaj posted yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is reacting with outrage over former UNC government minister Devant Maharaj’s decision to share Rowley’s personal telephone number on social media.

In a statement issued on Saturday evening appealing to “all the decent right thinking people of Trinidad and Tobago” Rowley apologised for having to discontinue the number.

He explained: “Today, due to circumstances beyond my control I am forced to communicate an apology to you as a result of the reckless and dangerous behaviour of former UNC Minister Devant Maharaj.

For very many years, I have maintained the same telephone number. Upon assuming office I continued to keep that same number and used it effectively for private and public business. Very many of you members of the public have used that number, appropriately, in your moments of need or simply to wish me well on a daily basis.

As of Friday December 7th 2018, Mr Devant Maharaj of the UNC, obtained my telephone number and has maliciously published it in the widest possible way on social media and further he has encouraged and incited persons to harass and threaten me.

Our country being what it is and containing enough unfortunates to be guided by the likes of Mr Devant Maharaj, I have been the subject not only of abuse but of threatening behaviour which warranted the involvement of the Commissioner of Police.

As a result of this act of gross misconduct and in my desire to serve you in a sane and sober manner I regret that I will be discontinuing the use of the number that you might have known and used at some time in the past.

I am saddened by this because I always felt connected to you just as an ordinary citizen whose phone number was widely known and available to the responsible public but this being the times in which we live and the technology available to the lowlifes like Mr Maharaj I have no choice but to access and use another number which you will become familiar with in the normal decent way.

I trust that our country never becomes so barren that there is an absence of leadership in all quarters, especially the political arena, where rogue elements who try to drag us down to their base levels can be roundly condemned. I so do”.

Young also said Maharaj’s circulation of calls for protest action warranted a criminal investigation and “may qualify as the serious crime of sedition.” Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said there is no criminal investigation into Maharaj circulating the PM’s’s personal contact information on social media. But Griffith warned citizens against making this kind of information public because it could jeopardise people’s security. Griffith said subsequent to the PM’s cell phone number being publicised on social media, Rowley received threatening phone calls from one person. He said this matter is now the subject of a police investigation.

People’s National Movement (PNM) Women’s League chairperson Camille Robinson-Regis said the Opposition Leader must condemn Maharaj’s “guerilla gambit.” But she opined that this may not happen if the “opposition’s thin veneer of decorum was shattered on her instructions.” Robinson-Regis said if this is the case, the League demands that Kamla Persad-Bissessar “take responsibility for the reckless actions of her former cabinet member.” She also said the League expects “nothing short of an immediate apology and public interdiction of Mr Maharaj.”

In a statement, the PNM supported Robinson-Regis’ position. PNM public relations officer Laurel Lezama Lee Sing said Maharaj continues to be “unpatriotic and ill-disciplined” in and out of public office. She said Maharaj’s efforts to harass and effectively torment the PM “only serves to prove his “imbecilic and obnoxious levels of thinking, and his malicious intent to attempt to destabilise our country.”