An incongruous political situation led Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to reveal to the Parliament that Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar tipped off her political adversary, Marlene Mc Donald one month before her arrest.
“I didn’t know Marlene Mc Donald was going to get arrested but one month before she was arrested the Leader of the Opposition could have called her to her office and tell her she was going to be arrested,” Rowley said.
As the disclosure echoed through the Chamber of the Parliament on Monday night, gasps and wows emanated from the Government bench.
On August 7, Officers of the Fraud Squad swooped down on McDonald’s home at Valley View, Maracas, St Joseph, where they executed a search warrant and took away several items.
This was in connection with six-year-old investigation into the alleged siphoning of over $1 million from a Government Ministry to three organisations which police claimed linked to family and friends of the then public administration minister and her husband.
Four days later, Mc Donald was charged with seven criminal charges, including misbehaviour in public office, conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.
As the Prime Minister continued his contribution to the Firearms (Amendment) Bill 2019, he told the Parliament that as the Chairman of the National Security Council he did not know that the police were on to Marlene Mc Donald but the Member of Parliament for Siparia, Kamla Persad Bissessar, did.
He added that it took him four days to find out what was taking place regarding his minister.
At that point Opposition Chief Whip David Lee interrupted and raised Standing Order 48 (1), which speaks to relevance to the debate at hand.
But the PM shot back quickly, “sit down!”
After getting affirmation from Deputy Speaker of the House Esmond Forde, Rowley continued and expressed how confident the Opposition Leader was in her information.
The Prime Minister’s appetite for revelations seemed unfulfilled as he went on to say that there was even a point when the People’s Partnership was in power (2010 -2015) that Mc Donald, an attorney, was offered the prospect of being made a Senior Counsel.
Again Lee raised Standing Order 48(1), only this time the Deputy Speaker urged the Prime Minister to tie what he was saying into the bill.
“Mr Deputy Speaker I have rope, I have twine, I have thread I could tie it.” he said
He explained that he was pointing out the behaviour of the UNC as they made accusations against his Government and he felt that they are in fact the ones people should be careful with.
“Is because we have credibility that I as leader could have told my colleague you do no such thing and you take no silk from them unless is a silk twine to hang themselves.” He added.
Mc Donald, the Port-of-Spain South MP, her long-time companion Michael Carew, Wayne Anthony, Victor McEachrane and Edgar Zepherine have appeared before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle-Caddle in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court to answer a total of 49 charges.
Since being charged, McDonald has been removed as Public Administration Minister and deputy political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM).
Persad Bissessar was not in the Chamber at the time the Prime Minister was speaking and several efforts to contact her for comment up to late yesterday roved futile.
However, in response Public Relations Officer of the UNC, Anita Haynes said, “Once again Keith Rowley is grasping at straws. Without a single achievement to show the people of T&T, he is resorting once again to bringing patently false claims to the Parliament in an effort to deflect attention from his incompetence and inability to govern. Remember email-gate?” she said.
Reporter: Chester Sambrano