From: Kirk Meighoo, PR Officer
“ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”
If Mr. Tiah Had Been a Working-Class UNC or PNM Member or Supporter Who Was Outside the Social Circles and Class Structure of AMCHAM, Would There Still Be That Support For Him? Is Their Support of Mr. Tiah a Case of Classism or Outright Nepotism?
The UNC has no issue with any chamber or group supporting any individual or political party. We support democracy and free speech. Therefore, we have no issue with AMCHAM’s support of Mr.Tiah. But in the same vein the UNC is also entitled to our non-support of Mr.Tiah.
In extremely poor taste AMCHAM used the cover of extending condolences, to instead mount a defense of Eugene Tiah.
While we have no issue with Mr.Tiah’s qualifications and expertise regarding HSE, we must place the following facts before the national community as to why we do not deem him reputable, credible and neutral regarding this particular investigation. This is not the first time Mr. Tiah has found favor with the PNM.
Mr. Tiah enjoyed the confidence of a then-PNM administration wherein he was appointed as a director on ETeck. During his tenure, the Board of ETeck embarked on a very expensive investment in the amount of $35 Million with Bamboo Investment. That $35 Million left our shores without a single cent returned on the investment.
The then-PP Government embarked on legal action to recover the investment by suing the then-directors of ETeck, including Mr. Tiah who was named as the Fifth Defendant in the matter. The then-Board of ETeck, including Mr. Tiah, was represented, inter alia, by Mr. Stuart Young and Michael Quamina.
The then-Board of ETeck including Mr.Tiah attempted to avoid answering the direct questions as to why a decision was taken to invest $35 Million in Bamboo Investments without the necessary due diligence conducted on the company.
Mr.Tiah and the other Eteck board members lost their case all the way up to the Privy Council, with costs being awarded to the State in each stage of the matter. We wonder if Mr.Tiah has to date paid the State the legal costs that the Courts ordered to be borne by him?
It is apt to reflect on the words of Justice of Appeal Bereaux wherein he said delivering the appeal decision:
“It is a matter of great public notoriety that directorships in state enterprises in Trinidad and Tobago are much more a question of political patronage and cronyism, than it is about competence and in which the lines between self-interest and the public interest can become blurred”. However, he made no pronouncements on the characters of the directors of Eteck.
After the State had been successful in every step of the legal proceedings, we learnt in September 2019 that the matter against Mr. Tiah and the other directors of ETeck was withdrawn by the Rowley PNM Government, in similar vein to what we saw in the Malcolm Jones matter.
It is hypocrisy that AMCHAM finds no issue with this imbroglio, but previously used very similar situations to call for persons to step down or removed.
AMCHAM attempts to justify their support by stating:
“We understand that this is an emotionally charged matter and many, often-competing interests are involved. However, we appeal to all who can have an impact on national development – especially those who have specific and official responsibility in this regard – to consider the impact of their actions. If the willingness of capable professionals to serve continues to be compromised, we will all be the poorer for it”
If Mr.Tiah had been a working-class UNC or PNM member or supporter who was outside the social circles of AMCHAM, would there still be that support for him? Is their support of Mr.Tiah a case of classism or outright nepotism?
With regards to AMCHAM’s support of Mr.Tiah, despite his history, the famous quote “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” is relevant more than ever. While the matter is no longer subject to the court of law, it now rests in the court of public opinion.
The UNC has no more to say on this issue and we hope that Mr. Tiah and his supporters can now move on to more productive undertakings. We look forward to a cordial working relationship in the future with AMCHAM.
Dr. Kirk Meighoo
Public Relations Officer