Ralph Maraj said, ‘I have no faith in the current Prime Minister and his Cabinet.” He was a panelist in the Sunday Night ICDN Zoom Conference (August 02, 2020) on the topic: The absence of foreign observers in the Trinidad and Tobago’s elections of August 10-Can the Elections and Boundaries Commission be trusted?
Mr. Maraj stressed that “there are too many allegations hanging over their heads,” and noted that “one Minister was ordered by a court in NY to repay a sum of $100,000 to a senior citizen and to return the deed for a condo.”
Moderated by Dr. Kumar Mahabir, the other panelists were Dr. Indira Rampersad, Lecturer at the St Augustine Campus, UWI; Professor Selwyn Cudjoe, Lecturer in Africana Studies at Wellesley College, USA. The discussant was Dr. Baytoram Ramharrack, Political Scientist and author of the book, Jung Bahadur Singh of Guyana (1886-1956).
Mr. Maraj shared with his audience an HDC scandal involving the Chief Justice and the failure of the Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to investigate and take appropriate action.
Ralph Maraj quoted famed management guru Peter Drucker who said that “a leader must lift the vision and inspire his people.” He doubted that Dr. Rowley was being truthful in his statements on foreign observers and has in his possession a letter from the Commonwealth and that the international body cannot afford an election observer mission to Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr. Indira Rampersad said that she was part of an election observer mission in 2011 and expressed disappointment that there is not going to be any observer mission in the August 10 General Elections. She added that “invitation for an observer mission must come from the government of the day and that the role of an observer mission is to provide an impartial report on the election process during the day.”
She continued: “An observer mission cannot prevent electoral fraud but can record and report on events,” and that “observer teams are headed by notable individuals of repute like President Jimmy Carter from Carter Center.”
The university lecturer in Political Science and Foreign Affair added that “immigrants were imported from the smaller islands and that in Tobago, ANR Robinson, the PNM candidate, got more votes than the number of electors in the official list of electors for the constituency in the 1961 General Elections. Dr. Rampersad closed her presentation reminding her audience that “the extension of the voting time by one hour in the 2015 General Elections was denounced by the judges of the courts.”
Professor Selwyn Cudjoe said that it was unfortunate that no observer would be present. However, he does not share the view that the EBC would not act fairly. He said that “elections are held in US and France and UK with no foreign observers.”
Professor Cudjoe said that “our fears and distrust goes back to when our leaders were in London in 1961 to seek independence, and I think it is unfortunate, but I don’t think I share the fears of my other panelists.
Dr. Baytoram Ramharack, the discussant, said that “observers were pivotal in exposing the attempts at electoral fraud perpetrated by supporters of the ruling coalition.” His comment was in reference to the recently held General Elections and the extended legal battles before the final results was declared. “Had it not been for foreign observers, the democratic process in Guyana would have been in jeopardy,” Ramharack concluded.
.Dr Ramharack continued: “The existence of a level of distrust and previous irregularities are good enough reasons why observers from the CARICOM countries would add legitimacy and confidence to the August 10 elections in Trinidad.”
Dr. Kumar Mahabir, moderator, started the show by congratulated Dr. Mohammed Irfan Ali, the 9th President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. Dr. Mahabir also extended greetings to the African community on Emancipation Day, the Muslim community on Eid ul Adha and Hindu Community on Raksha Bandhan.
In his opening remarks Dr. Kumar said that Indian views are marginalized in main stream media and formal discourses. He emphasized the positive role ICDN Online Newspaper (www.icdn.today) and its Sunday Night Zoom Conference is playing to keep alive the Indian community’s views on social and political issues. The next Zoom Conference will be on the topic: Which political party is best equipped to government Trinidad and Tobago for the next five years? The speakers are Dr. Vishnu Bisram, Ramdath Jagessar and Vassan Ramracha. For further information, visit www.icdn.today or Whatapp Kumar Mahabir at 868-756 4961.