Griffith: NTA not casting judgement on silk appointments

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: National Transformation Alliance (NTA) leader Gary Griffith.

THE National Transformation Alliance (NTA) is not casting judgement on the appointments of President Christine Kangaloo’s husband and brother as senior counsel on Monday.

The NTA said their appointments were a small part of a bigger picture which underscores the need for constitutional reform.

Kerwyn Garcia and Colin Kangaloo were among 17 attorneys who received silk at the Office of the President in St Ann’s on Monday.

In a statement, NTA political leader Gary Griffith congratulated all the attorneys who were elevated to senior-counsel status.

With specific reference to two of those attorneys being the President’s relatives, Griffith said,”The NTA prefers to leave that for the court of public opinion, whilst focusing on the bigger picture, which is that once again we will advise that there is a need for constitutional reform.”

He identified attorney Michael Quamina, one of those who received silk, as a distinguished lawyer who had earned this title many times over.

The present system for appointing senior counsel has a political element, as the prime minister is directly involved in the process.

Griffith said this “may diminish in the eyes of some, the merit of those receiving it (silk).”

He added this was why real questions were being asked about the appropriateness of the President bestowing silk on her husband.

Griffith said those questions are not because Garcia is the President’s husband but because “he is seen as a PNM lawyer who over the years would have benefited from his close relationship to this administration.

“This is very unfortunate but understandable, especially given the Rowley-led administration’s efforts to politicise everything.”

The NTA, Griffith continued, advocates for a system to appoint senior counsel that totally removed from political influence and is based only on merit.

“Failure to implement this will continue to lead to accusations and the casting of aspersions, based upon political leanings.”

He said the NTA also noted “the monumental mental gymnastics” that must now be undertaken by those who “bitterly complained” about Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Anand Ramlogan being awarded silk, as Garcia has now been given senior-counsel status.

The NTA, he said, is taking the political high ground and not engaging in the “tit for tat of our present political atmosphere.”

Griffith also said political and constitutional reform “will come once this Keith Rowley-led government is democratically removed from office.”