Political scientist on silk for Kangaloo’s husband, brother: ‘It reflects poorly on the President’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

SILK APPOINTMENTS: Seated from left, Acting Chief Justice Allan Mendonca, President Christine Kangaloo and Attorney General Reginald Armour with the 17 attorneys who received silk (Senior Counsel) status on Monday at President’s House. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE –

UWI POLITICAL scientist Dr Indira Rampersad says the award of silk (senior counsel status) to the brother and husband of President Christine Kangaloo reflects poorly on her as head of state.

She is also of the view that Cabinet should not be involved in recommending lawyers for silk.

Reacting to news that the President’s husband Kerwin Garcia and her brother Colin Kangaloo were among 17 attorneys receiving letters of appointment as senior counsel from President Kangaloo on Monday, Rampersad said the Cabinet of the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration similarly recommended silk to Persad-Bissessar and then attorney general Anand Ramlogan.

However, in the instance of Garcia and Kangaloo, Rampersad believes their appointments reflected badly on the President because they are her relatives.”There seems to be a conflict of interest here.”

Recalling concerns raised about Kangaloo’s ability to be impartial before her appointment as head of state on March 20, Rampersad said, “She would have been acting on the instructions of a PNM Cabinet of which she may have been a part in the past.”

Rampersad said she could not determine whether Kangaloo’s relatives met the criteria to be appointed senior counsel. But she added, “Justice must not just be done. It must be seen to be done.”

Rampersad believes fairness must be an important element in this conversation and of the award of silk to Garcia and Kangaloo, she said: “This is going to raise eyebrows.”

She recalled the public uproar when Persad-Bissessar and Ramlogan were awarded silk and wondered, “Are we going to see that same uproar today?”

She said the conferral of silk on Garcia and Kangaloo could add to concerns about additional money being approved last week for the Office of the President by the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives.

On May 5, that committee approved a supplementation of $10,797,000 to the funding allocated in the 2022/2023 budget for the President’s Office.

These funds include $100,000 for the President’s medical expenses and those of her immediate predecessor Paula-Mae Weekes, $350,000 for electricity and $200,000 for phone expenses, since Kangaloo and Garcia will live at President’s House in St Ann’s. Weekes did not live in President’s House during her tenure.

Rampersad said, “That is another bone of contention amongst the public, especially when many people are going hungry and homeless.”

She said because the President is who she is, “These controversies loom larger than life.”