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It’s not about race

ACTING Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Deodat Dulalchan was not rejected for Commissioner of Police (CoP) because of race. The process the Police Service Commission (PSC) used to select Dulalchan and other people for the posts of CoP and DCP was flawed. The PSC must do the selection process over.

These declarations from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley resulted in an Opposition walkout from the House of Representatives on Wednesday night. The Opposition walked out before voting on a motion to note a Special Select Committee (SSC) report which examined the PSC’s selection process. After the Opposition left, Government dealt with other matters before Rowley concluded debate on a motion he started in February to approve Dulalchan’s nomination for CoP.

Government MPs voted against the motion around midnight. Before that vote, Rowley said, “We cannot support the request and we cannot support the notification.”

He outlined the Government’s reason hours earlier in the debate. As a member of the former Patrick Manning administration, Rowley said he was not in Parliament in 2008 when the People’s National Movement then rejected the PSC’s recommendation of Stephen Williams as CoP.

Looking at Opposition MPs, Rowley said, “None of my colleagues on the other side could or should be making any case that this matter has anything to with the racial complexion of the individual.

“Unlike in America, where the issue of race is always out front, in TT we bury it under the carpet and raise it conveniently, politically.”

He said the SSC was appointed because of public concerns that the PSC had been manipulated. “It has nothing to do with the individual. Today’s assignment is about the process. If the process is flawed, how can you ask us to accept the outcome when it is so patently capricious?” Rowley said there were glaring differences in how the PSC conducted the selection process on its own and together with recruiting firm KPMG.

Suggesting this arouses suspicions of manipulation, Rowley quipped, “I have no horse in this race but if I had a bet in this race, I was going to call in the police.” Of 11 candidates being considered by the PSC and KPMG, Rowley said four candidates disappeared from the list when considered by the PSC alone. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi asked, “Just so?”

He said the PSC’s behaviour was unacceptable.

“What we are doing here is sending it straight back to the commission and telling them what they have put before the House cannot stand scrutiny because you have not in fact followed the order.”

On Chaguanas West MP Ganga Singh’s demand that Dulalchan be appointed because he was the PSC’s top pick, Rowley said the same obtained for Canadian Neal Parker in June 2010. However he recalled the UNC rejected Parker, “after a process which was not questioned in the way this one was.” He also said Kamla Persad-Bissessar, now Opposition Leader, agreed with the use of Parliament as “the veto power to approve or disapprove nominations coming from the PSC.”

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