Duke violated Code of Conduct governing politicians

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 17:00

Coun­cil for Re­spon­si­ble Po­lit­i­cal Be­hav­iour chair­man Dr Bish­nu Ra­goonath says Pub­lic Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion (PSA) pres­i­dent Wat­son Duke crossed the line and has vi­o­lat­ed the Code of Con­duct gov­ern­ing politi­cians.


Even af­ter Duke’s pub­lic apol­o­gy on Tues­day, he still faces crit­i­cism and has since been ac­cused by At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi of be­ing an agent for the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC).

Speak­ing on CNC’s Morn­ing Brew, Ra­goonath called on politi­cians to con­duct them­selves with re­spect and be re­spon­si­ble, es­pe­cial­ly as the coun­try heads in­to two elec­tions.

While the po­lit­i­cal cul­ture al­lows a cer­tain amount of pi­cong and bac­cha­nal, he said there are lines that must not be crossed.

“Some of those lines are be­ing crossed and I think that’s where the Coun­cil for Re­spon­si­ble Po­lit­i­cal Be­hav­iour would have to again call on the po­lit­i­cal par­ties to be mind­ful of the code of con­duct that some of them would have signed and there­upon ask them that they should en­sure that they are ad­her­ing to the code in ac­cor­dance to what they would have signed,” he said.



He ex­plained that the Code specif­i­cal­ly states that politi­cians and po­lit­i­cal par­ties should not use lan­guage that would in­vite, en­cour­age or fos­ter ha­tred or re­sent­ment or any form of vi­o­lence.

“And clear­ly I think Mr Duke lan­guage, it has crossed the line,” said Ra­goonath, who added that it has long been ac­cept­ed that the N and C words should not be used.

He added: “And it is in that con­text that we say this has crossed the line and Wat­son Duke has been ir­re­spon­si­ble. The pop­u­la­tion at large is be­ing called up­on and will be called up­on to make a de­ci­sion on whether or not such lan­guage is ac­cept­able. The pop­u­la­tion would have to de­cide whether Duke will face any po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences as no law is in place re­gard­ing that is­sue. “

While Duke is not a con­test­ing the De­cem­ber 2 Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions, Ra­goonath said Duke might con­test the gen­er­al elec­tion.

He said, “The po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences lie with the peo­ple and their right to vote for who they think is re­spon­si­ble and who is act­ing in man­ner that they are proud to say this is my rep­re­sen­ta­tive. That is the po­lit­i­cal con­se­quence that has to be paid.”

How­ev­er, he said Trinida­di­ans are known for the “nine-day won­der” that af­ter nine days they com­plete­ly for­get about an is­sue and move on.

While Duke did not sign the code, Ra­goonath said it set stan­dards not on­ly for the politi­cians and par­ties who signed to it, but for all politi­cians and every­body with­in so­ci­ety.

Ra­goonath ad­vised lead­ers to ad­vise young can­di­dates and the rank and file of their par­ty about the code.

“Po­lit­i­cal lead­ers are not on­ly nec­es­sar­i­ly there to win an elec­tion but there to cre­ate lead­er­ship po­si­tions and stature and to say that they are states­men and stateswomen and can car­ry this coun­try for­ward.”

Ad­dress­ing sup­port­ers dur­ing a lo­cal gov­ern­ment cam­paign meet­ing in San Fer­nan­do on Tues­day night, At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al- Rawi ac­cused Duke of work­ing with the UNC.

Al-Rawi said, “That’s like hav­ing a trade union leader stand up and tell us in the PNM that we (N-word) we must stay home be­cause the PNM ent do noth­ing for you. That sir is a man to be called an as­tro­turfer be­cause he is as­tro­turf­ing for the UNC and I make no apol­o­gy in re­mind­ing you that Wat­son Duke is an as­tro­turfer for the UNC.”

The mean­ing of as­tro­turf­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Mer­ri­am-Web­ster dic­tio­nary is: “An or­gan­ised ac­tiv­i­ty that is in­tend­ed to cre­ate a false im­pres­sion of a wide­spread, spon­ta­neous­ly aris­ing, grass­roots move­ment in sup­port of or in op­po­si­tion to some­thing (such as a po­lit­i­cal pol­i­cy) but that is in re­al­i­ty ini­ti­at­ed and con­trolled by a con­cealed group or or­ga­ni­za­tion (such as a cor­po­ra­tion).”


Duke has, how­ev­er, de­nied Al-Rawi’s claim say­ing that he is one hun­dred per kept pure­bred Pro­gres­sive De­mo­c­ra­t­ic Pa­tri­ot.

“But, he un­sure of where he (Al-Rawi) is go­ing or com­ing as an MP with the 2020 na­tion­al elec­tion in sight. There­fore, the nau­se­at­ing ideas em­anate from his PNM mind,” said Duke of Al-Rawi.

Reporter: Sascha Wilson