Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sir Brian Alleyne Comments on Article 47 (2) of Integrity in Public Office (IPO)

Lennox Linton had asked me to let him have an explanation of section 47 of the IPO Act. The Commission has authorized me to submit the attached document as reflecting its understanding of the section.

I hope this contributes in a positive way to a better understanding and places the discussion on a rational level.

So many of us disregard the demands of ethical standards and conduct and seek to justify our misdeeds on a reliance on narrow interpretations of legality.

Public service, however, is a relationship of trust between the public servant and the people (especially in relation to elected officials), and ethical considerations, rather than or beyond narrow legality, is what should govern the conduct of public officials.

That principle is so well-established that it does not need to be supported by authority, but authority is available in abundance.

Sir Brian Alleyne.



Under subsection (1) of this section, if possession of property disproportionate to a person in public life’s legitimate sources of income has been proved beyond reasonable doubt, the offence under the section is established and the person is liable to criminal penalties.

Subsection (2) addresses the preliminary stage of suspicion. In order for the Commission to be moved to investigate, the suspicion must be “reasonable” within the definition of that term, otherwise the Commission would be seen to be acting in an oppressive manner, as in an inquisitorial inquiry, in the derogatory sense, defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as “A persistent, gruelling examination conducted without regard for the examinee’s dignity or civil rights.”

This is not the system that our criminal or civil law follows, although there are certain proceedings, such as certain Commissions of Inquiry, which proceed on an inquisitorial basis, whereby the Commission conducts the trial, determines what questions to ask, and defines the scope and extent of the inquiry.

But even in such proceedings the person’s dignity and civil rights must be respected. It would not be in keeping with our system of justice to embark on such an inquiry without some good grounds for suspicion, which grounds must be evidence-based rather than purely speculative. In addition, the process must be guided by the general principles of fairness addressed by section 8 of the Constitution.

To justify an inquiry there must first be a person in public life or a person who, at a relevant time, was a person in public life. That person must, on at the very least some possibly inconclusive or slight evidence, but not, in my opinion on no evidence at all, be suspected to be in possession of property or pecuniary resources which are disproportionate to his legitimate sources of income.

That property may be held by the person himself or by another on his behalf. To proceed on the basis of no evidence at all would be oppressive and could be classified as malicious and vindictive persecution, a concept far removed from legitimate prosecution.

The evidence on which the Commission may proceed must be evidence in the possession of the Commission, which can be produced to a court and shown to be a legitimate basis for suspicion.

Like every other public authority, the Commission is subject to judicial review of its actions by the High Court, and as in the Rowley case out of Trinidad the Commission’s actions can be restrained or penalised by injunction and an award of damages.

Professor Albert Fiadjoe in his book Commonwealth Caribbean Public Law, at page 32, says that the courts have taken the liberty to prescribe conditions of fair procedure in the decision making process by filling in any interstices required.

In the end, the court will determine what is just and convenient to maintain the action/decision of the public body. The court will seek to find a nexus between the breach complained of and a constitutional requirement, where there is no specific provision in the relevant law or rules which covers the case at hand.

Fiadjoe argues in favour of the specific statutes making explicit provisions to ensure fairness in procedure. However, when Parliament or the rule making body has failed to make rules that enable the citizen to enjoy the plenitude of rights conferred by the Constitution, that are known, published, laid and formulated in accordance with proper procedure, the courts should treat any action “attracting a constitutional infection” as ultra vires and unlawful.

The Minister having thus far failed to make rules, we must follow internal procedures which steer clear of “attracting constitutional infection”. The Commission must refrain from proceeding against any person except on the basis of concrete evidence which at least raises a real suspicion of corrupt conduct leading to the possession of unaccounted property.

Fiadjoe, in his chapter on Natural Justice, posits that the subject involves much more than the valiant attempts by the common law to develop a coherent set of principles to guide the process of informed decision making. He places the principles of natural justice on “a pedestal such that it is perhaps the most important developmental area of public law today.”

He cites Lord Guest in Wiseman v Borneman as ruling that “if the statute is silent upon the question, the courts will imply into the statutory provision a rule that the principles of natural justice should be applied.” Fiadjoe develops the principle and widens it to include the principles of fair hearing and absence of bias.

He cites Lord Bridge of Harwich in Lloyd v McMahon that “when a statute has conferred on anybody the power to make decisions affecting individuals, the courts will not only require the procedure prescribed by the statute to be followed, but will readily imply so much and no more to be introduced by way of additional safeguards as will ensure the attainment of fairness.”

The right to a fair hearing naturally and necessarily implies the requirement that there be evidence on which an accusation of wrongdoing can be based.

If the Commission were to require a person to explain the possession of ‘disproportionate’ property or pecuniary resources, the person would have to be informed of the property he is alleged to possess, its value, the basis on which it is suspected to be disproportionate to his legitimate sources of income, and, if the property is suspected to be held by another on his behalf, who is that other, and why it is believed that that other person holds the property on behalf of the person in public life.

If that information is not available, or cannot be disclosed to the person in public life, that person may simply ask “Why am I here? Why are you persecuting me?” It is germane to point out that the burden of proving any allegation falls squarely on the person making the complaint. This is in keeping with basic principle and is made a specific requirement by section 55 of the Act.

It is clear that any action under section 47(2) must be based on what is called prima facie evidence.

Response by Lennox Linton
Sir Brian:
Thanks for your focused contribution to this very important discussion.

47(2) Where a person who is or was a person in public life or any other person on his behalf is suspected to be in possession of property or pecuniary resource disproportionate to his legitimate sources of income, the Commission shall conduct an inquiry into the source of income of the person.

Suspicion, as I understand it, is about thinking or believing something is wrong without proof or with very little evidence.

We need to keep in mind that the duty imposed on the Commission to investigate suspicions that persons in public life are holding property that is disproportionate to their legal income, is not a directive to find and condemn anyone guilty.

In its role in the defense against corruption in public office, we are told the IPO is primarily an investigative tool. So let the Commission not be fearful of investigations lawfully triggered either by its own careful consideration or by public complaints.

Prosecutorial action, if the findings of the investigations so necessitate, is the responsibility of the DPP.

As such, I hope it is not being suggested that the Commission is only minded and/or legally required to investigate matters where prima facie cases of wrong-doing have being established by complainants in order to validate suspicions.

For perspective, I thought that what is called prima facie evidence is precisely what is established by investigation. Now it seems, in the Commission's interpretation of 47(2), ordinary citizens must do their own investigation and come up with the prima facie evidence that will enable the Commission to decide whether or not there is a suspicion with sufficient legitimacy to trigger its own investigative action pursuant to 47(2).

What then would be the difference in evidentiary value between the investigation the commission expects from private citizens and the investigation that the law requires the commission to conduct?

Do we need prima facie evidence of the legitimacy of the suspicion of holding unaccounted property to be established by John Public investigations and then prima facie evidence of the holding of unaccounted property to be established by the Commission?

Nonetheless, while there are clear provisions for complaints from the public with respect to breaches of the Code of Conduct, the Integrity in Public Office Act makes no such provisions in so far as the holding of unaccounted property is concerned.

So that any complaint from a member of the public purporting to seek cover under section 47 ought to be ruled inadmissible by the Commission since it has no legal authority to receive it.

The requirement to investigate mandated by 47(2) has been conferred on the Commission and the commission only acting on what it considers to be suspicion. Any attempt to bring the public into it appears to require an appropriate amendment to the law.

I guess if any of this makes sense it probably leaves us in a bit of a quandary which we will be led out of, sooner rather than later.

Kind Regards,

Response by Clayton Shillingford
On this particular issue of what 47(2) means I am on Linton's side.. I am not comfortable with the notion that where there is suspicion of has been alleged in a number of cases...e.g. the land and garbage bin purchases etc ... that the citizen is the one to investigate. Seems odd!!!

Linton's definition accords with mine "Suspicion, as I understand it, is about thinking or believing something is wrong without proof or with very little evidence"

In the case of the land and garbage bin purchases... as examples... there is more than " very little evidence" .
And Tony Astaphan's admonition to me and others to bring "proof" does not accord with the common sense understanding of "suspicion" as the trigger for investigation.

Does the Bar Association, other legal minds have an opinion...or are these issues of alleged wrongdoing and their elucidation to be left entirely to Sir Brian...

In his recent note on these matters Sir Brian has said " In this message I want to make it clear that I am speaking for myself, not for the commission"..

What other legal minds or persons on the IPO Commission can speak on these public interest matters? What about the Chairman?

Response by Anthony Asthaphan

Surprise surprise surprise!!!! Clayton has chosen the sound legal analysis of Linton over that of the former Chief Justice of the OECS!!

We appear to be now asking, after centuries of the development of the common law, which requires objective proof before the initiation of civil and criminal powers and inquiries, and the protection of fundamental rights to which all are entitled, that we should revert to naked speculative suspicion; in other words, from the rule of law to the law of the jungle.

The common law has for centuries required that all powers based on "suspicion" be read as reasonable cause to suspect. It is now well over 100 years that the Law Lords in the United Kingdom told us that there can be no lawful basis for suspicion or reasonable cause to suspect unless based on some fact and objective evidence exists!

Why? Because suspicion, born in a man's mind, particularly one bent with partisan hostility and animosity, is capable of concoction and mischief.

Another thing so plain and obvious that my friends at home nod their tiny heads in full agreement when ever I tell them this. How do you judge whether a suspicion is bona fides and well founded? By an x-ray of the accuser's brain or by an initial assessment of facts?

Or is the present argument that I have no evidence whatsoever to establish or support my suspicion, ( say I see Clayton coming from a DFP meeting and I suspect he is an adviser and strategist for the DFP, but in fact he was simply having dinner at the Garraway) but the Police and IPO must investigate and subject a man's reputation and liberty to public destruction, simply to establish my bona fides and objective basis of my suspicion? And what if after public destruction of reputations, it turns out that my complaint was baseless or politically motivated?

Were it not for Parry's trespass, my temptation was to say, there they go again!

The law for centuries has been that unless a complaint has merit there can be no basis for an investigation. The law condemns arbitrariness and fishing expeditions when reputations and liberty are at stake.

Want a reason? Just imagine the madness if the IPO or Police sought to take Edison James's magical moment seriously when he sought to pose questions as to whether the Prime Minister has an interest in properties? the problem some have, Parry excluded, is that we have deluded ourselves into thinking that talk radio is a mechanism for truth. It is not. It is high biodegradable electronic lynching!

But my confusion in all of this has a simply basis. I though the media journalists were conducting "investigations" and had evidence!! they say so every day. I thought when the mouth pieces of the DFP and UWP rant rave and froth in the mouth that X,Y and X are corrupt they had evidence!!!! It is now obvious, they do not.

Oh Clayton, may I suggest you go on EBay to solicit an opinion which conflicts with Sir Brian. Because no sane or rational lawyer, who understands the law, will disagree with him.

Response by Julius Corbette
Tony, if section (47)2 holds, what does suspicion mean for the purpose of an investigation? Edison James claimed that when he was suspected of owning a hotel in Barbados, the Inland Revenue wrote him to come clean? Based on your argument, it would appear that the Inland Revenue had acted outside its authority. But did they?

This intrigues me particularly when lay people such as Linton, Parry and Lenox, are questioning the legal experts on their interpretation of the law. Good stuff my friend, really good stuff. Tell us more. Oh, did you actually see Clayton coming from the meeting where he might have given advise, or you suspect he gave advise? (Lol).

Response by Lennox Linton

Especially since we should not now expect any investigative action from the IPO commission with respect to 47(2), it is probably worthwhile to suggest that the legal luminaries propose to their government a suitable change in the wording of 47(2) instead of infecting this discussion with predictably puerile, partisan bias.

I am not the author of 47(2) and take no responsibility for its use of term "suspected to be". If those who advised and agreed that it be put there no longer like it there, then they must remove it, particularly in light of the clear inference before us that it will bever be used... at least not by this IPO Commission under the legal guidance of a former Chief Justice of the OECS Supreme Court who stands firm in the view that suspicions of unaccounted property must be validated by prima facie evidence before the Commission considers inquiring into the sources of income of the person in public life suspected to be in possession of unaccounted property.

By the way, when a Senior Counsel - a senior practitioner at the bar for more than 20 years - publishes an outrageous concoction of blatant lies about the financial affairs of persons he does not like, is that suspicion based on prima facie evidence or is it action inspired by the wisdom contained in the following:

"The common law has for centuries required that all powers based on "suspicion" be read as reasonable cause to suspect. It is now well over 100 years that the Law Lords in the United Kingdom told us that there can be no lawful basis for suspicion or reasonable cause to suspect unless based on some fact and objective evidence exists! Why? Because suspicion, born in a man's mind, particularly one bent with partisan hostility and animosity,is capable of concoction and mischief".

Is "high biodegradable electronic lynching" OK when Tony Astaphan does it to the political opponents of the Dominica Labour Party but unacceptable otherwise?

When Tony lies and/or peddles baseless politically motivated criticisms and repeats them ad nauseum even though he knows his is wrong, is that rule of law or law of the jungle?

For those who continue to ask, even though they know the answers to their red-herring questions about evidence, Talk Radio in Dominica has exposed uncontested truths and facts in a number of cases including but not limited to the following:

1) the involvement of Ambrose George in a 419 advanced fee fraud scheme using the facilities of his public office
2) the abuse of concessions granted to the companies of former Ambassador David Hsiu through which he secured personal multi-million dollar benefit aided and abetted by Roosevelt Skerrit
3) the looting of over 500 thousand dollars from the treasury through a fraudulent garbage bin transaction involving Roosevelt Skerrit as the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and the brother of a member of the Skerrit Cabinet
4) the numerous irregularities in the corporate affairs of BlairCourt Property Development Limited in respect of which credible evidence supports the "suspicion" of a Roosevelt Skerrit ownership interest
5) the abuse of public office for Roosevelt Skerrit's private political gain through the ad hoc disbursement of public funds for unverified and highly questionable emergency public support through his "Red Clinic"
6) the use of a convicted money launderer to source 100 thousand US dollars to pay the political advisor of Roosevelt Skerrit
7) the use of Village Councils to siphon money to bribe citizens for their votes under the totally bogus rationale of housing assistance

But, none are so blind like those of us who refuse to see.

Like the love of God the hypocrisy passeth all understanding... like the mercy of God, it is on track to go on forever.

Come down father...

Come down.

Response by Anthony Asthaphan
My dear Lennox,

Many thanks for the invitation to advise on suitable wordings. But I suspect ( no pun intended) this invitation may be too late even if offered in good faith.

I remember only too well the days when I sought to explain that the IPO could not be given effect because of financial constraints, I was pilloried by you and others. And in more recent times prior to the giving effect to the IPO Act when the Prime Minister invited political parties to make representations or suggestions, he too was pilloried.

I also recall when I spoke on Matt's show when asked, I told Matt that in my view the Act needed revision, the UWP charge of the blue brigade which included you sough to drag me to the nearest lamp post!

On the financial affairs, my publication was not based on mere suspicion. It was based on credible evidence received in confidence. The details and data were such, including methods and amounts of withdrawals, that there was , and remains no doubt in my mind, that the information received has a sound basis in fact.

Add to this, the undeniable fact that the UWP received funding from Taiwan through its Political Leader just weeks before the 2005 election; a fact confirmed by

(i) the failure to deny and

(ii) statements made to me by former senior members of the UWP. Oh and I forgot,

(iii) the treacherous act of encouraging the flying of the Taiwanese flag, no doubt in exchange for something given.

But you can expose me as a liar or someone reckless with the truth if you and Mr. James agree to disclose all, not some, all bank accounts ( active and closed) in your respective names since 2005.

On my condemnation of Edison James and others, I rely on concrete facts, indisputable evidence, and in many instances documented by the highest authority for example ( and by no means exhaustive)

1. The Gonsalves Commission of Inquiry Report which condemned Edison as a man reckless with the truth.

2. The Judgment against Edison James and his payment if damages to Miss Charles for lying!

3. The unlawful lease of State lands to James in direct violation of the law, documented.

4. The North Eastern Quarries business plan signed by a sitting Prime Minister which including only State projects, submitted as part of the plot to source funding from the Venture Capital Fund set up to help small businesses.

5. The Cabinet decisions that required farmers to source materials only from a company owned by a Minister.

6. The rip off of the Treasury when lucrative contracts were disbursed to activists or companies owned by Ministers without the shred of a public tender.

7. Decisions by Boards and contracts which conferred lucrative contracts to Directors who happened to be activists of the UWP.

8. Witness statements from public servants at Public Works on the misuse of state resources on the instructions of UWP Ministers for the benefit of friends and supporters.

9. The camouflage of staunch activists as "media" and planting them at DBS as news directors and what have you. You can add to that the "political assassinations" of Johnson Jno Rose and Jeff Scotland!

10. The judgments of the Court of Appeal in Sabroche and Urban Baron Matters where the UWO were indicted for naked abuse of power.

11. The naked abuse of LPOs when persons living in the middle of our great land were given LPOs by UWP Politicians when these LPOs were intended to assist persons who suffered coastal damage because of high seas!

On to your issues. Quite apart from who say or disclosed what, the following are the facts. I say facts because all that you have itemized are your own subjective conclusions and nothing else. Typical, once the Pharaoh speaks, no damn dog bark ( as VC Bird used to say).

• Ambrose George. Good Lord. The only complaint you ever made of Mr. George was that he used a government email address in seeking to get involved, as you put it, in a scam which would have scammed him!!!How does that become corruption or a crime I do not know. Your complaint to the IPO was precisely that and the complaint to the Police was investigated and discussed with the DPP.

• David Hsiu. More nonsense. David Hsiu obtained no personal concessions. The concessions were granted to the joint venture which included the Government. Now Shangri La is entitled to those concessions.

You sat in court every day in the BVI and there ought to be no doubt in your mind that should Chen and the Government succeed the Government will control 51% of the company entitled to the concessions. Hsiu's company Rich Victory will be reduced to a 4% shareholder. But this is also part of your half truth campaign. You never disclose

( i) Hsiu and Grace Tung were DA's Ambassadors for years under the UWP,

(ii) the UWP also granted concessions AND

(iii) the UWP permitted Hsiu and Tung to sell passports valued in the millions of USD. NOT A SINGLE PASSPORT HAS BEEN SOLD THROUGH HSIU AT LAYOU SINCE SKERRIT BECAME PM.

• The bins. I accept that the bins were overpriced. I also know a significant refund was paid. But what evidence is there of the PM and Dopwell's brother "involvement" in the "looting" of the Treasury?

For the record, I accept that the transaction ought not to have been done the way it was, even if there are no regulations requiring tenders for external contracts. Fine, but my difficulty with you and others on this issue was the shrill cries of corruption against the Prime Minister!

So adamant you and others were ( including some in the Diaspora) that you threatened to file charges in the USA against Skerrit!!Also, while in dramatic style you " disclosed" this "bin bobol" you never disclosed that the documents and paper trail established that senior accounting officers were in constant communication with Dopwell through out this transaction.

• Blaircourt. Total and absolute nonsense. The Prime Minister has no personal interest in these properties despite your well crafted suspicions.

• The public support program. Again, total absolute nonsense. The line item in the Estimates has been approved by Parliament now for over three years. Every disbursement is audited by the Director of Audit, and the Public Accounts Committee is authorized to examine the Government's accounts.

Despite this, and the fact that this is now the 4th year of the program, not a shred of evidence to show wanton or corrupt abuse. Some have said perhaps the decision should not lie only with the Prime Minister. But it simply does not. The Prime Minister as Minister of Finance has the final say on expenditure.

If he has the last surely he must have the first. But the Prime Minister also explained the process and the due diligence conducted by officers in his Ministries. In addition, the whop de doo allegations of cash and signed cheques by the Prime Minister were nothing short of fabrications.

The Prime Minister has no access to cash and he cannot and does not sign cheques. The only authorized signatures are the Accountant General and his or her Deputy. And, again , no access to the new smart stream accounting system which is not only password protected but politicians have no access.

• Use of convicted moneylauderer. Use by whom?? Between me and you, this is more salacious radio drama but still hogwash.

• Village Councils and housing assistance. Well, I suppose under the edict of the Most Righteous Crusader helping the poor and those in need is now corruption!

So you see Lennox, I give you credit for disclosing half truths and fabricating stories by taking a few grains of truth to construct a mountain of lies. This is what I refer to as "high biodegradable electronic lynching!"

What this debate is about though is the rule of law not the wild wild west created on the airwaves. It is therefore one thing to disclose ALL of the facts and the truth, which you do not. It is another thing to paint a picture of corruption and criminality on mere wind, cut and paste, excerpts striped out of context, or grains of moving sand, which you do well, because it suits your partisan political agenda.

Submitted not on suspicion but on fact.

Monday, February 23, 2009

DR Sam Christian on corruption and appeal to people of faith

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Corruption in High and Low Places Must Die for Dominica to Survive (Gabriel Christian)

First, let me say that I sign my name to my letters and writings. And I do not let friendship and party allegiances blind me to truth. I have been attacked and maligned for standing for truth and asking questions which are legitimate in a democracy.

I am sure they are from people who considered themselves my friends or "comrades" at some point. To the attackers I say: attack me all you will, you still cannot seem to address the threshold question: Why is Dominica being sued? Are we being sued because Lennox Linton is a bitter man? A UWP supporter?

Is Dominica being sued because Gabriel Christian did not get a contract or some such? These wild thrashings seek to slay the messengers - but cannot undermine the message. What was the thrust of my article? It condemned corruption in public office; and it did so based on a lawsuit involving sale of our passports - the essence of our citizenship.

When a message states: Disassociate yourselves from corruption how can one argue with that? Why should that message send anyone into a frenzied attack against those who alerted our public to matters of the national interest conducted by Chinese posing as Dominicans in Las Vegas and the resultant lawsuit.

An unprecedented lawsuit in which the ambassador assails the country's leader and is still an ambassador until Lennox disclosed same. The panicked flailing of those who attack us is symptomatic of those caught in the morass of their misdeeds and who now realize that people are waking up. So, apologists , stop this sort of low down mepuis. Stop trying to dupe the workers and peasants – the masses? Do not cuddle ignorance. Do not bribe the poor and so mock their poverty. Do not take Dominicans for fools?

Be assured, we will stand firm to root out the lawlessness that the unscrupulous have foisted on our land. And none shall escape the judgment of history.

On another point, some have accused me of condemning corruption in Government simply because I was denied some "contract." We have consistently called for a National Renewable Energy company working for our country's best interest, such as what the National Commercial and Development Bank in 1978 did for us in the finance sector. See my 2006 article at:

Why we have never sought to enrich ourselves at the expense of the public till. So why use character assassination and silly tribal politics to thwart the quest for truth and good governance? What a sad day when one posts internet excuses for corrupt and inept behavior by asking: What country is not corrupt? That person is literally justifying misdeeds by those in political office.

Now we know how some countries have come to sink into the bottomless pit of inequity because of the existence of those apologists who do amazing somersaults to excuse the inexcusable. For those who know me I have always condemned the sale of our citizenship. Where I stand for right, I do not call for violence. Those who do violence to our country are those who savage our ethics, good name and civic culture by taking bribes, employing unsavory characters and using fraud artists as King to conduct foreign policy.

Now, I ask the cowards who attack me under the name "anonymous" - show your names. Do not be afraid to show yourselves; I will not victimize you, like I have been in the past for holding high the noble values of the real Labour Party. Was I a hateful and bitter person then? This is not some political game and the time for partisanship is over where we deal with an issue of our survival.

All noble Dominicans must now unite to face this grave threat. This irresponsibility which has usurped the national political authority is a rebuke to our fallen heroes and cannot be countenanced any more. Dominicans, wake up! We are being re-colonized by this sale of our birthright. Now, my erstwhile friends, answer the following:

1., Why is Dominica being sued?

2. Why are Dominican tax dollars used to defend an action in which we - the people - had no say or involvement?

3. Why are the e-mail communications for matters which are clearly of a legal and binding nature, not from the Attorney General and/or Minister of Legal Affairs?

4. Is the Attorney General an accomplice or is he/she left out of the loop?

5. Is the Minister of Legal Affairs an accomplice or outside the loop?

6. Where have the monies for the passports gone?

7. If the monies were deposited into the national treasury, when was that done? Where is the money?

8. How many passports have been issued since the ascension of PM Skerrit and at what price? And to whom?

9. Has the Government Auditor performed an audit to determine the number of passports sold and the monies earned:

a. Who are the passport agents selling passsports?

b. To whom do they report?

c. And when and how are monies accounted for?

10. When and how did Cabinet make the decisions re the ownership of Shangri La?

11. Does the government own 51% or did the PM waive the 51% ownership share as alluded to by the unsigned letter referred to by Hsiu.

12. Why were the e-mail communications sent by the PM himself and not the office of Legal Counsel - i.e. AG or Minister of Legal Affairs?

13. Will these Chinese and other dollar-citizens vote in our upcoming elections? If so, what are the risks to our democracy and future independence?

14. When Hsiu recommends that he asks the Chinese national government to intervene in the internal affairs of our country to bolster the current government, is that acceptable? Would reasoned judgement not consider such intervention in the affairs of a sovereign nation treason?

15. Why was it up to Lennox Linton to expose to the public and the world that our country was in a BVI lawsuit in which its standing ambassador to China is calling our Prime Minister a liar? And that Chinese remained ambassador until Lennox Linton raised the issue?

16. What is the CMC plan for Portsmouth?

So, my friends our image has been damaged. Our national interest is under grave threat. And 30 years after independence from Britain we are being slowly recolonized with the complcity of those who have betrayed the Labour Party and the country. Let those with a sense of historical memory and a semblance of patriotic commitment do right.

Dominica is a society based on rule of law and these questions must be answered by the Prime Minister with clarity and precision. ABSENT AN ANSWER, THEN WE ARE TO CONCLUDE THAT ANSWERS WHERE GIVEN WOULD HAVE BEEN UNSATISFACTORY. SILENCE IS NOT AN OPTION.


Beware the beneficiaries of incompetent, corrupt governance (Lennox Linton)

I have read with interest a response from Tony Astaphan to Gabriel Christian’s article on the Dominican.Net entitled “Lest History Repeats Itself - We Need a Unity and Progress Government Now!”

For the record, Astaphan is representing the Skerrit government in the BVI lawsuit in question and has already picked up in fees (before June 30, 2008) 95 thousand dollars from the tax payers for this matter that involves the rectification of a share register for a company of five shareholders.

He is on record in 2007 saying that David Ambassador Hsiu (who is central to the legal action) should resign or be recalled... In 2008 he changed that position to indicate that while he felt Hsiu should resign this was not the right time because of the court matter.

In other words it was quite OK in his book for the Prime Minister and the country's Ambassador to Beijing to be at war in a BVI court. It can only be inferred from this disgraceful brand of flip-flop that 95 thousand dollars buys a lot of supper singing capabilities

A couple of observations:

1) Contrary to the statements of Astaphan, there is no public record information that Roosevelt Skerrit took the initiative to have government own 51% shares of the Shangri-La which controls whatever is left of the assets of the failed Layou River Hotel project. The 51% was gifted to the government as part of the plot to wiggle out of the theft of Felix Chen's 20 million US dollars.

As part of that plot as well, Hsiu moved to liquidate the company in the BVI court. Skerrit said nothing and did nothing until Felix Chen (whose 20 million US dollars has still not been refunded by Hsiu contrary to a November 2006 directive from Skerrit) objected to the liquidation by filing a share register rectification lawsuit that named the Government of Dominica as a party.

In that regard, the conversations between Hsiu and Skerrit at the Dorchester in London in February 2008 and the documented evidence from Hsiu that Skerrit agreed government had no interest in the property, cannot be ignored for Tony's convenience.

2) According to sworn statements before the BVI court, the intended share transfer to government was cancelled on November 24, 2006. 20 days before, on November 04, 2006, Skerrit wrote to Hsiu accusing him of a range of improprieties and directing him to refund the 20 million US dollars paid by Felix Chen for a 40% share of the Shangri-La.

But almost one year later, in October 2007 when Felix Chen showed up in Dominica and confirmed in media interviews his agreement with the position taken by Skerrit that the money should be refunded, Skerrit hastily called the same David Hsiu (who had given the shares and taken them back) for them to strategize on a defense. What defense? What would Skerrit be defending with Hsiu at that time almost one year after he directed Hsiu to refund the man's money?

As we read in the court papers, Alick Lawrence was to be dispatched immediately to Hong Kong to agree on the defense strategy. Hsiu instead set up a meeting for Las Vegas on October 25, 2007. Consequently, Skerrit missed the opening of the stadium gifted by the Chinese for a meeting in which he chose to rely not on the advice and support of his attorney general, solicitor general or minister of legal affairs, but on his personal political advisor Hartley Henry.

The record of that meeting is in evidence in the BVI court matter. To date, neither Skerrit nor Astaphan has the courage to challenge any of the very disturbing statements made by Hsiu. We are simply supposed to ignore what Hsiu says about Skerrit (who addresses him as “brother and friend”) because Hsiu has been involved in this Layou River Scandal from Day one.

Of significant interest, Skerrit's affidavit was filed on June 02, 2008. Hsiu's affidavit was filed one week earlier on May 26, 2008. Skerrit has confirmed that his affidavit was in response to the submission from Hsiu which, incidentally, branded Skerrit as a liar. In the public interest, it cannot now be simply a case of stone cold silence on the blatant refusal to refute the damaging statements by Hsiu against the government, especially the direct accusations of dishonesty against Skerrit. The public is entitled to an explanation. So far, none has been forthcoming. Specifically, there is no contest, objection or denial in respect of the following:

• Hsiu's various direct statements indicating that Roosevelt Skerrit is dishonest and dishonourable
• The compromising statements about the involvement of Cabinet, the Attorney General and the President in the Bellagio and Dorchester decisions by Skerrit that appear to have gone in favour of Hsiu
• The willingness of Skerrit to comply with a Hsiu directive that he should relieve himself of US Secret Service protection for the Las Vegas meeting
• The invitation to the Chinese Government to interfere in the internal politics of Dominica
These uncontested matters are now more than one year old. Would Astaphan now agree that they stand undenied as truth and fact?

The 20 million dollar question is: Why has Skerrit failed to defend himself in the face of such brutal attacks on his integrity by David Hsiu?

For the avoidance of doubt, Hsiu remains Skerrit's friend with the right to say whatever he wants and impugn the office that Skerrit holds.

To the great consternation of Astaphan and the Skerrit choir, it was Lennox Linton who, in his private media practice capacity (free of cost to the tax payers) honoured the public's right to know by committing over two hours of radio time on July 27, 2008 to the affidavit of Skerrit filed in the BVI court; and who committed a similar amount of time to the Hsiu affidavit on February 14, 2009.

Yet he is the villain… Not Hsiu. Skerrit refers Lennox Linton as a political “suicide bomber” and a “political assassin”. There are no such derogatory descriptions of Hsiu even though Skerrit has presented documented evidence to the BVI court that Hsiu has corruptly abused concessions granted to his companies in good faith for his private multi-million dollar gain.

The special edition of Between U and Me on Q95 on July 27, 2008, featured a detailed 2 hour interactive presentation on the salient points of Skerrit’s June 2008 affidavit and his unsigned November 4th, 2006 letter to Hsiu in support of the affidavit. The record exists in the archives of Q95. There is no need for Tony Astaphan and others to seek to entitle themselves to their own facts regarding bias in media disclosures on this matter.

In the course of the July 27, 2008 presentation, Lennox Linton categorically stated that Hsiu and Skerrit were at loggerheads in the BVI court. In the circumstances, he asked why then was Hsiu still our Ambassador to Beijing. Additionally, he pointed out, for background and perspective, that this was not the Government's court action against Hsiu... the action was taken by Shangri-La shareholder Felix Chen who named government as a defendant and therefore gave Skerrit a chance to stake government's claim to the 51% of the Shangri-La shares.

So let’s get the facts straight and let’s stick to the truth as opposed lies and political spin.

Those who so desire are free to continue bashing Gabriel Christian, Lennox Linton and anyone else who has the backbone to stand and be counted for what is good and just and hope that the “mepuis” and “mauvais lange” engaged to destroy messengers will prevent the hijacking of Dominica's international image by a bunch of unconscionable self interest prostitutes.

Lennox Linton

A Call to Remove the Death Penalty in Dominica (By Thomson Fontaine)

In the recent past, Dominica has seen an alarming acceleration in the murder rate. During 2008, eight murders were reported up from 3 in 2007, and so far in 2009, 3 Dominicans have been brutally murdered.

In 2008, 23 people were murdered in St. Kitts (Population 46 000); 45 persons were murdered in St. Lucia and over a thousand each in Trinidad and Jamaica.
While the number of people murdered in Dominica are small compared to the rest of the region, the trend is no less alarming.

If any of the people held in connection with the recent murders are found guilty by a jury of their peers, they will in all likelihood be sentenced by a judge to ‘be hung by the neck until well and truly dead’. The past three murder trials held in Dominica have resulted in the accused all going free.

The escalating violence in Dominica appears to have led to many calls for hanging to be carried out, because while it remains on the books, the last person to be executed was in 1983. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit went on record to categorically state that under no circumstances would the death penalty be removed from the laws of Dominica.

He has been supported by many in government and has even gained the support of popular evangelical preacher Pastor Bernard Joseph who was quoted as saying "I believe Dominica will not be doing something that is socially just by removing capital punishment from the books."

Father Franklyn Cuffy in keeping with a long time tradition of the catholic church has been very vocal in calling for abolishing of the death penalty. Also calling for restraint is historian Lennox Honychurch whose own father was brutally murdered in 1982. Their voices however appears to be drowned out by the growing drum beat of those within the society who are calling for the death sentence to be carried out.

The specter of capital punishment, particularly carried out by hanging, as is the case in Dominica, hangs (no pun intended) over the country like a dark, foreboding relic of our history.

Not too long ago, slaves and sons and daughters of slaves were strung up in the old market place in the middle of Roseau to satisfy the morbid curiosity of passersby. Even more chilling was the fact that many of the hangings were on account of petty or some race related crime.

While we’ve shed most of the relics of this dark period of our history, we have held on to death by hanging as a way of purging society of murderers and persons convicted for treason. In some cases we are even under the mistaken belief that this will serve as a deterrent for would be murderers. Indeed, when persons were hanged during the slave era, they were kept on display to warn would be participants, not to for instance steal from the master.

The last Dominican to suffer such an ignominious fate was 35 year old former commander of the Dominica Defense Force Frederick Newton who was hanged at the Stock Farm Prison on August 8, 1986 for his role in the attempted overthrow of the Eugenia Charles government.

In the months and weeks leading to his demise, Newton was reported to have fasted and generally avoided eating as a means of protesting his fate. Witnesses reported that his largely emaciated frame kicked and jerked for several agonizing minutes before mercifully succumbing to death. His reduced body weight worked to prolong his agony and suffering.

Interestingly, six of his fellow coconspirators who were also sentenced to death had their sentences remitted to life in prison. Almost 30 years later all the men are leading productive lives back in society.

Amnesty International has labeled the death penalty as “cruel and unusual punishment”. For years, it has been abolished in Europe and several other countries with Dominica sharing the dubious record with Iraq, the US and a minority of countries that still carry out the death penalty.

In fact, only 68 countries retain the death penalty, with eleven of these been Caribbean countries. Since 1990, 48 countries have abolished the death penalty. Overall 137 countries have abolished the death penalty in fact or in law.

Capital punishment as a deterrent has been a dismal failure. Scientific studies have consistently found no convincing evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments. The most recent survey of research findings on the relation between the death penalty and homicide rates, conducted for the United Nations in 1988 and updated in 1996 and 2002, concluded that "research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment."

The death penalty remains on the books in Trinidad and Jamaica whose murder rates far exceeds even the most violent cities in the United States. Violence continues in St. Kitts where on 19 December 2008, the authorities executed Charles Elroy Laplace, who had been on death row for four years for the murder of his wife.

Notwithstanding the chorus of contrary voices, I think it’s time for Dominica to revisit the issue of the death penalty and consider abolishing this form of punishment as a means of freeing our country from one of its last vestiges of a brutal and merciless society. In so doing we can take our rightful place alongside the more progressive and enlightened countries in the world.

Senior counsel responds to call for unity government

The article on a call for a unity government is a extreme example of naivety and self serving interests creeping into our culture of politics. It is shameful that once again "a leader" in the Diaspora has seen it fit to jump on the back of some of the most jaundiced, dishonest and corrupt misrepresentations of information ever executed by any agent of political mischief.

Also, the suggestion that somehow this Layou saga is new is idiotic. David Hsiu, who is no longer Ambassdador, was involved from day one and dealt with the Edison James' Government between 1995 and 2000. He was made Ambassador to facilitate the transfer to China and new Chinese investments for the new joint venture agreement for Layou and other projects.

The fact is that this dispute concerning the Layou is now before the Court in the BVI. Mr. Felix Chen has repeatedly said, and publicly, he has the greatest confidence in the Prime Minister. The cherry picking of allegations by Lennox Linton made by a former Ambassador, once described as dishonest by the very executioner Linton, is not only startling.Simply put, it was downright dishonest, improper and unethical. No more, symptomatic of lunacy! Just imagine one day, a person is lynched as corrupt and dishonest, and the next, simply to satisfy a paro political urge, this same corrupt and dishonest person, becomes an angel of the truth and guess what? From the same twisted tongue!! This madness can only happen in and be swallowed hook line and sinker by some of our own people!

The Prime Minister has been the very first to stand up and demand 51% equity in the Layou River project. Prior to that the Freedom Party and Edison James allowed Grace Tung and David Hsiu FREE REIGN! I would add, that at no time did Prime Minister Skerrit sign or agree to sign any document to re transfer 51% back to Hsiu's companies. This flagrant lie exposes the nakedly dishonest motive of the liar! The Prime Minister on many occasions declared his position that the Government owns 51% of the equity during Parliamentary Debates. Additionally, he has documented his determination in letters to Hsiu and Kieron Pinard Byrne, which letters are also before the Court. None were tread by Mr. James' agent.

What transpired was that there were discussions aimed at a resolution. I too met with Hsiu's Attorneys, but we could not agree on acceptable terms. And, whenever the Prime Minister met with Hsiu and his delegation, I was constantly briefed by the Prime Minister who on many occasions accepted my advice during these discussions. The matter will now be determined by the Court.

The Prime Minister has sworn to an affidavit supported by documents to support the Governments claim and Felix Chen's assertion is his rectification case that the Government owns 51%. No significant part of this affidavit or documents, which set out the Government's case have been read. This notwithstanding, the Lennox Linton's of this world select, like scavengers in the Temple, isolated parts of documents and affidavits and read them entirely out of context, while his political boss and sometimes paymaster sits in the studio with him!

The basic rule of law is that the Court will decide on whether the Government indeed has 51% of the equity. And, rest assured no attempt by Hsiu, Linton or Gabriel will deter us from the mission before the High Court of the BVI now or at any other time!

In conclusion, the allegations of corrupt are simply dishonest, false and entirely baseless.

Anthony W Astaphan,S.C.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lest History Repeats Itself - We Need a Unity & Progress Government Now!

Concerned Dominicans and Friends:

Whether we have agreed with him in the past or not, we must all commend Lennox Linton for exposing the unsavory allegations now before a court in Tortola. Some of us had heard of these things and could not believe it true. The events in the summer 2008 and the government's geothermal license sell out of the national interest which Adenauer "Washway" Douglas and myself condemned, brought us in for criticism from some we considered friends and "comrades."

Then, we warned that such corrupt dealings over use and control over our natural resources would not find support from us and threatened the future of the country. Declared persona non grata from officialdom, we stood our ground. Now the program by Mr. Linton seems to shed some light into how government business in Dominica now often seems mired in the unethical.

This cannot be allowed to continue or we will lose our country. People will come into our country, seize it, and we will have no one but ourselves to blame where we knew better but shut our mouths, eyes, and ears and did nothing. We will be footstools to the paid-for citizens who have paid off our so-called leaders.

Cast about the world's landscape and witness the failed states which litter the globe. They are failed states because ordinary people, and the influential, allowed impunity to go unexposed and unpunished. The IPO Chairman must act and tell Dominicans why he has not made a move to officially act on the complaint filed by Mr. Linton. Why Mr. Johnson? Why the silence?

As we read of Bajans such as Hartley Henry advising our government in matters of state such as at the Bellagio in Vegas or with regard to China and "our" Ambassador David King Hsiu one cannot but recall another Bajan by the name of Sydney Burnette Alleyne in 1979. We saw that in 1979 the corrupt dealings of Patrick John led to social disorder and disturbances.

Despite progressive Labourites pleading with PJ to change his ways, he would not. When he would not listen, he lost power. Those of us who remember how misbehavior in office reaped the wrath of our people made this solemn warning last year, to no avail. Few in leadership took heed.

To Supporters of the Government

To all leaders of the Government and the honest men and women in the Labour Party: This is not what we struggled for a lifetime to do; put persons lacking in ethics and lawful behavior in charge of our affairs. We ask now, that you disassociate yourself before it is too late.

Most of you in the cabinet do not have a clue to what is being done in the name of our beloved homeland. Do not be heard to say you did not know of the misbehavior of those who were given a mandate to work honestly on behalf of the state. The news of unethical behavior has only gotten worst, even where the government has had every opportunity to clear its name.

Cabinet members routinely tell me they do not know anything about the meetings in Bellagio, Macau or what official status is held by the likes of Rudolph King (now under arrest for fraud) and Hartley Henry (the Barbadian named in papers from the Hsiu lawsuit in Tortola).

We also had the case of the Russian Laschkin who served as our ambassador in Switzerland and was being sued in 2006. To escape justice he used his diplomatic cover as Dominica’s ambassador and caused Dominica to file suit against the host country.

That suit was later, under the pressure of embarrassment of the figures involved, dismissed. Attorney General Ian Douglas claimed to know nothing of all this. And there is more to come from that angle of people being given diplomatic passports and sullying our people’s good name in the international arena; making us seem a nation of unscrupulous persons – which is not the case.

Dominicans are intelligent, law abiding and hard working for the most part and we must protect the image of our country at all times. Therefore this nonsense of having unsavory characters act as our ambassadors is a national disgrace and must stop now.

None in cabinet can tell me they agreed to such a sale of 700 passports for $100,000 each or they knew of the meetings at the Bellagio or Dorchester. Does not our cabinet have the authority to govern our affairs? Shall we be governed by the whims and fancies of a few government leaders out for their own personal interest? What role does Hsiu and Hartley Henry play in our affairs?

What is their mandate from our people? What is the scope of their contractual or other relationships with Dominica's government? Where are the memos they send to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as their names appear on our behalf in overseas dealings? At whose direction do these men operate?

Who will pay the bill when their conduct enmeshes us in commitments which result in lawsuits as that in Tortola? Who is paying the Prime Minister's legal expenses? Our people? And why should our treasury shoulder the bill where the activities being sued about have nothing to do with the national interest or was not agreed to by cabinet?

Will it be said that our cabinet is made up of the deaf, dumb and blind? Or will they, rise up in righteous indignation and redeem the honor of the country and those who died to make us free?

To my friends and the patriots in government, I say: Clear your names. Make it clear that you reject corruption and the use of public office for personal gain. All civil servants must now stand up and expose corruption where they see it. How will you answer when asked: What did you know? And when did you know it?

Your children and your children's children will remember your heroism and honor when you stand for what is right. All Dominicans of faith, honor and goodwill will applaud you. Only the ignoble, and their devious acolytes, will find fault with you. Of their threats you should never be afraid.

An informed and energized patriotic people will ensure that you shall survive the recriminations from those who only seek their own selfish interest not the national interest. The road to tyranny is paved with the complacence of those who remain silent in the face of inequitable conduct.

The Dominican Ambassador to the UN, when questioned, has distanced himself from this stench of corruption. We expect more government officials, ministers and supporters of the Dominica Labour Party to clearly distance themselves from any and all corrupt dealings - dealings done in Dominica's name by our so-called public servants.

Too many delayed their indignation and outrage at bad behavior in government and the Labour Party was consigned to 20 years in the political wilderness. We are at such an impasse once again, exactly 30 years after the fact. We must not make the same mistake. We must secure the best interest of our dear homeland first!

Now, with increasing economic challenges, our government is distracted by lawsuits and allegations of corrupt dealings such as the sale of 700 Dominica passports for $100,000 via David Hsiu. On the internet there is a photo of Dominica Ambassador David Hsiu donating money to China - where did that money come from? Passport sales? Who accounted for that money? How many Chinese citizens are there? How many are eligible to vote in the next elections? Without an answer to those questions our democracy will be endangered by phantom Dominicans casting ballots for their sponsors of choice.

What of ALBA?

What about ALBA and the heroism of Jose Marti and Simon Bolivar? What about "All Shall Eat" and the principles of social justice which motivate the members of that grouping? Do members of the ALBA group of nations sell out their birthright and natural resources?

Do they meet at fancy hotels such as the Dorchester, the Bellagio in Las Vegas or Macau to do deals on the side; behind the backs of their people. Or is ALBA about protecting social justice and making sure our geothermal energy, aggregate and other resources go toward the national interest and benefits the common man? Who are we trying to fool here?

ALBA is predicated on indigenous people controlling their affairs - not a sell out to foreign money men who can buy influence and sway a nation to their own nefarious ends.

2000 Election was about Good Governance

There was justified criticism of the UWP in 2000. There was the same issue of passport sales. Remember the 60 Chinese who showed up in Canada with Dominican passports? That event embarrassed the UWP and led Canada to tighten entry requirements for Dominicans entering that country.

Yet, despite these allegations against the UWP, no one was prosecuted. The election brought in a coalition of Labour, UWP and Freedom Party personages. Much good was accomplished at great cost; with much effort, sacrifice and loss of life of Rosie and Pierro; then some took a detour from the promises made and are leading our nation down the wrong path.

Where are we now? Do we have good governance? I must humbly suggest now that, despite some good moves, we have applauded - and still applaud - this government has lost its way. The 2000 Good Governance Coalition based on trust and ethics has collapsed and is not represented by the current administration. Hence the decision of an increasing number of honest Labour Party supporters to part ways from this mockery of LeBlanc, Rosie and Pierro's struggles for a better Dominica.

No Accountability? Remember 1979

Where is the accountability or transparency in this regime? Such good governance was the legacy of LeBlanc, Rosie and Pierro. We must never abandon that legacy. Mike Douglas must be turning in his grave that his son, Ian, as Minister of Legal Affairs, cannot be heard from at this crucial time.

Where trust is lost and the government is unable to explain these issues of corrupt dealings in any honest and forthright manner, rule of law is in danger. No wonder we see a flourishing of crime where there is an absence of sincere leadership in things big and small at the helm. Attached below is an article from the US Times Magazine - as a follow up to the 1979 debacle; it is worth reviewing. Fellow Dominicans take note: A people who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.

I say act now; take a stand and condemn corruption in public office. Separate yourselves from such behavior. Do not claim you did not know. We call on all Dominicans to support our call for a Unity and Progress Government which will bring all patriotic political forces - from all the parties - together. At a time of global economic meltdown we cannot afford leadership enmeshed in such distractions and allegations of wrongdoing which have not been rebutted with any degree of clarity or honesty. We need men and women who can focus on our beloved homeland's development and who will do their jobs honestly, competently, with the national interest foremost; without fair or favor.

Gabriel Christian