Bring more proof if you can, or fall victim to negative public perception.
This was the view of former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj in relation to Minister of National Security Stuart Young’s statements which suggested that certain individuals seemed to benefit from the recent crime spike.
“As a Minister, when making statements, you have to be very careful if you do not have facts to support it, you cannot share these facts with the members of the public and the reason that I have been careful with that as a Minister is that when you make a statement as a public official and you do not provide the facts, the public can draw adverse inferences that you are not providing the facts to support because you do not want the public to know,” Maharaj opined when asked about the statements on Friday.
“Therefore,” he said “unless it is a matter of National Security and you’re sure it is a matter of National Security but I think the members of the public would be able to draw adverse inferences from the statement of the Minister and I think that maybe the Minister should try and give as much information as he can to allay the fears or the thoughts of the members of the public.”
Hours after Minister Young made the assertion at the post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday, the Opposition United National Congress denied any connection to recent shootings.
The former AG said while there may be inferences from Young’s statements, it would have been completely irresponsible to directly blame a member of the opposition, especially without providing evidence.
“Well, it would be totally irresponsible for any Minister of Government from any administration to make allegations against either Members of Parliament or the Government when there is no evidence to support it. And I believe that if a minister makes those allegations against a member of the opposition the member of the opposition or the opposition should demand that the Minister provide proof of it,” he said.
Maharaj was a feature speaker at a press conference at the Lakshmi Girls Hindu School which focused on the Sanathan Dharma Maha Sabha’s victory in the High Court on Monday.
Maharaj praised the late Sat Maharaj’s challenge of the sedition act, which he said was archaic and infringed on free speech and citizens’ rights.
The senior counsel, however, was not impressed with Attorney General Faris Al Rawi’s description of Justice Frank Seepersad’s ruling on the act.
“I want to advise the Attorney General that there are many avenues of having laws to protect the tranquility of the nation. There are existing laws and there are laws that can be enacted but there is no basis for saying this is a dangerous judgment,” he said.
“As a matter of fact, with the greatest respect to him the statements which he has made are very dangerous and I would ask him to withdraw them because they are very dangerous to accuse a judge of giving a dangerous statement.”
Maharaj however said he welcomed the Government’s appeal of the ruling.