PORT OF SPAIN — “Enough talk. Time for action”.
Those were the first and fighting words of new National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday.
Reflecting her government’s continuing efforts to deal with the intractable crime situation, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday made her fourth appointment to the sensitive post of National Security in the person of the former Captain.
The previous National Security Ministers were Brigadier John Sandy (another military man), Jack Warner and Emmanuel George.
The other “surprise’ in Persad-Bissessar’s Cabinet reshuffle was the appointment of businessman and veteran political activist, Gerry Hadeed, to the position of Minister of Communications.
These two new faces replaced two dismissed ministers. The prime minister opened her statement to the nation with the announcement that she was dropping two persons from her cabinet — Jamal Mohammed who had held the communications portfolio since June last year and Christlyn Moore, who had been appointed Justice Minister last September following the sacking of Herbert Volney.
Mohammed listened stoically as the prime minister announced his revocation. He later said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve.
“It was a pleasure. I did my best. We move on,” he said.
Moore was not present.
The cabinet got two additional new faces — Rodger Samuel and Jairam Seemungal. While she dismissed one Congress of the People member (Mohammed), she elevated another to cabinet status. Samuel, a former Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister who had recently expressed dissatisfaction with the United National Congress’ treatment of COP members, had stated he was considering resigning and had gone on a fast. He was promoted to Minister of Diversity and Social Integration while Jairam Seemungal is Minister of Land and Marine Resources.
Seemungal’s appointment was the result of the splitting of the Ministry of Housing, Land and Marine Resources. Roodal Moonilal now holds the Housing and Urban Development portfolio.
Another ministry which was divided was Local Government and Infrastructure, Marlene Coudray, is now Minister of Local Government while Suruj Rambachan holds the Infrastructure portfolio. George has been given the Justice portfolio.
This was the prime minister’s third major reshuffle, though since 2010 there have been two other instances where there were Cabinet adjustments.
Griffith said the enemy was not those on either side of the political parliamentary bench, but the criminal elements who continue to deprive citizens of their rights to safety. Stressing that crime must not be politicised, he said the meetings with the Opposition were a step in the right direction.
“We must circle the wagon. It is good versus evil,” he said. Griffith, who spent 15 years in the military, said he had knowledge of policing and other arms of law enforcement.
Griffith, who resigned from the UNC just recently, declined to answer a question on his status with that party. (Express)