PORT OF SPAIN –– The Order Of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (ORTT) has been sold. It was purchased today for US$25,000.
As of this morning there had been ten bids for the 18-carat gold medal with the highest bid being US$31,300. The ORTT, awarded to labour hero Adrian Cola Rienzi posthumously in 2012, went for sale on international e-commerce website eBay on Monday with a seven-day period for auctioning.
Today, Minister of Labour Jennifer Baptiste-Primus said the decision by the ANSA McAL Group of Companies to attempt to purchase the ORTT was commendable and that the chairman of the company, Norman Sabga, was setting a standard.
On Tuesday, Sabga announced the company’s intention to purchase the medal for the National Museum. The award was presented to labour hero Adrian Cola Rienzi posthumously in 2012 by the Kamla Persad-Bissessar-led government.
President Anthony Carmona, Persad-Bissessar and the heads of the unions Rienzi once led all said they felt the award should be returned to Trinidad and Tobago. Some suggested that government purchase the award for the citizens.
Baptiste-Primus told the Express: “I commend him [Sabga] as a caring citizen so that if someone from the private sector is the process of doing that [bidding for the award], how does it become a government responsibility? We have to encourage that kind of nationalism because that is a very strong message that Mr Sabga is sending.
“He is really setting a standard for other citizens of this country to follow that sense of nationalism, that sense of pride. We have to encourage him and if he is already in the process of doing that, then we should allow that process to complete itself.”
Up to this morning, there were ten bids for the medal with the highest bid being US$31,300. The starting price for the bidding was US$25,000.
The following is a Press release that was published after the sale:
“The ANSA McAL Group has acquired the Order Of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (ORTT) medal which was being sold on eBay.
“Group chairman and chief executive of the ANSA McAL Group, Mr A. Norman Sabga, LLD (Hon.) UWI, made the following announcement this afternoon:
“‘Despite the incidence of higher bids on the eBay site, ANSA McAL secured the agreement of the store, Crawford Coin Stamp Militaria in Vancouver, British Colombia, to pull down the auction and recognize our initial bid. This move has ensured that the historic piece will be duly returned to our nation in preservation of its bestowed honour and dignity’.
“Mr Sabga added: ‘I am filled with pride and joy that we were able to ensure that this cherished national award will soon be on its way back to Trinidad and Tobago. There are many moments in my life when I have felt we have done something really worthwhile, but nothing can outmatch this by the sheer significance of its national patrimonial value and meaning’.
“ANSA McAL had met the minimum bid requirement of US$25,000.00.
“The executive chairman of the ANSA McAL Group of Companies, provided a background on how events unfolded: ‘We came to an agreement with the owner of the store, that given the historic significance of the medal, and in consideration of ANSA McAL’s noble intention to reclaim the award on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago, all other bids would be closed’.
“Efforts will now be made to respectfully seek the support of the Office of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to facilitate the donation of the medal to the National Museum.”
The ORTT was posthumously awarded to union leader Adrian Cola Rienzi. The 18-carat gold medal, packaged with the original award document, is signed by the former president of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency, George Maxwell Richards and stamped with the presidential seal.
Adrian Cola Rienzi (born Krishna Deonarine in 1905) founded both the Oilfield Workers Trade Union and the All Trinidad Sugar Estates and Factory Workers Union. He was also involved in the establishment of three other trade unions and became the first president of the Trinidad and Tobago Trades Union Council from its inception in 1938 until 1944.