National Transformation Alliance (NTA) political leader Gary Griffith has condemned the action of former Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira and former Senate President, Timothy Hamel-Smith for their behaviour at the State funeral of Basdeo Panday on Tuesday.
The two politicians jumped a railing at the SAPA venue, although both were not invited to attend the proceedings.
Griffith, in a social media post labelled ‘State funeral- about protocols, class and stormers’ said: “One surely cannot expect to ask the nation to allow you the opportunity to lead and serve a country, when you act in such an irresponsible manner as jumping over railings to enter a State event when you were not invited.”
Griffith also claimed the organisers of the funeral disrespected Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar by not recognising her presence in the programmes for the service.
“It speaks even more about the lack of professionalism of those in the state, who decided to make such a decision.”
The Prime Minister and Persad-Bissessar attended, but neither was invited to pay tribute to Panday.
Dr Rowley was recognised on the programme, but Persad-Bissessar was not.
Griffith noted that during his tenure as Minister of National Security, he was tasked with coordinating the State Funeral of His Excellency ANR Robinson, which lasted 5 days and took place in both island.
He said it proved to be a logistical nightmare, so one may have expected no issues in the organising of Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday’s State Funeral, which only took place in Trinidad.
Griffith added: “Because I did, I am well aware of the protocols for invitations, knowing that those invited are approved between the State and/or the family of the deceased.
Over the last few days, I have noted with interest the vast number of persons clamouring and being interviewed by the media, with all making claims of being very close to Prime Minister Panday.
Apart from his immediate family, these claims by politicians and friends combined, would not amount to the interaction I had with him during his last few years as Prime Minister. But I sat back and said nothing.”
He said those in authority have the right to invite or not invite anyone of their choosing, regardless of how close that person was to Basdeo Panday.
“So to answer those who are asking why I did not attend the funeral; the answer is simple. I was not invited. I did get an opportunity to pay my respects however, as I attended the wake and also signed the condolence book along with the NTA Executive and other members of the NTA party. But what I would not do however, is go where I am not invited, which is why I had no intention of jumping over railings, as those days for me were decades ago when I was a teenager ‘storming’ house parties.”
Griffith said: “One surely cannot expect to ask the nation to allow you the opportunity to lead and serve a country, when you act in such an irresponsible manner as jumping over railings to enter a State event when you were not invited. There is simply nothing that justifies these actions, especially from those who should know better. This demonstration of lawlessness sets a bad example for all and it reinforces the mindset that informs criminal activity and school violence, which is ‘might is right’.”
“Even more disappointing was the statement by the ‘stormers’ who breached security and were caught on camera climbing over a railing, saying that law enforcement told them that the only way to get in (to do the wrong thing) was to jump over the railing.”
Griffith further commented on the drafted the Order of Service and whoever saw it appropriate to politicize it via sidelining those not aligned to the government, or those who may be aligned to the opposition to ensure the defeat of the outgoing Government.
“When I coordinated the State Funeral of ANR Robinson, I ensured that I was not blinded by politics and hence drafted the Order of Service, to include the Leader of the Opposition to be a part of the proceedings by having him, Keith Rowley, speak at the Service.
So to see the present Leader of the Opposition not being recognised in any manner, not even her time of arrival, says so much about us as a nation. And it speaks even more about the lack of professionalism of those in the state, who decided to make such a decision.”
Griffith said it is all about protocol and class, and it is clear some have it and some don’t.