Trinidad & Tobago: Questionable Résumés

Last week the Trinidad Guardian revealed that Hafizool Mohammed, who serves on the Commission of Inquiry into the 1990 attempted coup had many discrepancies on his résumé. His PhD in International Relations is from an unaccredited university; The American Military University, an on-line, for-profit institution where he supposedly earned a master's degree, has no record of him. Referees either don't exist or barely know of him. Sir Ellis Clarke, a former President of Trinidad and Tobago whom Mohammed listed as a reference, is dead.

It was eventually revealed that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Dookeran, had initially suggested that Mohammed serve on the Commission of Inquiry. Dookeran apparently first met Mohammed in 2010 when the latter offered his services to the country. Dookeran said that he submitted Mohammed's name to the Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, who then presented his name to Cabinet, which appointed him to the Commission.

For his part, Ramlogan said that since the recommendation came from an experienced Cabinet member like Dookeran and that Mohammed had provided certificates from all the institutions he attended, it never occurred to him that there could have been a problem. He announced that investigations into Mohammed's qualifications were taking place. Mohammed himself has taken a leave of absence from the Commission while the investigations are going on.

At The Eternal Pantomime, Rhoda Bharath wondered how many more questionable appointments have been made:

…neither Dookeran, Ramlogan, Persad-Bissessar nor the President (either Richards or Hamel-Smith) ever bothered to run a simple background check on Mohammed’s credentials. Or, maybe they were depending on the media and the citizenry to never ask or search and thereby get away with giving an unsuitable person a job he isn’t qualified for. It makes you wonder how many more unqualified hacks we have sitting in positions they have no qualifications for and will they too be unearthed.

Bharath felt this incident was just part of a larger pattern and referred to previous incidents to underscore her point – first, the controversial Reshmi Ramnarine appointment:

And you know the scary thing? This is typical, par for the course behaviour of the People’s Partnership. I remember John Sandy and Prakash Ramadhar in late 2010 heartily endorsing Reshmi Ramnarine’s appointment as SIA Director. When the Opposition did its job and opposed the appointment there was loud criticism…

Within days of Sandy and Ramadhar’s endorsement we would learn that Ramnarine’s CV was doctored. She had no degree from UWI, she was in fact grossly underqualified for her job. Ms Ramnarine resigned and now lives and works under a new identity.

Then, the Omar Khan appointment:

By June 2011, Omar Khan, who had been appointed as Chairman of T&TEC, was also under the microscope for doctored credentials. It appeared that Khan’s first degree in engineering from UWI and his MBA from the Arthur Lok Jack School were both false and he had acquired his engineering qualifications through a correspondence course. And in much the same way Khan wrote his way to an engineering degree; he wrote to tender his resignation, listing personal responsibilities as his reason.

Philip Edward Alexander thought the country may have been spared from the prospect of having Dookeran appointed to the Presidency:

Seriously, shame would strain to effectively cover this latest bungling fiasco, and the newest rounds of ‘iz not me, iz he’ being offered as defense by none other than Presidential-hopeful Winston Dookeran is really too much to bear. Admitting that it was he who recommended Dr Hafizool Mohammed to Cabinet as a potential member of the commission without checking his bona fides, he rejects the responsibility of the final appointment stating that at the end of the day the referral should have been checked by the Attorney General who made the final decision?

Alexander reiterated his call for the Attorney General to leave, or be removed from office:

With regard to the Attorney General, one is hard pressed to envision him continuing on in Office, especially when one looks back over his brief not quite three year career in the position; the missing piano found where it was supposed to be all along, the appointment of an unqualified junior clerk to head up the nation's highest security apparatus, the still unresolved Section 34 fiasco, the on again/off again extradition of Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, the questions surrounding his decision to not appeal the quashing of the extradition order have all collectively stunk up the place beyond what could be considered bearable, but this, this is more than a last straw or a final insult, this is a demonstration of incompetence for high Office and the Prime Minister cannot in good conscience believe that she has any choice here other than to request his resignation or fire him.

Wired868 suggested some ways for Mohammed to spruce up his résumé even more:

Mr Live Wire can only hope that the doctored coup chairman seizes this opportunity to leap to nationwide fame.

A good place to start for Mohammed would be a retort that he cannot comment on the Guardian’s allegations until he has read the newspaper article in hard copy, cross-checked the news ink’s authenticity and verified the journalist’s political membership.

Preferably, he would conduct this interview at the AG’s residence in between gulps of red bulls and vodka while twirling his car keys and wearing a tee-shirt that reads: ‘I see dead people… they provide the best references.’

Falcon from also called for Dookeran and Ramlogan to resign:

 Imagine you are such an idiot that you would employ a liar to administrate a commission of truth and not care. (wait a minute…that's how they operate always)
Imagine you are charged with vetting someone's qualifications and a simple Photoshop imaginary certificate is ‘good enough’ for you, and you dont (sic) check with the Uni or request an official transcript
Imagine you so shameless you will try to say that Dookeran vetted the man so you didnt have to 
If Anand doesn't resign (he wont) (sic), then Dooks should resign and call for Anand to follow him
If you cant trust your AG, then all is lost

User Amelia responded to a question asking whether employers vet the claims made on résumés:

They do.
I've worked for the public and private enterprises and bec (sic) of the nature of the position, there were ppl checking up to see that I lived where I said I lived. Someone actually came around 7pm to verify my address. They spoke to my neighbours and even the man who own (sic) the parlour down the road. They called every single previous employer. I had to get transcripts from universities. By the time they called me for the interview is because I received calls from a dozen ppl asking me what i do bec ppl come round asking bout (sic) me and my family.

I dont (sic) for a second believe this was an honest mistake of someone getting through cracks in the system. There is already a system in place so there's already manpower to do the check ups.

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