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There is a process for national awards

Published: 
Friday, March 20, 2015
Forde disagrees with Persad:
Dr Ian Hypolite

Retired national athletics team manager and administrator Clyde Forde says there are procedures to follow before one can earn a national award and that “no one can tell a citizen that he or she is going to get a national award”.

Forde was responding to a recent Express article in which athletics coach Gunness Persad, asked for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to tell the country why World Champion Jehue Gordon’s T&T coach, Dr Ian Hypolite, was turned down the national award that former Minister of Sport Anil Roberts said he (Hypolite) would be recommended for.

Following Gordon’s success at the 2013 World Championships, where he won gold in the men’s 400m final, Roberts called a press conference where he said: “His (Gordon’s) local coach, Dr Ian Hypolite, has been recommended in next year’s (2014) award ceremony for the Chaconia Silver Medal and shall receive $200,000 this year for his contribution to coaching Jehue.”

Roberts was also quoted as saying that Gordon will receive the Chaconia Gold Medal as a reward, $800,000 and a mid-sized house from the Housing Development Corporation, to be approved by the Minister of Housing, among other gifts paid for by the state.

Gordon was announced as a Chaconia Gold Medal winner that same year. However, he has not yet received the medal. Meanwhile, a year after being told he was recommended for the award, Hypolite received a letter last August by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport advising that the award had been without, but without reason. Hypolite, however, received the monetary reward. Both Hypolite and more recently Persad have repeatedly asked for an explanation why the award was scrapped.

In a letter Forde wrote to the Guardian earlier this week, he said: “A national award is not given just like that. T&T is a democratic country and has to abide by the rules and laws laid down by law.

“No one can tell a citizen that he or she is going to get a national award. A person who is desirous of getting a national award first has to apply to the secretary for a national award form. You then have to get two or three prominent persons to fill out those forms and it is not an easy job.”

Forde, who received the Public Service Medal of Merit (silver) last year, then listed the requirements for an application, which indicates that the recommender “state specifically what achievements in your view qualify the nominee for a national award.”

According to Forde among the other requirements for a nomination to be considered, which were verified by a copy of a nomination form, the recommender must also state “for what length of time has the nominee been involved in the sphere of activity; How does the nominee’s achievements stand out from others in the field. To what extent has the nominee been influential in the sphere of activity.”

A nomination also requires a list of names of individuals who can attent to the contributions/achievements of the nominee, if applicable.

“Mr Persad, a committee considers the recommendations of hundreds of applicants, and then forwards its recommendations to the Prime Minister... If these guidelines are not followed, it means that every Minister can recommend an award to anyone he/she feels should get an award. Then you have no use for a national award committee,” Forde continued.

“Do you know if the president of the organization to which the person belongs got an (sic) recommendation?” Mr Persad, I believe you should have obtained all the necessary information before blaming the Hon Prime Minister and misleading the press and public. Remember, I am a member of the general council of the NAAA, the governing body for track and field in T&T.”

Forde chided Persad saying, “The Prime Minister does not owe you an explanation. You owe her an apology.”

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