PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Thursday April 28, 2016 – “If you don’t want, it don’t accept it, and if having accepted it you no longer want it or appreciate it, don’t sell it or condemn it, simply give it back.”
That was the clear message Trinidad and Tobago’s President Anthony Carmona sent out as the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (ORTT) medal – the country’s highest national honour –was returned to the twin-island republic, after being auctioned on eBay.
And he also suggested that a review to determine who holds the rights to national awards when recipients die, may be in order.
Carmona made the comments on Tuesday after the ANSA McAL Group returned the medal awarded posthumously to trade union leader Adrian Cola Rienzi, having purchased it for US$25,000 in the eBay auction last month.
Group Chairman and Chief Executive of the ANSA McAL Group A. Norman Sabga had personally collected the medal.
The Trinidad conglomerate was able to purchase the 18-carat medal, when its offer – the minimum bid and the lowest from all the bidders – was accepted. The company had explained at the time that the Canadian-based seller agreed that given the historic significance of the medal and that ANSA wanted to purchase it on behalf of the twin-island republic, the bidding would end.
“I am of the firm belief that once awarded, these symbols of nationalism and patriotic pride should stay within the family,” Carmona said.
“We could probably adopt the convention of the UK and Dutch systems: in the case of honours given while the recipients are still alive, they should be returned upon the recipients’ death.”
Carmona said these ultimate symbols of nationhood should be respected.
ANSA McAL has handed over the medal to the National Library Service.