Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 8th 2013 Contents A7
September 8, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
After a marathon 17-hour sit-
ting in Parliament, the Opposi-
tion yesterday voted against the
Municipal Corporation (Amend-
ment) Bill 2013.
The PNM voted 13 against, with
22 going in favour of the Govern-
The bill which intends to amend
the Municipal Corporation Act
1990, in a bid to introduce a sys-
tem of proportional representation
for the election of aldermen will
be debated in Senate on Tuesday.
Chaguanas West MP Jack
Warner and St Joseph MP Herbert
Volney were absent when the
Lower House cast their votes
around 3 am.
Both MPs were seen earlier in
In delivering his contribution,
Education Minister Dr Tim
Gopeesingh told the Opposition
that they had no moral authority
to talk about proportional repre-
sentation and accused them of
postponing local government elec-
tions four times, between 2006
and 2009, under the pretext that
they were seeking local govern-
"The first time the PNM spoke
about the reform was in 2002.
They produced a Green Paper in
2004 and a White Paper in 2006."
Gopeesingh said the PNM also
postponed the election three times
from 1962 to 1968, which was
He said former prime minister
Patrick Manning had sought the
advice of a Jamaican consultant
on reform during his tenure.
The consultant, who
Gopeesingh named as Hamilton,
was supposed to write a report
before local government election,
which taxpayers had paid for.
Gopeesingh said to this date,
the country had not seen the
report, even though they had
requested it several times.
"So you robbed citizens of this
country from their democratic
right. Postponement is in the
PNM s DNA, and today you are
asking us about our reform."
Arguing that proportional rep-
resentation was the future of
world politics, Gopeesingh lauded
the PP Government for taking the
first step of bringing the issue to
Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-
Scoon has accused the Government
of putting the cart before the horse
by bringing to Parliament the Munic-
ipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill
She said the debate on proportional
representation should have first gone
to the people and not the Parliament.
Gopee-Scoon said the folly of the
bill was the fact the member of the
House failed to understand the formula
of which the aldermen are to be elect-
"The members are not united on
that. Earlier there was general dis-
The faces of the Government MPs,
Gopee-Scoon said, looked perplexed.
Gopee-Scoon said while members
spoke about the public being ready for
change with the new paradigm, the
people were not consulted.
Gopee-Scoon said there was a dark
and sinister side to proportional rep-
She said while the Government con-
tinue to boast about their achieve-
ments, they were "exceptionally dam-
aging to the country and population."
Gopee-Scoon said the bill was an
insult to their intelligence and against
"Yes, I am voting against it. I am
telling you that from now. I don t mind
the disrespect here. The disrespect
that I am concerned about is the dis-
respect for the population." (SH)
The People s Partnership Govern-
ment never spoke of proportional rep-
resentation in its manifesto or any-
Laventille West MP Nileung Hypolite
said so on Friday during his presentation
in the Parliament on the Municipal
Corporations (Amendment) Bill, 2013.
Hypolite, "This bill before us today
should not be here today."
He said the People s National Move-
ment (PNM) believes in local govern-
"In fact, we believe that the local
government system needs to be mod-
ernised, and in 2009 under the then
minister of local government, Mrs Hazel
Manning, we laid in the Parliament the
Draft Local Government Bill, and in
that document we had a number of
reasons why we needed to modernise
and have local government transfor-
mation take place," Hypolite said.
He said the PP came into office in
2010 with the promise of constitutional
reform and local government reform
but there was absolutely no mention
of proportional representation.
He said, "I looked at their manifesto
and in it has absolutely nothing about
proportional representation under local
"I looked at their 120 day of imme-
diate action plan and it has absolutely
nothing about proportional represen-
Hypolite refuted claims by St Augus-
tine MP Prakash Ramadhar that the
PNM did not want reform to take place.
He said he was trying to understand
the formula used to determine the
number of aldermen in a corporation.
Hypolite said there was 175 polling
divisions in the San Juan/Laventille
area with an electorate of 133,521. He
said the proposed number of electoral
districts was 13.
"I am trying to understand the for-
mula...how they will arrive with four
"Point Fortin-16,244, San
madame deputy speaker?
"I will expect that Point Fortin may
have gotten four and San Juan/Laven-
tille might have gotten 40." (RKR)
RHONDA KRYSTAL RAMBALLY
Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner
says it is time the power of the peo-
ple supersedes the power of the
"Well if is so, why yuh want to
throw out Volney (Herbert) for?
"The power of the people has him
"But the whole thing is to throw
him out so anybody who even
attempt to come across to ILP...you
will understand you in trouble...walk
Warner, interim political leader of
the Independent Liberal Party (ILP)
was making his contribution to the
Municipal Corporations (Amend-
ment) Bill, 2013 in the Parliament
Next to him on the Opposition
bench was St Joseph MP Herbert
Volney wore a green tie while
Warner said he intended to wear
black for the next few days since the
country was in mourning over the
Warner said, "The member for
Tabaquite spoke about participatory
democracy and I want to say here
very early that was merely used here
for purposes of convenience.
"Nothing that particular member
in his other dispensation, nothing
he has done in my humble view has
demonstrated participatory democ-
"Nothing this Government has
done in the last two months in par-
ticular and particularly in Chaguanas
West has demonstrated participatory
Warner said it was unfair to go to
bed one night and awake the next
morning to learn that the Govern-
ment had decided to change the laws
of the land.
He said the rushed approach was
what has embarrassed the Govern-
ment since it was in office.
He said it was the "rush approach"
that caused the Reshmi Ramnarine
fiasco, the Soldier bill and giving
"These things failed and though
they failed, the Government has not
learned its lesson."
Warner said "some of those guys"
who have been made senators will
be sworn in on Tuesday morning
and would be expected to sit and
discuss a bill they had never seen
but which they have to vote on.
"And that is participatory democ-
racy. When will they get time to
study the bill?" Warner asked.
need to modernise
'It's disrespect for
Jack: It's time for people power
...as bill on proportional representation passed in Lower House
Former local government minister Suruj Rambachan makes his contribution to the debate in Parliament on
Friday. Next to him is Community Development Minister Winston Peters (partly hidden) and Education
Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh. PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
ILP leader Jack Warner makes his
maiden contribution in the House of
Representatives on Friday, since
being re-elected as the Chaguanas
West MP. PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
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