Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 20th 2014 Contents A5
Monday, January 20, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The Constitution Commission says
consideration should be given to alter-
ing the procedure of the Integrity
Commission to provide for citizens to
"swear to an undertaking that they
would provide declarations" if they
were the subject of an investigation.
This proposal is contained in the 47-
page Constitution Commission Report,
which is expected to be discussed in
Cabinet this week.
The report said allowing citizens to
swear "would enhance the capacity of
the Integrity Commission to function
more effectively by changing its focus
from chasing down hundreds of dec-
larations to examining only those that
The report said the existing procedure
had become "cumbersome and ineffi-
cient and has prevented many persons
from coming forward to serve."
It noted that many people in public
life were reluctant to come forward to
serve "because of their concern about
the process of mandatory filing of their
assets and liabilities with the Integrity
And the Constitution Commission
said: "The impression has been created
that the Integrity Commission has
become an institution that is required
to conduct investigations at the behest
of politicians who may be seeking to
embarrass other politicians who hold
offices in public."
It noted the last three chairmen of
the Integrity Commission---John Martin,
Fr Henry Charles and Dr Eric St Cyr---
resigned due to controversies associated
with their tenure.
The report said consequently "this
has strained the moral authority of the
commission (Integrity) to assert itself
as the moral police of the society."
The report further stated that non-
compliance with the Integrity in Public
Life Act should be met with sanctions
for the offending parties and the obli-
gation to make declarations "should be
The report also proposes a fixed date
for general election and the recall of
MPs. It was recommended that MPs
be recalled "after the expiration of three
years and not in the fifth year."
It further said the right of recall
should be restricted only to those con-
stituents who voted in the election in
that constituency and the petition for
recall should attain the requirement of
two-thirds of the voters for it to be
effected. It also recommended a two-
term limit for a prime minister.
Another major change being proposed
relates to the method of appointment
for the Senate President.
"The President should designate the
President of the Senate from among
those senators appointed by the Pres-
ident in his own discretion," the report
recommended. Under the existing con-
stitutional arrangements, the President
of the Senate is elected by senators at
the first meeting after a general election.
This is done before any other business.
The report also said the relationship
between the Office of the Attorney Gen-
eral and the Director of Public Prose-
cutions (DPP) "ought to be reviewed to
ensure the independence of the latter."
It added the review was necessary
because of previous controversies
between the two offices. The Consti-
tution Commission recommended that
the DPP "should be awarded an inde-
pendent fiscal vote which would be
audited by the Auditor General, whose
report would be laid in Parliament."
Another recommendation is for the
office of the DPP to "report to the Pres-
ident annually on his performance
which shall include statistics as may
It said the DPP s report should be
laid in Parliament.
The Constitution Commission was
chaired by Legal Affairs Minister Prakash
Ramadhar and the report was completed
on December 27, 2013 after public and
private consultations with stakehold-
When nine Princes Town teens set off for a
Saturday afternoon adventure at nearby river
little did they know that only eight of them would
Daniel Wharwood, a 15-year-old form one stu-
dent of Moruga Composite School, drowned in
the river at Maingot Road, St Julien, while his
friends watched helplessly from the riverbank.
Yesterday, his distraught mother Sherry-ann
Wharwood said she could not believe her ears
when she was told her son had drowned on Sat-
She said Daniel left their home at Indian Walk,
Moruga, on Saturday morning to visit his father
Lincoln Lawrence, who lived a short distance away.
The grieving mother said the last time she saw
her son was when he rode off on his bicycle that
Police reports said Daniel was riding his bicycle
along Cragnish Flats, Taskar Road, Princes Town,
with his friends, when they stopped by a bridge
to have snacks and Daniel jumped into the river
Joel Sampson, Daniel s uncle, said his nephew
could not swim and was inexperienced.
Cpl Janki is continuing investigations.
Dhano Sookoo, who served
as president of the Agricultural
Society of T&T (ASTT) for the
last six years has no regrets
about her controversial tenure
and argues that she left the
association in a far better situ-
ation than she found it.
"When I joined the society
there were 236 members, today
the society has over 10,000
members. At an AGM there used
to be 25 persons voting by show-
ing their hands, today you have
voting by ballot of thousands of
people. In the 2013 election I
won that election by 1,500 votes.
When I joined the society years
ago there were years of unan-
swered audit queries. I then took
a personal responsibility to bring
everything up-to-date and it
was sent to the Auditor General,"
she told the media.
The 175th Annual General
Meeting (AGM) was held yes-
terday at the Centre of Excel-
lence, Macoya, and an election
was held for a new board and
Up to last night, Nawaz
Karim, who is the "partner" of
Sookoo s daughter, was leading
with more than 150 votes com-
pared to the other slate which
had more than 40 votes.
There was a heavy police
presence monitoring the voting
Sookoo s tenure as president
had been marred by controversy,
with the current Food Produc-
tion Minister Devant Maharaj
calling on National Security
Minister Gary Griffith to expe-
dite the investigation into alleged
financial impropriety against
She had responded last year
by telling Maharaj to stay of out
of the business of the ASTT.
At the election Sookoo said
she was proud of how the elec-
tion was carried out this year.
Natasha Hosein, senior legal
adviser, Ministry of Food Pro-
duction who was present at the
AGM as an observer, called the
"I am seeing a lot of discrep-
ancies in the election process.
The secretary, who is not a
member of the board, has a lot
of power to declare it null and
void. She is the relevant officer
now as the board was dissolved.
There are persons in here who
are canvassing, taking member s
ballot sheets, ticking off mem-
bers. The act governing the asso-
ciation is just an old piece of
legislation," she said.
Hosein was critical of the
motion passed to have the finan-
cial report mailed to members
after the AGM and not read out
to members during it.
"The practice has always been
that the financial report be read.
The members need to know
what the reports are saying in
order to determine for them how
they would vote. There has been
a lot of problems with these
elections for the past five or six
years," she said.
in river tragedy
'Chaos' at agri
Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips,
Constitution Commission Report recommends
No declarations until
Integrity probes begin
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