Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 14th 2014 Contents A35
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Some laws are created to
delay, subvert and deny
justice. The EMA Act was
designed to protect the health
and environment of the Repub-
lic. Governments use it to bless
and give a clean bill of health
to some projects which destroy
public health and the ecology.
In instances where the EMA
can act to protect, it throws up
its paws in despair and pulls
out its own bulldog teeth. It is
a nuisance, often, to small pol-
luters; and allows big polluters
to go free. It complicates and
harasses the paths of the small
polluters, but gives blighs, easy
passage, to large polluting state
projects. This often happens in
the drugs trade, or in the mar-
kets at Customs and Excise or
in financial audits at the Finan-
The proposed amendment to
recall non-performing or delin-
quent ministers would, in the
hands of pernicious govern-
ment, make it more difficult to
recall or fire an errant minister
Currently, no such legislation
exists. Yet, how many Warners,
Partaps and Roberts have been
excised from Government. They
have been dismissed, not vol-
untarily, but by the irrepressible
pursuits of a diligent media, the
protest, the public outcry.
The proposed legislation
would make recall an onerous,
difficult, complex, time-eating,
mind boggling electoral pursuit.
Instead of firing high and dry,
as we have seen in recent
instances, the Prime Minister,
protecting her minister, could
call: "Go to the law. Do a
recall." By the time this process
is finished, decomplicated, exe-
cuted, in the fourth or fifth
year, its time to have a new
The proposed runoff amend-
ment unnecessarily complicates
the electoral pursuit. Runoffs
are good for single-party inter-
nal elections, for single posts,
not where political parties offer
divergent ideologies and prac-
tices. It thrives where there is
homogeneity of prejudices, not
where there is heterogeneity. In
fact it threatens divergent and
heterogeneous political conduct.
It supports the monolithic, not
the diverse and cosmopolitan.
Big parties prosper, not small
ones, not the common voter.
It also has the potential to
bring in the Electoral Commis-
sion, the Judiciary, the state
security apparatus into the fray
of bureaucracy. It is a compli-
cated, confusing, time-wasting
gesture which adds little to the
improvement of our electoral,
much less, constitutional sys-
Term limits is yet another
smoke and mirrors gesture. It
adds little to the electoral sys-
tem. Or to the Constitution.
God forbid that a visionary
leader, ready and willing and
able to lead the revolution that
we need to transform public life
in the republic, should assume
political office. One who wins
the general acclaim and is get-
ting the job done. She might
need a very long time to clean
up this republic.
Additionally, term limits do
not tackle the more serious
problem; it is the ideology, the
party in power, exercising
monolithic rule over the gener-
ations, which is the problem,
not the individual. Some argue
that both monolithic parties are
one, sharing the same basic
The proposed amendments
add little joy or substance to
our electoral or constitutional
life. They were devised to give
the impression that something
has been done, an election
promise fulfilled. It is an
unnecessary tampering and
complication of our electoral
system. An unnecessary tam-
pering with our souls.
It smoothens out and hides
the real problem: the people are
dissed by their political parties
over and over again and give
them no succour, comfort,
peace of mind. We have been
moving from outrage to out-
rage, party to party, since 1970.
No peace in the party or politi-
We are a cosmopolitan coun-
try; the amendments deny this
attribute and try to force us
back into the fascistic, mono-
lithic and authoritarian. We
need a broadening, widening,
facilitating cosmopolitan consti-
tution; one which gives oppor-
tunity and freedom, which
enables the party, the people,
the Government, the State, not
one that chains them up in the
The Government is in power be-
cause of the help of third, fourth and
fifth parties. In fact, each time the UNC
got into power it was with the assis-
tance of a third party.
So why would they seek to imple-
ment a measure to exterminate these
parties? On the other hand, the PNM
benefits whenever a third party splits
the votes and in fact they can be
formed and financed to do just that.
If we look further than the next gen-
eral election we may see a so-called
third party relegating one of the major
parties into that same category, if they
were to have the correct social conver-
sation with the population, along with
This runoff bill may seem like a dag-
ger in the heart of some, but it also
commands political parties to win a
seat on merit.
These are exciting political times
and those opposed should show why,
because both the PNM and the UNC
need the third party, albeit for reasons
The argument that it is not demo-
cratic that a party which did not win
can remain in office during the 15-day
period of the runoff is feeble, as in 18-
18 the then appointee remained in of-
fice for an entire year without ac-
counting to a Parliament, cementing
themselves with taxpayers' money as
it suited them before calling the elec-
tion, the results of which were a for-
If that was not the greatest subver-
sion of our democracy yet seen then
those opposed should tell me.
A proposal should be made in the
constitution to deal with any deadlock,
20-20-1 perhaps, in the future where
no one budges, as this can happen
some day to come.
The restricted two-term limit for a
prime minister is debatable as it takes
away from the franchise of the voter,
while the recall may be harsh and un-
fair, as even a minister does not have
full control in his ministry, far less an
ordinary MP, who has to beseech oth-
ers to help him service his con-
Democracy is greater than the win,
was the words expressed by Prime
Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on
this historic motion to bring constitu-
tional reform to the people of T&T.
Never before have the people been so
empowered and the mantra of "serve
the people" has once again become a
work in motion.
As with most things in life, it is diffi-
cult for two sets of people to agree on
the same thing and as expected this
same behavior recurred in parliamen-
tary debate. The opposition made an
embarrassing attempt to represent
their members once again and even re-
verted to trivial name-calling. With this
type of politics how do we as a people
expect to move forward as a nation?
To demonstrate the strong leader
that she is, the Prime Minister gave
the members of her government the
opportunity to exercise a conscience
vote to further demonstrate what
democracy is about.
The PNM has never heard about
this type of democracy before and I ap-
plaud the steps taken.
I am now a bit relieved to have learnt
that some parliamentarians have con-
sciences, in reference to the vote taken
in Parliament last Tuesday morning
when they voted on the Constitution
Indeed I now hope that others follow
and apply to other pressing matters in
decision-making of government.
Please surprise me, as I will be wait-
ing to see with bated breath.
A demonstration of democracy
Exciting political times
On parliamentarians and consciences
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