Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 17th 2014 Contents A7
August 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
my shoe (chuckles), which really
does not matter: what shoe I wear
and when I wear it; my hairstyle,
whether it is long or short...it really
does not matter.
What s the reason for these, as
you say, personal attacks?
Maybe it is because I am a
female prime minister. Nobody
would find out what suit a prime
minister wears, which shoes he
was wearing, if that person is a
male prime minister...which really
is not important.
And they have now become the
topic of public discussion and
debate...but only from some quar-
ters. There are so many right-
thinking people who do not engage
in that kind of non-productive
Do you see a gender bias here?
Well, there are some who are
very gender-biased...our society
has always been a very male-dom-
inated society, and in fact, do you
remember, when I was running
for the office as prime minister,
there was a group saying a woman
should never become a prime min-
So those persons still, I am sure,
have that kind of view, and there
are others just cannot believe that
a woman as a leader, even though
the majority of persons voted that
I should become PM.
And as I said, this so-called ava-
lanche only comes from certain
quarters...certain quarters, certain
Care to identify "certain quar-
Well, of course the Opposition
and it is in the nature of their job
to oppose everything that we do,
and that is the case, so to say that
I am surprised by this, no. They
want to ensure that we do not
achieve anything positive to devel-
op T&T...we get nothing done,
therefore proposals have been put
forward, for example, every project
that we have tried to do, every
piece of legislation taken to Par-
liament, especially those requiring
a special majority, are being
And this exercise which is major
constitutional reform, really, to
make for better governance,
reforming the electoral process
after 40 years, what was good then
cannot still be good today.
So that criticism and that protest
coming from the Opposition is not
surprising nor unexpected.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar, one of
your detractors has said that the
proposed constitutional reform
now before the Parliament is
designed to choke the people out
of their freedom and democratic
Nothing could be further from
the truth and I think that those
naysayers are ranting and raving
in that regard without any basis
First of all, your freedom to vote
your candidate of choice is defi-
nitely within our proposals.
Because you will have a first ballot
where all the ballots go up so you
chose and if your candidate is the
best one, well, so be it.
This only arises where you do
not have a majority, so it is not in
every constituency we will have a
runoff election, it is only in those
constituencies where the first ballot
does not produce a clear winner,
above 50 per cent of the vote.
So let us disabuse our mind:
there would not be 41 runoffs.
So how are we choking freedom
and how these elections would be
The Opposition is claiming
they were ambushed by these
We have been seeking electoral
reform since 2010, in our manifesto
we indicated these were our pro-
posals, that we would be bringing
legislation, we set up a constitution
reform commission, and they have
been meeting, holding talks. So I
cannot see how you can be
ambushed by this legislation.
Is it a fact, Madam PM, that
only two members of the Oppo-
sition bothered to attend these
That is a fact, and that goes too
for a lot of the people who are now
ranting and raving, they never
attend the conversations and they
now want to have consultations.
When for over a year consultations
were taking place they did not
The Opposition members (Mrs
Penelope Beckles-Robinson and
Dr Amery Brown) attend in their
personal capacity and I do not
believe they were representing the
views of their party.
Isn t the PNM now saying the
runoff was not in the report of
From Page A6
the Ramadhar Commission?
This is not true. If you look at the
addendum of the report you would
see they would have had their discus-
sion and they all signed...
Why would they make that charge?
(Slightly furrowed brow) Again, it
is only some of the people who want
to make mischief. Coming back again
to the same suspects, mischief-makers,
and they would use every example
they can get to prevent this bill from
But why are they so afraid?
It is because the PNM has always
been a minority government they
always managed to rule the country
being a minority government. With
this proposed legislation we will have
a truly majority government so they
are afraid of majority government
which means the majority of the people
will be supporting that majority gov-
Look at it there is nothing reasonable
as to why they are so opposed to the
second ballot. They say this is choking,
this is dictatorial. How holding election
can be dictatorial? There is no dem-
ocratic country in the world where the
The PNM is accusing the PP
administration of trying to steal the
forthcoming general election alleging
that the ruling coalition knows it
would lose those polls?
(A hearty laugh); The Rowley PNM
because this is what it is now, the
Rowley PNM pattern of behaviour is
to make these blanket statements to
cause fear and panic but how do you
How would it steal an election, how
can this proposal steal an election?
Let s break it down logically. You have
a first ballot a candidate does not get
50 per cent of the vote what do you
do? You have a second ballot how is
that stealing an election. How?
You may steal an election, in inverted
commas, when it is you allow a minor-
ity man or woman to become MP for
the constituency. This runoff vote (the
second election) is a corollary of the
right of recall.
Given the nature of the criticism,
you get the impression these people
do not fully understand the provisions
of what is being proposed. Are you,
Madam Prime Minister, satisfied that
the government is doing a very good
job of selling these proposals to the
There is always room for improve-
ment to get your ideas off and the fact
that I slowed it down in the Senate
debate which means there is more time
for getting the information out there.
It is now for the Senators to decide.
But you are correct: there is room
for improvement, more public discus-
sions, more information.
On this recall matter what yard-
stick does the voter have to measure
to determine their MP is a failure and
that they should be removed from
There are two models of recall and
we have adopted one of those we think
will work in our situation.
Our model is this; any two people
can apply to the Elections and Bound-
aries Commission, [which] would be
taking care of this, so there can be no
gerrymandering, there is no undue
influences and so on.
You go to the EBC, you get a form,
you sign up and say, "Look, we want
a recall petition against MP X or Y."
Is there anywhere on that form
which states you have to give a reason
for recalling your MP?
No. And that s another thing; in
some countries reasons are given, in
other countries no reasons are required.
Isn t that against this thing called
natural justice? Where is the natural
But natural justice is there. If some-
body applies for a petition against
you---and in fact we have put in that
you have to be notified of a petition
against you---then you have to go out
there and plead your case. So that
you have the opportunity to defend
You have to get ten per cent of the
voting population to sign. When that
is signed you then have to get two-
thirds of the votes. If two thirds of the
voters do not want you, surely that is
enough reason for you not to be there.
There is also the claim from your
detractors who are saying that if gov-
ernment loses the election it could
stay in office for 15 days.
(Twiddling a pen in one hand) I
want to make it very clear that was
not the intention and in fact, to make
it abundantly clear, I moved an amend-
ment in the Lower House which says
where there is a clear result, meaning
21 seats and above, the President
appoints a prime minister immediately.
But where there is uncertainty, it is
only then we would have a runoff.
Mrs Persad-Bissessar, there have
been some strident, if not vitriolic
statements during this public debate
about the PP seeking political unrest
and political instability. Are you con-
cerned about these accusations?
(Another hearty laugh) Look, Clevon,
we passed the bill in the Lower House
Tuesday morning. I have been to var-
ious parts of Trinidad and I have not
seen one riot (laughs again), no unrest,
and the bill was passed.
You see, again it s a campaign of
panic and fear, a deliberate pattern,
and I have not seen any rational reason
why they should not support the bill.
PNM always a minority govt
It is because the PNM has
always been a minority
government they always
managed to rule the country
being a minority government.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Links Archive August 16th 2014 Remembering World Wars 1-2 Navigation Previous Page Next Page