Activist Dr Merle Hodge greets Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley prior to the sitting. Photo courtesy Trinidad Guardian website.
Oh to be a fly on the wall of the PP camp this morning. There has been acrimony for weeks, visible on some of the Facebook groups, as soon as anyone in the Partnership, whether at the leadership or membership levels, appears to have broken ranks for doing simple things like voicing a different opinion.
Never a dull moment in this group…never a logical argument either…
Yesterday’s debate in the Lower House had several highlights.
First there was the crowd on the waterfront, some of them paid, some of them voluntary. Some there to ensure they still have a CEPEP job tomorrow. Others there as curious onlookers…and a growing crowd that’s concerned about our system of governance and willing to be present if only to show solidarity and let the PP know how fed up they are. Kamla got blocked and Rowley got hugged.
Then there was Kamla’s raising of the whip. I seriously think Sugar Aloes’ serenading of the PM to “She’s Royal” back in 2012 (?) may have gone to the lady’s head. You, the party of New Politics and Good Governance fame, haven’t been practicing voting by conscience all this time? Are we meant to swoon at your magnanimity? Kamla just too precious.
Thereafter, last night’s session ran like a T-20 game: spurts and lulls, with some collapses in between.
Kamla accused the PNM of being hypocrites. Their party’s constitution promotes run-off elections, she said, waving a Balisier constitution; so, why were they against run-offs for the national election? Oh, Kamsie…tricks are for kids!
1. This country at no point in time expressed dissatisfaction with how it votes. It has expressed dissatisfaction with how MPs and Executives rule…that’s where we want reform, so that we can have true separation of powers!
2. You really think a provision in a PARTY’s constitution should be applied to a COUNTRY? Last I checked, the PNM’s membership is 80,000 and the population is 1.3m. If Dr Hodge was grading your argument for coherence, parallelism and relevance would be in the margins!
But Rowley was no slouch, he came out swinging sixes everywhere. He easily scored the fastest century of the evening.
Wat to know how it is possible to Chair a Committee and then forget everything said in its report? Ask Prakash Ramadhar.
Then came the PP’s other opener, Prakash Ramadhar, who showed plainly that not only was he devoid of conscience, he also didn’t read his own Constitutional Reform report. Which led to many debaters on the Opposition side thereafter calling him out on his blatant untruths as regards the report. Chief amongst his untruths was his insistence that the Addendum was originally there.
Ramadhar also attempted a feat of mental gymnastics that would have left even Suriya Bonaly awestruck; and that’s saying something. Ramadhar attempted to show a relationship between Proportional Representation, Run Off Ballot (ROB) and Participatory democracy. He left me wondering how many pulls in room 201, and how many sex workers are needed to create the mindset to fake up such a theory. Anil boy, you was robbed!
The first pleasant surprise of the afternoon for me came from Marlene MacDonald, as third batswoman down on the order Marlene kicked some serious ass. Whereas others might have picked the overall bill to discuss or repeat Proportional Representation as subject, verb and predicate in a sentence; Macdonald choose to dissect the bill. It was the most forensic presentation of the sitting. Clause after clause after clause dissected and discarded, causing one FB friend of mine to comment grimly, “She’s a Woman with a Clause”. Marlene, normally I take a drinks break during your presentations, but yesterday you forced me to sit up and take notice.
Is my logic smelling bad so?
Somewhere after MacDonald we had the AG. What to say about && without receiving a slew of pre-actions in my protocol, boy? I think Fenton Ramsahoye is a brilliant AG….I also think that his paralegal, &&, needs more practice and to work harder. He spends far too much time on Orc mischief in the Parliament than on meaningful debate.
Some highlights of his less than sterling innings: && kept talking about the prevalence of the use of the ROB system in countries like France, but neglected to mention that ROB is used in the case of determining executive Presidents, not for every MP under them, and that the countries he was citing, operated under entirely different political systems. ROB is yet to be used anywhere in the Commonwealth.
With respect to the right of recall for MPs, Mr && Tricksy Orcses insisted that Williams, in demanding unsigned letters of resignation from his Cabinet, had implemented his own right of recall.
And here is how he is being less than honest with us. No Prime Minister can fire an MP. If the MP pulls a Herbie Volney and switches parties mid-term, that can trigger a by-election, which must involve the electorate. In short, an MP can only be fired by the electorate.
At the same time, no electorate can fire a Minister. All ministers are appointed by the PM. The Bill Amendment doesn’t give us recall of Ministers, only MPs. Williams, fired Ministers…not MPs. But you see, && relies on speaking untruths very fast; so by the time you decipher what he’s said, 15 other “facts” also have to be verified.
For several hours thereafter viewers and listeners would have plodded through unremarkable presentations from both Govt and Opposition. Some presentations were too unfocused and wide ranging, or the style of delivery incredibly lax (eyes on you Deyalsingh, Hospedales and Jeffreys….tighten up!) Whilst others were irrelevant beyond belief. The debate, dear Suruj and Moony, wasn’t about PR…because there is no amendment for Proportional Representation in the Bill. In fact, it appears as if the UNC has all but abandoned PR now as it jumps on the ROB bandwagon.
They feel they know what I coming with…
Then, at around 9:30 pm, came the shitstorm. The minute Dookeran invoked the names of Tajmool Hosein and Ellis Clarke, I sat up. One does not simply invoke Tajmool’s name. Eh eh…not just so. Hosein was present at the Marlborough House convention. Hosein shaped the earliest reforms of our Constitution. When men get up and invoke Tajmool Hosein name, be prepared for fireworks….and boy, did Dookeran deliver. In a 45-minute speech peppered with phrases like “cat-in-bag” and “dangerous” , Dookeran, visibly worked up, rejected the Bill outright, pointing out its potential to destroy the COP, and create more ethnic tensions. My gob was smacked. My ghost was flabbered. The same man who brought us Hafizool Mohammed and atrocious international diplomacy at our embassies capable of this? Listen…Dooks need to come with a label: “Flammable when pushed to the edge!”
The last contribution I heard came on at 12:30 am. And it was worth staying up that late just to hear Colm Imbert, well-researched and ascerbic as ever, call Prakash Ramadhar a Judas Horse.
Honestly, who needs Chick Mansion when there is Parliament Channel?
Protesters held vigil at the Waterfront, well into the wee hours of the morning.
The one flaw to the entire debate was the break down of FM radio signal for the Parliament station. I can’t point any fingers, because I’ve no idea if the problem stemmed from Parliament or Cumberland Hill. What I will say is this, the last four years have seen more and more citizens accessing Parliament Channel. If this government has done nothing else, it has made the population more watchful and cautious about the goings-on in Parliament and our Constitution. I expect that that traffic on the website will continue to increase and for folks without internet access, the FM station becomes even more crucial. Keep up the good work, Parliament channel, and take the necessary measures to safeguard this service for us.
And, on a closing note, I want to raise this observation. Proportional Representation was raised often last evening, notably on the side of the Government. MP after MP from the COP and the UNC mouthed the words. They want to bring Propertional Representation to the country, to the electorate etc etc…Has anyone noticed that neither of these parties use Proportional Representation for their internal elections?
The PNM internally implemented One Man One Vote, which fits in better with a First Part the Post System that they advocate at the national level. Yet both the UNC and the COP want PR, and won’t implement at the micro level, so that we can see how it will work for us at the macro level. Isn’t that weird? That they won’t practise first what they are attempting to foist on the community?
The debate moves to the Senate next Tuesday, and there will be a week-long vigil at the Waterfront every evening from around 4pm. A sort of #OccupyDWaterfront Movement as it were. Stop by, lend support, discuss the constitution, watch the ferry come in.
De Vice Cyah Done!