Trinidad and Tobago: UNC leader Kamla Persad condemned the current government of Trinidad and Tobago.
Tonight I want to speak about something that I believe is the highjacking something that is wrong and illegal by this government with respect to their pronouncements about what they want to do with the Tobago House of Assembly elections. She added, “I will fight for your rights. I will fight for you.”
You see, when you come to interfere with democratic institutions, the institutions that uphold the rule of law, then the very foundations of your society are being shaken.
The announcement by the Prime Minister of the THA Amendment Bill – laying this Bill in the Parliament and saying it will be debated this week – there has been no consultation with the THA representatives in Tobago, except for the PNM representatives. There has been no consultation with the people of Tobago.
This is a plan to subvert the democratic will of the people of Tobago. It is not simply about breaking a tie. The PNM has always used the institutions of our nation to subvert democracy.
This is an obscene grab for power by the Rowley PNM. They got such a licking in Tobago that they want to punish the people of Tobago by coming to the Parliament to change the law. They are saying it is for a simple majority, but they are very wrong.
The Prime Minister said he got legal advice. Well, tell us who gave you this legal advice. Tell us how much it cost you to get the wrong legal advice because it is already in the existing law of our land for a tie-breaker such as what has happened in the THA election.
But they don’t want that tie-breaker. They want to give their friends in the EBC to gerrymander the boundaries to give the PNM a victory.
They don’t want to break ties – they want to entrench the PNM in Tobago.
They are trying to push the THA Amendment Bill in one week. One week – in what they have been trying to do in other ways with another THA amendment bill which they’ve had on the Order Paper forever, which has been before a Joint Select Committee, and they can’t get it done because they really don’t want to give Tobago self-government.
Five years came and went, we are now in the sixth year, and they bring a piecemeal bill to break a tie. You were bringing a law with a simple majority when what you need is a special majority. When what you need is a consultation with the people of Tobago.
Our Parliament has been running on standing orders since 1962, but we were working to amend the standing orders in keeping with current best practices.
In 2014 we set up a standing order committee in Parliament. We produced the standing orders of 2015. When the committee completed its work, we brought a motion to adopt the new standing orders.
There is a provision under Standing Order 4 that where there is a tie, you resolve the issue by drawing lots.
Right here in Trinidad, it has been the law for local government regional corporations to break the tie by drawing lots. It has been done in Siparia and Mayaro.
Down to the PNM voted to change the standing orders. They voted for this tiebreaker – Rowley, Imbert, and Deyalsingh.
Keith Rowley said in the debate then. “I consider being a watershed moment because if we get this done right, significant change will be done.” Minister Imbert was a member of the committee that put forward these recommendations.
Imbert spoke about the event of a tie and electing a speaker.
He said that is a standard procedure of doing things in other jurisdictions. He said that is one innovation I warmly endorse. There is no need to come to Parliament to change the law. There is the tiebreaker.
After fifty-plus years, the PNM continues to fail the people of Tobago, and Rowley himself, a Tobagonian by birth, is the ultimate disappointment for the people of Tobago.
When they may have thought he as a Tobagonian would finally give them the autonomy that they want, he came behind their back to deceive them for his own political reasons.
The United National Congress stands with all law-abiding citizens. We acknowledge the efforts of the hard-working members of the TTPS who put their lives on the line, with limited resources to keep our country safe.
Every citizen is entitled to due process. You are innocent until proven guilty. This article is shared by Kamla Persad on her official Facebook account.