8 May 2015

Abusing Parliament

When KP-B won the general election in Trinidad and Tobago in May 2010, she secured a majority in Parliament when she formed the new government from a coalition of parties. Since then, she has used this majority to the detriment of Trinidad and Tobago, in systematically (and with increasing degradation) abusing the authority and respect of Parliament. There are many instances, in fact too many to cite (just click on the "political" label on the side panel) where the government has made a mockery of Parliament, parliamentary privileges and the standing orders.

Just when I thought they had reached an all-time low with Vernella Alleyne-Toppin’s mischievous and crass contribution, KP-B has once again used that majority with detrimental effect. In a malicious and strategic ploy, she has moved a motion of censure against Keith Rowley and had him suspended from Parliament. In essence, this has taken away the representation of his constituency as well as leaving the Opposition without its democratically elected leader.

Just to make it clear, I can find no instance of this anywhere in the world, where common law and the Westminster system of government is practised, that this has happened. It is not illegal but yet, it is not right. It has again revealed a constitutional flaw - where the government can do the same to each individual member of the Opposition and effectively have each member suspended from Parliament and conduct business completely unopposed. This view is supported by former Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday:

“What happened here is that the Government has used its majority to expel a person from Parliament and if the Standing Orders and the Constitution give them the right to expel every member of the Opposition and run a Government without an Opposition.”

Dr Rowley’s suspension also means that he will not be paid, losing some $47,000 per month.

What is even stranger, is that Dr Rowley was suspended for an issue that has not yet been completely investigated by the authorities. The Integrity Commission, and the legal department of the police service, have yet to analyse the contents of the data provided by Google concerning "email-gate". The public may remember that this issue was about some emails that Dr Rowley had read in Parliament, and which pointed to a conspiracy about the infamous section 34 loophole, which allowed some UNC (government) financiers to escape corruption charges.

This situation tells me 2 things:

  1. The government is worried about the opposition with another general election just around the corner. The incumbent prime minister seems to be extremely worried that her party will not be re-elected and thus seeks to make Dr Rowley a scapegoat and undesirable at the polls. She appears to have lost faith in her party's performance and in the public's loyalty to choose her.
  2. It also seems to me that she is worried about the final outcome of the data presented by Google, and is "taking in front" as we say in Trinidad and Tobago. In other words, she is anticipating or uncertain of a negative outcome and is making it next to impossible for Dr Rowley to take advantage of that. Dr Rowley will certainly not be protected by parliamentary privilege if he makes any statement from now on, leading the possibility of civil action against him. It is a rather droll situation.
I hold no brief for this or any government that practice such scurrilous activities. This latest strategy smacks of yet another creeping dictatorship, which is coupled with so many broken promises, abuses, outright half-truths, lies and innuendoes that one may be forgiven for thinking it is a reality show called "Insanity Gone Wild". It is masturbating over the face of a public prostituting itself, and claiming to deliver milk and honey.

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