As if to show how “independent” they are, the Independent Senators have been refusing to support the Defence Amendment Bill. Their “independence” reached the ludicrous yesterday, when they almost came to blows with Senator Wayne Sturge who, rightly or wrongly, accused them of heckling him while he was making his maiden speech.
But, what is it that drives this adamant refusal of the Independents to support the internationally-accepted idea of empowering soldiers to fight violent crime?
Among other things, they insist the power and authority of the Chief of Defence Staff will be diluted, even though the constitution puts him squarely under the specific and general command of the government of the day, even though the specific and general command of the government is under the control of the Prime Minister, not the Defence Force’s Commander-in-Chief. Their notions reflect the type of lack of understanding of our nation’s laws expected of those in Parliament for many years. In any event, Independent Senators aren’t cavalierly chosen: it’s the President who appoints them due to their eminent qualification and experience.
I’m therefore very perplexed the Independents would openly make a mockery of what our constitution prescribes. Could it be the Independents sit too close to the PNM Opposition, thus have become contaminated? I suspect more than likely the Independents have simply forgotten their raison d’être.
The genesis of the Independent Bench in our Upper House is that each Independent Senator represents the view of some sector of society which otherwise doesn’t have a voice in Parliament. His Excellency the President Carmona recently reminded us of this fact when he appointed paraplegic, attorney Ian Roach as a Senator.
Whose bell does the existing crop of Independents therefore toll when it rises or opens its mouth? And, from whom do these Max-Richards-appointed legislators take instructions regarding from where to springboard and how to cut and thrust in a debate?
Their vested interests must realize in 2013 it’s foolhardy to continue eating up over TT$1b a year to upkeep a highly-trained national defence unit that doesn’t engage criminals when criminals are openly fighting to take control of every legitimate sector of Trinidad and Tobago by violent means?
The Independents need to get their act together and stand with us, the law-abiding citizens, as we cringe before the murderous onslaught of these criminals. If they don’t, I’m afraid it means they support the criminals.
I consequently call upon the Independents to stop filibustering the proposed Defence Bill and let it pass. If they join with the PNM and refuse, I demand the government trims the fat from the Bill, as any health-conscious chef would do before choonkaying any dish.
There’s a recent report which weighs us as the 3rd fattest nation on earth. Excess fat debilitates. Fat removed, the Government can then simply establish a policy that the Commissioner of Police shall issue arrest powers to the soldiers recommended by the Chief of our Defence Force.
Under existing law, the Commissioner is the one authorized to issue such powers; and the Commissioner takes instructions on policy matters from the Government.
Heaven help us if out of touch Independents force our Defence Force to remain a permanently caged guard dog: highly-trained, highly-nourished and highly alert, but unable to be let loose to sniff out the callous, bloodthirsty criminals rampaging at large.
La Horquette, Diego Martin