Deputy Political Leader of the United National Congress and Opposition Chief Whip, David Lee is condemning the continued attempts by the Dr. Keith Rowley-led Government to mislead the public and malign the Opposition.
Dr. Lee was commenting on the recent debate in the House of Representatives to note the report of the Special Select Committee (SSC) which examined the selection process for the Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police, in which the Opposition walked out in protest after members were not given the opportunity to respond to the malicious claims made by the Prime Minister during his presentation.
The Opposition Chief Whip issued the following statement:
Dr. Rowley’s statements in the Parliament and on the political platform on Thursday night must be condemned, and he is once again trying to mislead the people of this country, instead of dealing with his Government’s incompetence and failure to address the issues that are affecting our nation, the most critical one being spiralling crime.
Following the Prime Minister’s presentation in the House on Wednesday 6th June, Opposition MP Dr. Tim Gopeesingh rose to respond, but instead, Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds was recognized by the Speaker to wind up the debate. The Government members refused to give way, and it became clear that they wished to end the debate and deny the Opposition any further speaking opportunities on this important issue.
After we registered our disapproval of this restriction of the voices of the Opposition by leaving the Chamber, the Government proceeded to pass several Bills and motions, which shows just how devious this administration is, and to what levels they would stoop to get their way.
The Opposition questions the legitimacy of the passage of four Bills, the approval of three motions, and defeat of one motion, which the Government sought to push through the House.
When the Leader of the House moved the motion to continue the sitting, Mrs. Camille Robinson-Regis said, “Mr. Deputy Speaker in accordance with Standing Order 15 (5) I beg to move that this House do sit until the conclusion of the business before it”.
Standing Order 15(5) states, “At any time prior to the time of interruption (7.50 p.m.) a Minister may without notice move that the House continue to sit until the conclusion of the business on the Order Paper or any matter specified thereon. The question upon such a motion shall be put without amendment or debate.”
It must be noted that prior to this sitting, an email sent to Members on behalf of the Clerk of the House on Friday June 01, 2018 stated:
Dear Member, We have been instructed to inform you that the Thirty-Third Sitting of the House of Representatives will be held on Wednesday June 06, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. The House of Representatives Order Paper is submitted for your consideration. We are directed to advise that the matter to be first debated on that date is the Motion under Committee Business which appears first under Public Business.
The business under consideration by the House, as cited by the Leader of the House was, in fact, the Motion to note the SSC report, and nothing else. At the time of the interruption, if there were any further matters the Government wished to dispense with following the Motion under consideration, the Leader of the House should have identified this, but, no other business was at that time identified.
It is clear that the Government jumped at the opportunity to push their agenda forward, on key pieces of legislation, without any input from the Opposition, or giving members the chance to air concerns or propose critical amendments, and this is an alarming development. Once again, the PNM Government demonstrated to the people of this country that they simply cannot be trusted.
One of the motions the Government chose to move forward with was Motion No. 1 on the Order Paper:
WHEREAS section 123 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Chap. 1:01 (“the Act”) provides that the Police Service Commission shall submit to the President a list of the names of the persons nominated for appointment to the office of Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of Police;
AND WHEREAS section 123 (4) of the Act provides that the President shall issue a Notification in respect of each person nominated under subsection (3) and the Notification shall be subject to affirmative resolution of the House of Representatives;
AND WHEREAS the Police Service Commission has submitted to the President the name Mr. Deodat Dulalchan as the person nominated for appointment to the office of Commissioner of Police;
AND WHEREAS the President has on the 26th day of January, 2018 issued a Notification in respect of the nomination;
AND WHEREAS it is expedient to approve the Notification:
BE IT RESOLVED that the Notification of the President of the nomination by the Police Service Commission of Mr. Deodat Dulalchan to the office of Commissioner of Police be approved.
The Prime Minister wrapped up the debate on this motion, which was defeated. Notably, two similar notifications – of the nominations of both Mr. Deodat Dulalchan and Mr. Harold Phillip to the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police were not dealt with.
Why was the Prime Minister at pains to reject one nomination, but leave the other motions unresolved? Dr. Rowley made a feeble attempt to explain his error in judgment on a PNM political platform on Thursday night, but what is clear is that this Government is not concerned with good governance, transparency or accountability.
What occurred on Wednesday night was a travesty, and the people of this country should be very concerned about the dangerous path the Keith Rowley-led administration is taking us down.
Rowley and Government members have repeatedly attacked any person or entity which has spoken out against them, and now they are moving to restrict the voices of the Opposition, the representatives of the people, which is disturbing.
We call on citizens to speak out against this oppressive administration, and we call, once again for the people to be given the chance to choose a leader and team who will seek their interests – call the election now.