There will be no backing down on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014. In fact, the People’s Partnership Government led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar herself will hit the ground from today in a bid to educate the people and clear the fears and doubts with respect to the run-off provision of the Bill.
The United National Congress (UNC) will be holding a public meeting tonight in Gasparillo and according to Acting Attorney General and Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, the Government will show the people how the Bill seeks to strengthen to the democracy and will listen to the feedback.
The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago, led by Seenath Jairam SC, on Saturday called for the debate in the Senate to be stopped and for the people to be consulted on its provisions. However, speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, Moonilal said that as of now, there is no debate in the Senate on the Bill thereby allowing further discussions on its provisions.
The Bill was laid in the Parliament on August 4 by the Prime minister.
It proposes fixed terms for a prime minister, the right of recall of an MP and the most controversial aspect—a run-off vote—where a second poll will be held in a constituency between the two top parties, in the event candidates do not obtain more than 50 per cent of the vote.
The Bill was passed on the House of Representatives on August 12 with Government’s simple majority.
COP Ministers Winston Dookeran and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan voted against the Bill whilst Social Integration Minister Rodger Samuel, a COP member, abstained. The debate on the Bill in the Senate is carded to take place on August 26 where the vote of at least one independent senator is needed for its passage.
Questioned on whether Government will heed the Law Association’s call for the debate to be stopped, Moonilal said there was ample time for further discussion. “Members of the Law Association are free to engage in discussions themselves and to advance any other recommendation they have,” said Moonilal.
Moonilal said Government faces the challenge of treating with the misinformation being put into the public domain about the Bill but remains committed to its policy objectives. “I think the PNM has engendered a lot of hysteria and emotion on this matter,” said Moonilal “The run-off provision is extremely democratic, it gives people the right not to one but to two votes…taken from majority principle and not the principle of plurality, it is putting an end to electoral apartheid,” said Moonilal…READ MORE