“The sole recommendation by the Rowley administration of former PNM Minister and Member of Parliament Christine Kangaloo for President is effectively burning our Constitution and taking Trinidad and Tobago headlong into dictatorship.” declared MP Davendranath Tancoo.
What Trinidad and Tobago needs is an independent, objective and capable President who can make decisions on behalf of all citizens.
The Prime Minister wants the country to focus on whether Mrs. Kangaloo is qualified for the position, but as all is needed is to be a citizen over 35 years old, and over 600,000 citizens will therefore qualify!
Citizens must consider whether the President can be independent as there is great fear and concern that the rights and privileges of citizens will now be put into jeopardy by a politically biased President. Given the PM’s insistence with this clearly politically tainted nominee, the onus is on Christine Kangaloo to reject this appointment.
According to Tancoo, The Office of the President is designed to convey the image of independence, necessary for the protection of citizens from abuse by government. The President needs to be someone with no political affiliations, who will be able to act independently especially given the economic and social state of the country. Obviously this cannot be said of Christine Kangaloo.
Ironically, Dr. Rowley and the PNM heavily objected to politicians being made President. In fact, Dr. Rowley has historically and more recently is reported to have advised his disdain for the practice. However, today, his nominee is a former PNM Minister, Senator and PNM appointed President of the Senate.
It should be noted that the precedent for political bias has already been set. We have seen that on the first instance when Kangaloo acted as President, she was advised by the Rowley Cabinet to dismiss then Central Bank Governor Jwala Rambaran. She acted expeditiously. It has been since found by the High Court that this action was wrong, costing taxpayers millions in legal fees and penalties.
The framers of our Constitution determined that the Office of the President should have tremendous power for the purpose of holding Government to account and for establishing an INDEPENDENT office to make INDEPENDENT appointments to INDEPENDENT bodies including the Senate and Service Commissions.
This was designed to insulate our democracy from abuse by the Government. For example, the President appoints the Elections and Boundaries Commission.
If the President is PNM and chooses to appoint known PNM politicians and activists as Commissioners, the entire Electoral system would be corrupted.
A compliant President can appoint PNM party hacks to the PSC or even stymie the appointment process of persons unless approved by the PNM. One such example is the political interference which led to the collapse of the Police Service Commission and effectively compromised the appointment of the Commissioner of Police.
The Senate itself can become a virtual PNM party group since the UNC has 6 Senators, the official PNM has 16 and the President appoints 9 “independent senators”. The reason for the numbers was to ensure some semblance of balance to prevent abuse of the Parliament and poor laws being passed by a runaway Government.
A PNM sympathetic President can now be appointing 9 PNM activists as “independent Senators” together with the PNMs 16 Senators effectively creating a dictatorship. Bad laws which require special majority would be guaranteed because PNM will have the numbers in the Senate to facilitate same. It should be noted that Special Majority requirement for laws was to ensure that rights of our citizens as contained in our Constitution are protected. But even this provision has been manipulated at times to suit the political will of the PNM.
The President also appoints judges, so a biased President also creates the opportunity for a political sabotage of the Judiciary and Legal System as well. We have already seen instances as in Nelson Gate where the Attorney General is reported to have offered amnesty and other concessions for testimony (which he had no power to do) but which a compliant President could put in place. There is a real risk of political and personal abuse and persecution by PNM office holders in these circumstances.
MP Tancoo is adamant that “The Presidency of the Country is not a minor appointment. I urge citizens to pay close attention to the appointment of a PNM politician as this has the potential to create significant political abuse of office of every independent institution in this country, including the Judicial System.
Trinidad and Tobago are now at the crossroads of dictatorship and democracy. The PNM Government is openly pursuing dictatorship and are seeking to trivialize this appointment and the effects it will have on our country for future generations.”
MP Davendranath Tancoo