Thursday, December 20, 2012

President should have asked questions before signing Section 34 proclamation

Reginald Dumas
Retired Head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas wants to know why President Max Richards is asking questions about section 34 today when he signed the controversial legislation into law in August.

Dumas raised the issue in a telephone interview Wednesday with the Newsday newspaper in response to the announcement by Opposition Leader Keith Rowley that Richards wrote to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar asking about the early proclamation of Section 34.

Dumas said when the legislation was put before him for proclamation, the president should have asked what it was all about.

“Why only seek the proclamation of that Section? That is highly unusual," Dumas told the paper. 

"If the President did ask that, what was the reply? If he went ahead and proclaimed it, it seems that he was satisfied with the reply if he did ask. 

"The question has to be why are you now expressing doubts apparently about what you proclaimed several months ago. I don’t understand,” Dumas added. 

Dumas suggested that by writing to the Prime Minister the perception now is that the president has stepped into the political arena. 

Dumas said it has been perceived over the years that Richards was a supporter of the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the fact that his father, George Richards, QC, served as the country’s first Attorney General in 1962 under a PNM regime has strengthened that perception.

“It would be perceived that he has entered into the political arena, and that he has acted on the suggestion at the request of a grouping that is seen as political and opposition,” he said.

“If he is perceived to have immersed himself in politics that is a further wedge among the various sections of the society,” he said.

Dumas stated that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was correct when he said that Richards would be overstepping his constitutional boundary if he were to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the Section 34 without Cabinet’s approval.

“Ramlogan is correct. The President can ask questions, he has the right to do that, but he cannot institute an inquiry without Cabinet’s approval,” he said.

Dumas also noted that while the Opposition is making a “great song and dance” about the matter people must remember that the legislation went through Parliament and the Opposition, and the Independent Senators voted for it.

“The Opposition and the Independent Senators did not display the kind of vigilance that the people of the country should consider themselves entitled to," he said. "I am not at all impressed by all this movement after the fact, after the legislation was repealed. What I would like to know is, why did they not display the sort of vigilance that they ought to display at the time the legislation was put before them,” he added.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai