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Marlene keeps Anil quiet
PNM MP Marlene McDonald silenced the usually talkative Government MP Anil Roberts in Parliament yesterday when she dropped several sharp references to “Spanish” and “Room 201” in Roberts’ direction. McDonald was delivering a fiery contribution in yesterday’s debate on legislation to precept soldiers for the anti-crime fight, when Roberts appeared to tease her.
McDonald shot back: “I doh need no clap! When I learn to speak Spanish I’ll go and talk to him, I’ll go to Room 201.” The Parliament chamber rang with a loud chorus of “Oh!” Calling for the bill to be withdrawn, McDonald said the Government should have further consultation and then return it. Describing the bill as “a half-picked duck,” McDonald said the Government was ill-advised and didn’t understand its consequences.
She expressed concern that the Police Complaints Authority might not have jurisdiction over complaints concerning soldiers and the latter, claiming immunity, might be free to commit abuses of people or property and there would be no redress for citizens. She said during the 2011 state of emergency, the army picked up many people from depressed areas like Duncan Street, Beetham, Laventille and Sea Lots.
McDonald said the legislation could set the stage for a “showdown” between police and soldiers. She queried who would control the police. “Ramesh,” some PP MPs murmured. McDonald asked why there was “reluctance” to give control to the Police Commissioner. She claimed the bill might be the first step to institutionalise the involvement of military power.
She said the Government’s move to amend a segment and give the Chief of Defence Staff supervisory power, rather than the National Security Minister, was still wrong, since the CDS reported to the minister.
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