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Constitutional Reform: Panday: Abolish Senate, set up 100-member unicameral Govt
The legalisation of same sex marriages, marijuana, prostitution, abortion, the separation of the church and state and the removal of God from the T&T constitution were some of the issues raised when the National Consultation for Constitutional Reform rolled into the Centre Pointe Mall, Chaguanas, on Saturday night. Former prime minister Basdeo Panday was among dozens of people who heard Panday continue his call for proportional representation to ensure people are equally represented by politicians in the future.
Panday started making calls for proportional representation during his tenure as the Opposition Leader prior to the 2010 General Election. He also wanted to know if there would be constitutional reform before the next general election. Panday said if next elections are held under the present system the consultation would amount to nothing but “a colossal waste of time.”
Panday suggested that the president be elected by the people using a one-man one-vote system, The presidents would then choose a Cabinet from the most intelligent people in the country. He said usually some politicians are not the most intelligent but get elected because “all they have is a big mouth.”
Panday suggested doing away with the Senate and proposed the setting up of a unicameral government with 100 members elected on the basis of proportional representation. He said any candidate getting 8,000 votes should be entitled to a seat. He said this would break the pattern of racial voting that has plagued T&T.
Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, who chaired the proceedings steered clear from answering Panday’s question relating to constitutional reform before election. Ramadhar said the consultation was one of the PP’s manifesto promises that was being fulfilled in this term of office.
Responding to other contributors, Ramadhar said he had heard the cries of the people and noted that the constitution shall come from the voice of the people. Ramadhar said he, too, shared the view that no one should be above the law regardless of their position. Other contributors called for the jailing of corrupt government officials and the legalisation of prostitution to keep tabs on human trafficking and sexually transmitted diseases.
Others called for the booting out of religion from public places, including school, citing that religion in public places serves the purpose of propagating the values of one group. There were calls for and against senators holding posts as ministers and the conversion of the Tobago House of Assembly into a regional corporation, and also for victims of crime to be compensated by the state or from the estate of the convicted criminals.
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