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Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday that he never implied that former commissioner to the Constitution Reform Commission Dr Merle Hodge had been paid to remain silent. In a statement yesterday, Ramlogan accused Hodge of dereliction of duty. “At no time did I imply that Commissioners were paid to be silent or that they were bought off. The pompous and self-righteous indignation was therefore unnecessary and uncalled for and respectfully, misses the mark.”
On Friday, during a news conference at his Cabildo Chambers office, Ramlogan said the members of the Constitution Commission were “handsomely paid” as he referred to Hodge’s position which called for a postponement of the debate.
In response, Hodge said: “Were we ‘handsomely paid’, Mr AG, for us to be silent on this kind of dishonesty? Very unfortunate comment, Mr AG, for it suggests that your government pays professionals not for their work, but to buy their acquiescence. You must know that you will never be able to buy everybody.”
She drew this response from Ramlogan yesterday: “Dr Hodge was part of a Commission that submitted a unanimous report to the government after a year of public consultations and meetings. If she disagreed with a recommendation, she had the responsibility and option of doing a minority report and recording her dissent with reasons. She did not.” Ramlogan further said he found “Dr Hodge’s sudden change of heart to be curious.”
In a statement on Saturday, Hodge maintained the runoff proposal was never part of the public consultations. “The country was entitled to assume that issues relating to constitutional reform were carefully discussed, deliberated upon and analysed by all commissioners before they submitted their recommendations to the cabinet. They should have considered public sentiment, the possible repercussions and ramifications, and whether it was in the best interest of the country,” Ramlogan said.
“The runoff provision did not come from the people, and it was never revealed to the people before August 4, one week before it was to be debated in the Parliament,” she said. “It is therefore dishonest to claim that the people were consulted on this provision, especially as the government is turning a deaf ear to what the people are saying about it during that week.”
“My concern with the runoff proposal is not so much where it first appeared; at this point I don’t care. My concern is how the population has reacted to it. Many people are offended and alarmed by this particular item, and a democratic government would take heed, rather than respond with bad-john defiance to a week of widespread objection.”