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Don’t vote for PP reform bill
People’s National Movement (PNM) whip Marlene McDonald has appealed to the nine Independent senators not to support the Government’s Constitution (Amendment) Bill. She did so at a PNM meeting in St James on Tuesday, when all the speakers celebrated the vote against the bill by Congress of the People (COP) MPs Winston Dookeran and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan in Tuesday’s debate. Audience members loudly applauded both when their stance against the bill was addressed.
The bill, to be debated next in the Senate on August 26, requires only one Independent vote for passage. Calling the United National Congress (UNC) “hooligans,” McDonald criticised statements on the bill by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, who she said was “classless” and “bombastic.” She said COP leader Prakash Ramadhar, who supported the bill, was “spineless.” PNM senator Stuart Young said he was a patriot bringing a message to all right-thinking people that the issue was about the people.
He said, “Thankfully, there were right-thinking citizens on the other side who voted with us against the bill.” Young urged, “Take your bills back. Your own Foreign Affairs Minister blanked the bill. Dookeran did what was right! Let’s vote them out. Goodbye, PP!” MP Colm Imbert said the COP’s Dookeran, Seepersad-Bachan and Rodger Samuel had broken ranks on the bill.
“How the mighty have fallen! They boil down! They had 29 MPs: (Jack) Warner gone, (Herbert) Volney gone, (Anil) Roberts gone and now three COP MPs gone!” he said. Saying “two and a half COP MPs” vetoed the bill, Imbert listed: “Dookeran, Seepersad-Bachan and Samuel—that wimp who say, ‘Abstain’—at least he didn’t vote, ‘Yes.’” Imbert said it was a “nice thing to listen to” when Dookeran said that all his political life he’d fought for proportional representation and the bill destroyed that.
PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley, introduced as “The People’s Prime Minister,” said he’d told Dookeran to get a backbone. “And did he get one,” he declared. He said the COP had told its MPs to seek postponement of the bill and when the Prime Minister saw it was in the public domain she allowed a conscience vote, which arose because the coalition was “disintegrating before their eyes... the TOP gone, MSJ gone and the COP went on Monday night.”
Rowley said after Dookeran’s “cannon,” the PM amended the bill. He said collective responsibility under the Westminster system applied to Cabinet, and the COP ministers would have had to resign from the Cabinet. If they were going to vote against it in Parliament, they should have done the honourable thing, he said.
The T&T Chamber talked “nonsense,” he charged, when it said the reform was a step in the right direction. He also said a quisling (traitor) known to him had given the Prime Minister the PNM’s constitutional review documents, in which the PNM had approved the same reforms the PP proposed.