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Protesters jeer senators outside House as Runoff heat gets hotter

Thursday, August 28, 2014
Independent Senator Dr Rolph Balgobin, left, speaks to colleague Dr Victor Wheeler during yesterday's debate on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 in the Upper House, at Tower D, International Waterfront, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

Independent Senator Ian Roach said yesterday he would not hesitate or have troubled thoughts over what would serve the public interest in the ongoing debate over the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014. His comment came during the second day of debate on the contentious bill and even as other senators revealed they had been heckled and jeered by protesters while leaving the Parliament Building on Tuesday during the first day of the debate.

Noting, too, the public concern and the heavy media coverage of the issues surrounding the bill, Roach said:
“Let me state categorically that such media coverage or, for that matter, any of the public pleas and lobbying of the sanctity of the Constitution did not at all cause me any apprehension or fear whatsoever.

“Instead, it served to motivate me and raise my awareness even further of what is at stake debating the bill and the consequences should I ignore or neglect the significant and relentless outcry from the public that the said bill is passed into law, if that be the case, without the careful and microscopic scrutiny.” 

He said he had been reading articles published in the newspaper with “fervor and delightful interest” and had listened to personal views from ordinary people on the street on what they hoped he would do or not do to protect the people from an apparently deaf Government intent on doing what they like, when they like and how they like.

“Now, can I as a representative of the people giving them a voice in the affairs of Parliament, although vicariously appointed, ignore those voices or consider them intimidating or threatening?” he asked. Roach’s views were somewhat similar to those expressed by Senator Dhanayshar Mahabir, who said he would not be silenced. He too said he was booed by citizens waiting outside the Parliament when he left the building.

“The reality is that there is a great deal of heat in the national population and it is important for there to be a bit of light,” he said. Mahabir said he had also taken major exception to a newspaper story which questioned which Independent Senator would be “the Judas”. 

The T&T Guardian also learned that Dr Rolph Balgobin, who signalled on Tuesday his intention to support the bill if Government was willing to make reasonable changes, was also jeered as he left the House and sought a police escort to his vehicle. Yesterday, however, Balgobin denied that happened. Ironically, there were no huge crowds outside the Parliament yesterday raising their voices on the controversial bill. A few of them filtered to the venue later in the day but the numbers of Tuesday were not reproduced.


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