Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says she regrets the controversial proclamation and subsequent repeal of Section 34 which continues to haunt her People's Partnership Government."It should never have happened," said Persad-Bissessar yesterday as she spoke with reporters after the Land Settlement Agency's first draw of allocations for the Land for the Landless residential lots programme at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA), San Fernando.
On Monday, the controversial amendment to the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 reared its head once again during the debate on Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley's no-confidence motion in the Parliament.He disclosed a series of e-mails bearing the names of key Cabinet members, including Persad-Bissessar, sent over 17 days last September.
He alleged the e-mails were an exchange of communication that exposed a conspiracy to tap the Director of Public Prosecutions' telephone and intimidate T&T Guardian reporter Denyse Renne, who broke the Section 34 story last September.Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said she regretted Section 34 and "that is why I moved swiftly to have it (Section 34) repealed and indeed in the height of all these e-mails up and down, that's what was happening.
"We were in the Parliament – these alleged e-mails, I should say – we were in the Parliament repealing the very said Section 34."She declined to speak further on Section 34, however, since "that matter is now sub-judice, as you know, and I would not want to comment further on it. It is before the Court of Appeal."
The Prime Minister, flanked by Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, and Labour Minister Errol McLeod said she was "unfazed" by Rowley's allegations."I have nothing to fear from it. Immediately I got it, within the same day, within hours of having this brought to us, we passed it on to the acting Commissioner of Police for investigation," she said.She reiterated that the e-mails were a total "fabrication."
"I think it brings the Opposition into disrepute, to the extent that it will go. It seems to be acts of desperation on the part of the Opposition," she added.She said they were "clearly designed to bring the Government into disrepute. I think this thing has backfired completely."Any right-thinking person reviewing the e-mails," the PM said, "will know right away that it was a cut-and-paste job that was done."
Persad-Bissessar said Rowley's actions after he received the alleged e-mails also raised a number of questions.She asked: "Why would you get something that purports to carry very serious allegations of criminal intent, which therefore seems to have a threat to the safety and security of someone, and sit on it for six months? Obviously he did not believe it himself."Persad-Bissessar said if Rowley believed the contents of the e-mails he should have taken it to the police for investigation.
She said the issue of the e-mails, which Rowley said he passed to the President, did not come up during her meetings with former President George Maxwell Richards or his successor President Anthony Carmona.The PM declined to comment when she was asked if international help was being sought to trace the source of the e-mails."I would not want to pronounce upon or pontificate on what they should or should not do. That is an independent office. They will determine what needs to be done," she said.