The Power of Sat
Monday June 11, 2018
The POWER OF SAT
On Monday June 11th 2018, your Columnist, Mr. Michael Harris, described the establishment of a Special Select Committee of the House to investigate the Police Service Commission’s (PSC) procedure in the selection of a Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police as an “elaborate ritual” convened by the Government “simply because the person recommended by the PSC for the post of Commissioner was an Indian”. Given the experience of your Columnist and the deeply offensive nature of this assertion I must protect your readers from this uninformed piece of misrepresentation by putting the facts before them.
The records of Parliament would reveal that, as Prime Minister, I moved the Motion asking the House to receive the notification of the President with respect to the recommendation of the Police Service Commission, as required by the Constitution. In doing so, I spoke very briefly outlining the Motion, as written, and I made one additional point. I said as follows -
“Madam Speaker, in order to allow this House to make that decision in a way that would satisfy the population, it is my view that the House needs assistance; assistance to have questions answered before the House proceeds any further, and it is on that basis, Madam Speaker that I recommend to my colleagues in this House that we revert to Section 50(3) of the Standing Orders so that the House can be assisted.”
My presentation took all of 4 pages, delivered in three minutes.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, then joined the debate and spoke at length, as recorded on 12 pages of Hansard, endorsing, even attempting to take ownership of the idea of the Select Committee, as follows:-
- “We do see merit in having a special Select Committee set up……….because the office of the Commissioner of Police is one of the most important offices in the country when it comes to our democracy and enforcement of law and order”
- “It is imperative that the process that was engaged in to arrive at any nomination coming before us and for us to approve that process must have been transparent, it must have been fair (Desk thumping by Opposition MPs) and it must be such as to preclude any taint of interference”
- “That is what the law provides, and that is why this Select Committee……is so vital because there have been all kinds of allegations in the public domain”
- “Because, again, Privy Council rules have told us , listen, if there is any hint or taint of any kind of interference, political or otherwise, if there is any flaw in the process by which this is done, there would be no trust, and there is no confidence in the top office for Commissioner of Police”
- “This Select Committee determines issues of fact………that is an issue of law that can be determined very easily by the Committee. These are issues of fact as to the process that took place, and that is why this Select Committee is going to be so vital. This Select Committee can help us to get information, documentation, evidence touching and concerning method, process…..utilized by the Police Service Commission”
- “Persons are raising questions…….one of law….questions about whether they applied for the post or did not apply for the post. And if it did happen, was it lawful? “Was it intra vires the process that should have been followed?” “Can you apply for one post but then be offered another one?”
- “You see horses in midstream being changed and so on. … So a lot of things out there in the public domain, in law, are in my respectful view erroneous.”
- There are: “issues touching and concerning the quorum”“And then, of course, there are all kind of stories about one nominee being close to a member of the Service Commission. This raises a whole issue of bias, apparent bias (Desk thumping by Opposition MPs) which again we have to see what really happened. What transpired?”
- “Issues touching on and concerning the Police Complaints Authority sending documentary evidence to the Service Commission.”
- “The Select Committee is the place……..is a very positive thing to happen, because we would really be utilizing a very strong and powerful tool in the hands of Parliamentarians when we go to Select Committee. And that is why I had written to the Hon Prime Minister and I would like to put parts of this into the record because it justifies my support for having a Select Committee.”
- “And so, what is now awash in the public domain……raises more questions than answers with respect to the process employed and the proposed nominees. And this is why, Madam Speaker a Select Committee is the way to go”
- “And I see in the Motion for the Select Committee that we will be looking not only at the Police Service Commission but also the firm that was contracted by this Police Service Commission as to their methods, their process and so on. A Special Select Committee of the House should be established to expeditiously enquire into and report to the House on this matter. Such a Committee will be empowered……to summon the Commission before it and seek your disclosure of all relevant material that was considered by the Commission in arriving at this decision.”
- “I am saying there are questions and there are concerns which this Committee could help us with, given the mandate that they would obtain additional information to help us obtain documentation, evidence and so on, to make sure that this process is transparent. And so Madam, I am saying, the Select Committee is the only way to go, because that is the only place we can get this type of information.”
- “Madam Speaker, to cut a long story short we support the establishment of the Select Committee"(Desk Thumping, by the Opposition MPs)
The fourteen (14) excerpts listed here are extracts from the official Hansard record of the position of the Opposition led by Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, yet the Government is accused by Mr. Harris, an experienced columnist, of contriving to act against Mr. Dulalchan, because of his race. Logic demands that a similar allegation be made against the Opposition Leader who leads a bench of eighteen (18) members of whom sixteen (16) are Indo Trinidadians.
Amazingly, as soon as the head of the Maha Sabha came out and publicly called for the appointment of Mr. Dulalchan, the Opposition jumped to attention, and the position of Mrs. Persad-Bissessar was completely reversed, so much so that today, she considers the numerous flaws in the procedure of the Commission to be minor and insignificant. Now, she too favours the promoting a completely false narrative of racial bias on the part of the Government against Mr. Dulalchan, a position of UNC political gymnastics embarrassingly adopted, without query, by Mr. Harris, the columnist.
The Hansard record will show, irrefutably, that on February 2nd 2018, when the Select Committee was established, there was absolutely no support for Mr. Dulalchan to be then found on the Opposition benches.
As can be explained by a careful perusal of the Parliament’s public records, the Select Committee found that the procedure followed by the Commission was arbitrary, defective and lacked transparency. Consequently, the House of Representatives considered the procedure to be unreliable and, in the majority, concluded that no decision emanating from that procedure will be approved by the House of Representatives.
As Leader of the PNM and of the Government of this beloved nation, I simply ask of those bent on destroying the beauty of our people and the fabric of this land, that you all just leave the government and all right-thinking citizens out of your regrettable behavior of race baiting. We subscribe to and practice the tenet that make us who we are: “Every creed and race finds an equal place”.