ghost of Section 34
Even before filing the motion of censure against Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Opposition leader Keith Rowley would have known that it stood no chance against the Government's built-in majority.
However, the motion has served its purpose of keeping the infamy of Section 34 alive and in public view.
The member for Chaguanas West, Jack Warner, countered the motion by saying that no explanation surrounding Section 34 will satisfy the Opposition. That may be so, but he should recognise that it is not just the PNM that remains unconvinced by the Prime Minister's explanation.
Dr Rowley is correct in stating that none of the explanations proffered by the Government answers the key question in the public mind: How did Section 34 come to be prematurely sent for proclamation along with the sundry sections relevant to preparing the ground for its proclamation?
Section 34 was the heart of the legislation under which persons accused of certain categories of crime would be released if their matters had not come before the court. It remains unthinkable that its untimely appearance on a cabinet note could have been missed by the entire cabinet including the four attorneys, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan SC, Minister of Legal Affairs Prakash Ramadhar and Minister of Justice Herbert Volney.
The question lingers because such comprehensive negligence and ineptitude at such a high level and involving a matter of such grave magnitude, is incomprehensible.
In the Westminster tradition, people would resign for much less while in Trinidad and Tobago, citizens are continually being asked to move on, forgive and forget.
In this matter, no member of the cabinet, especially the Attorney General as legal adviser to the cabinet, and the Prime Minister as leader of the government, should expect to be given the luxury of the benefit of the doubt.
In this matter, only the public is so entitled.
The unabated public concern and outrage about Section 34 suggest that public anxiety has not been assuaged by the Prime Minister's mea culpa and dismissal of Herbert Volney.
In this regard, Jack Warner's resort to the ethnic card in attacking the Opposition leader's motion is just reckless obfuscation that could be easily dismissed if it were not so distasteful and divisive. Mr Warner should know that it is precisely such expediency that has tripped up the government in one misstep after another.
The fiasco of Section 34 is a serious matter with potentially dire implications, the scope of which we will yet discover.
No one who sat in cabinet on that day and agreed to send it to the President for proclamation, has any moral authority for attacking any citizen who insists on answers.
It is a sad indictment of our politics that in a matter of such gravity, senior political figures, inside the government no less, are willing to defend themselves by any means necessary, including by playing the race card. Shame.