Friday, February 23, 2018

Lesson to be learnt from Buckingham Palace

There's nothing wrong with a President writing a Prime Minister for clarification on anything. The Constitution gives the President the right to know everything the Government does, intends, or did. Deny that at our peril. There is also nothing wrong with a Prime Minister promptly and appropriately responding as the incumbent and most Honourable Prime Minister has done. Once everything the President needs to know is already in unfenced public view, it's an abuse of process for the official who has eminent domain over every public thing and who avidly reads to feign ignorance. Deny that at our peril too.

There are those who suggest the President is not part of the executive arm of State. They genuinely or conveniently ignore or forget the President is Head of State, thus, all parts of State are subject to the President; furthermore, if grave circumstances warrant, the President can assume full power and run things...till things return to normalcy. They also ignore or forget we can get along quite fine without a Leader of The Opposition, according to Section 83(6) of our Constitution. Dr Rowley needs to take note of the statutorily mandated fickle nature of his relevancy, especially as it was his party which foisted it.

But, I wish to remind everyone we follow the Westminster system of government, a system which, just recently, saw Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II going to a cabinet meeting and overseeing its proceedings.

According to the BBC, Her Majesty's conduct marked the first occasion in 231 years such a thing happened in peacetime. The last was in 1781. The British media have been having a royal time chronicling the remarkable event. Their approach has been tender and loving, not malicious, no doubt due to the historic nature of the interaction. For example, that Her Majesty occupied the prime minister's chair and was treated with utmost deference throughout, even when she asked questions or dropped hints about the length of her next throne speech (which, by the way, the UK prime minister scripts for her to read).

The queen has been reigning since 1952; 2012 marks her Diamond Jubilee. Over the six-decade dynasty, She has summoned 12 politicians to Buckingham Palace, each of whom, when they departed, headed straight to No. 10 Downing Street. The point, in case you missed it, is that through Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace is the repository of institutional knowledge and fount of stability where the executive governance of the United Kingdom is concerned.

No wonder the British Anthem is "God, Save The Queen!"

The closest to such arrangement in Trinidad and Tobago is what can anyone say with certainty. Certainly not a Public Service whose right hand routinely doesn't know (or act in sync with) what its left hand's doing, who seems unable to maintain or locate proper records of what previous administrations did, especially when such doings were not above board? Is there a way out of the dilemma?

Heston Corbie