I listened in wonderment to the Opposition Leader's post Electoral College "impromptu" media statement which dwelt on why he didn't congratulate the president-elect, Justice Carmona, on the latter's unopposed election as President Richards' successor. To me,
Dr Rowley provided a well-tailored justification for his silence on the most auspicious occasion and was quite in order "to clarify something for the historical record of Trinidad and Tobago", as he put it, therefore the promptness of his statement needs to be applauded as it
certainly was avant garde.
Despite its novelty, on reviewing what he said, it is clear he was not clear about what was
expected of him (as Opposition Leader) when the Electoral College is convened in the circumstance where it was today. He made a song and dance about "only a proposer being required to speak", but ignored completely what the Constitution plainly states will happen when there is an unopposed candidate for the presidential post: the College sits, only to be informed by its chairman that the unopposed candidate is the president-elect...the College is then disbanded...end of story...except the chairman authorises an added cosmetic touch.
What does that mean? It means there is no need, thus no opportunity, for anyone who proposes a candidate to speak (campaign/canvass support) when nothing is to be put to the vote, a situation somewhat similar to what obtains on a local or general election day wherever there is an unopposed candidate. With this particular Electoral College meeting, noble tradition (if not, common sense) demanded that the leader of Government, the leader of the Opposition and the chairman of the Electoral College each say a few congratulatory words in turn to the president-elect, after the chairman made the announcement as aforesaid. (In retrospect, as a nice added touch, whoever leads the Independent bench of the Senate also ought to have been invited to extend salutations.)
Considering everything, one may only hope sooner or later Dr Rowley does get it that not everything which takes place in the hallowed chamber of Parliament requires him to score political points, not
everything is about looking to take down those who were
democratically elected to
govern a peg or two. Trinidad and Tobago is literally a tiny speck. He must therefore take heed that, on a big blue marble that's fraught with and
belaboured by tawdry enmity, our minuscule size, added to our natural wealth and camaraderie, lend more to us
showing the world how to live and let live than any which other way when we meet in any constitutional collage of our democracy.