Senate president Timothy Hamel-Smith had to ask the Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to refrain from references to the heritage of People’s National Movement (PNM) senator Faris Al-Rawi.
Yesterday’s Senate sitting saw a lot of tit-for-tat between Ramlogan and Al-Rawi which at times became acrimonious.
Al-Rawi on Tuesday, had criticised Ramlogan stating among other things that he had presided over some of the worst drafted legislation and that he was the worst prepared Attorney General in the history of the country. He raised several concerns about the Administration of Justice Bill which requires categories of persons to give a DNA sample
Yesterday as he wound up the debate on the Administration of Justice Bill, Ramlogan accused the PNM of supporting the rights of criminals and of attacking the “draftsmen” working in his office. “They (the draftsmen) are at the top of their game. They were scholarship winners. Upper second class honours in their LLB, not like you. Not like you. You are no paragon of intellectual virtue,” Ramlogan said.
The Attorney General also said Al-Rawi had stated the detection rate for crimes was down, when the detection rate for serious crimes was up. Al-Rawi kept objecting to which he described as the Attorney General misrepresentation of his (Al-Rawi’s) contribution.
“He claims he is a descendant of the prophet (Muhammad) you see,” Ramlogan said, causing chuckles.
“If the Attorney General wants to raise a substantive motion on me, let him do so,” Al-Rawi shot back.
Hamel-Smith said he was sure the Attorney General made the remark “in jest” and would withdraw it. Ramlogan referred to the fact that Al-Rawi (who is of Trinidadian Indian and Iraqi heritage) had actually stated in an interview (in 2010) that his 43rd grandfather was a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. “He said it actually,” Ramlogan said. “And it is the truth. Why are you concerned with that?” Al-Rawi responded. “Ah want to know if ah should bow because you are a descendant from the prophet,” Ramlogan replied.
As he continued his contribution, Ramlogan observed Al-Rawi was on his cellphone, rather than listening to him. “But those are the privileges of a direct descendant of the prophet, you see,” Ramlogan said. “What is your problem?” Al-Rawi asked. “Could the prophet give me a chance to speak?” Ramlogan rejoined.
Al-Rawi at this stage rose to say the Attorney General “was engaged in constant commentary on a person of this House. If he wishes to raise a substantive motion concerning my conduct, he is entitled to do so. I don’t talk about the Attorney General’s background or heritage. I talk about his work or lack thereof. So I must insist that you as president consider the privileges of members of this House and arrest this horrible behaviour on the part of the Attorney General. It is the weakest form of debate to engage your opponent on himself as opposed to the issues”.
As the president cautioned the Attorney General, Al-Rawi shouted: “Does he have a problem with Arabs?” Ramlogan said his references to Al-Rawi’s heritage was “more out of respect”.
The two senators clashed again as Ramlogan suggested that Al-Rawi had to take supplemental exams while he was studying law. Ramlogan said he (Ramlogan) topped his class.
Al-Rawi shot back that Ramlogan knew he missed one law exam and had to take a supplemental because he had to leave Cavehill to attend his grandfather’s (Lionel Seukeran) funeral.
“He is an untruthful son of a gun,” Al-Rawi remarked, causing Hamel-Smith to tell him that “he was crossing the border of what was acceptable”. Al-Rawi then apologised, but said he was “upset” by the AG’s “lack of truth”.