COP demands apology from Rowley
...for calling Hamel-Smith a PM 'rubber stamp'
THE Congress of the People (COP) has demanded that Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley apologise to Senator and acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith for remarks that Hamel-Smith was a "rubber stamp".
Rowley, at a People's National Movement (PNM) post-budget meeting in Diego Martin on Thursday said Hamel-Smith had used his position to become a rubber stamp for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in the Section 34 controversy.
He also called for a review of the Constitutional arrangement for the Presidency which allows for an active politician to sit in the country's highest office when the substantive President is absent.
COP Leader Prakash Ramadhar, in a statement yesterday said:
"The Congress of the People is appalled by the shameless hypocrisy and completely inappropriate behaviour by the Leader of the Opposition in launching an unwarranted attack on the President of the Senate and acting President of the nation, His Excellency Timothy Hamel-Smith.
"Upon ascension to the Office of the President of the Senate, Mr Hamel-Smith made it clear that he will not participate in partisan political activity to protect the independence of that office. He has kept his word and always acted with integrity and in exemplary fashion. Mr Hamel-Smith demonstrates fairness and fearlessness in the execution of his duties."
Ramadhar said Rowley's attack on both the office and officeholder was further evidence that he, Rowley, is unfit for any leadership role in our governance.
"Furthermore, the hypocrisy of Dr Rowley's claim of bias and 'rubber-stamping' is obscene," Ramadhar added.
"Dr Rowley was a senior member of the PNM when it appointed a sitting executive member, Dr Linda Baboolal and later former government minister, Mr Danny Montano, both active politicians, to the Office of the President of the Senate. He never made such claims then."
Rowley's sudden interest in Constitution reform is equally unbelievable, Ramadhar said.
"The Congress of the People calls on Dr Rowley to desist from such inflammatory behaviour and issue an appropriate apology to Mr Hamel-Smith and to the nation. The Leader of the Opposition must act responsibly and not put self-interest above that of Trinidad and Tobago," he added.