IS the legislation to give soldiers police powers also allowing certain individuals a "private army to move around with" and to lock up Government opponents, questioned Opposition MP Paula Gopee-Scoon.
"Nobody wants it. And you have sought to assure us that the (crime) statistics give no basis for it, then...people just want a private army...to lock up any opponents to the Government, persons who they can't force the independent police to arrest. So I can only think that is the reason for it."
She was contributing to debate on Friday on The Defence (Amendment) Bill 2013 at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. The Bill was eventually passed in Lower House on Friday with 29 votes for and 11 against.
Gopee-Scoon noted the major issue is the escalating murder rate and, while soldiers are doing a "wonderful job" assisting police, they have no skills in investigation and will not be able to handle the murder rate.
"Whether you train them or so, the point is they will still remain soldiers and it is very confusing to them because you cannot expect them to be both soldiers and also police."
Gopee-Scoon also questioned the drafting of the Bill.
"And you will notice a trend being established whenever the Government wants to do something dangerous you can always tell, it is by abandonment of all the required processes and procedures which we have in this country to ensure that our democratic traditions are in fact maintained."
Gopee-Scoon gave the example of the Section 34 controversy and said this Bill was an "almost similar situation".
She said she was informed that Bill was drafted by a former Law Association president and hence the "piece-meal approach".
She said she was also informed that Legal Affairs Minister and head of the Legislative Review Committee (LRC), Prakash Ramadhar, saw the Bill for the first time at Cabinet and the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) was also "completely left out of the loop".
"Sorry state of affairs. This is just another Section 34," said Gopee-Scoon.
Questioned during the tea-break whether he saw the bill before Cabinet, Ramadhar said "yes", before leaving for a meeting. He did not confirm whether it went through the LRC or the CPC.
Gopee-Scoon, in her contribution, said that to support the democracy of this country she cannot support the Bill. She described it as a "desperate attempt to camouflage" that Government is "floundering" to provide safety to citizens of this country.
She also commented that they were "prepared to sacrifice democracy to salvage political points".
She said no previous administration seriously contemplated that measure because it was prone to major risks and has a potential to create a police state.
"Very dangerous powers a Government should have," she added.