Tuesday, January 23, 2018

MSJ lauds COP members, criticises political leader


MSJ BOSS: David Abdulah

Mark Fraser

Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) Political Leader, David Abdulah, has lauded Congress of the People’s former leader Winston Dookeran and COP chair Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan for their decision to vote against the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 yesterday morning.

Speaking at a news conference at the Communication Workers’ Union on Henry Street, Port of Spain, Abdulah said the statements by Dookeran last night were consistent with the party’s policies.

He however criticised COP’s political leader Prakash Ramadhar for voting in favour of the Bill, noting that he went against the party’s position.

“We say to the members of COP — how could you have a National Council on Sunday where it was articulated by the leader of the party that the vote should not be taken and that it should either be postponed to allow time for public debate or it should go to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament and neither of those two things happened and members of the party including Mr Ramadhar and Dr Douglas voted for the bill,” he said.

Abdulah said the MSJ was totally against the United National Congress for voting on the bill although there was a wide cross-section of the national community who felt there should have been consultations on it.

“While two elements of the Constitution — the term limits of the Prime Minister and the recall of MPs — were not elements or issues that were new and in fact had received very extensive discussion in the country over a long period of time and which in principle the MSJ has no problem with, the issue of the run-off aspect has never ever been discussed,” he said.

He said bearing this in mind, it was absolutely wrong for the Government to take the bill to the Parliament with that provision included.

“Having a majority in the House does not give the UNC the right to pass the legislation. It is illegitimate and whether it will be found illegal by the court, time will tell,” he told reporters.

The MSJ will be hosting two public forums on the “dangers of the bill to democracy”. 

The first forum will be held today at the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Paramount Building in San Fernando while the other will be held tomorrow at City Hall, Port of Spain.

Both forums will begin at 6 pm and will include panel discussions by speakers such as attorneys Judy Kublalsingh, Mickela Panday and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.

Abdulah said the party will make an important announcement about its intended action against the bill at the forums.