THE recent remarks pertaining to Dr Merle Hodge by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan are “utterly disgusting”, says David Abdulah, political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ). Abdulah said the MSJ fully supported Hodge’s call for a postponement of the debate on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014, scheduled for today in Parliament.
Speaking to members of the media during a news conference yesterday, Abdulah said it was Hodge’s right to freely express her opinions and Ramlogan was disrespectful in his responses.
The news conference was held at the MSJ’s head office, St Joseph Road, San Fernando.
Ramlogan said he found Hodge’s position strange since the commissioners were “handsomely paid”. Hodge was one of the five commissioners on the Constitution Reform Commission (CRC) which was chaired by Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar.
She had openly stated her disappointment relating to the new proposals of the bill announced by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in Parliament last week, especially with the proposal for second-round balloting.
That, she claimed, was not in the People’s Partnership manifesto, the main consultations around the country or in the commission’s final report. Hodge asked Ramlogan: “Were we ‘handsomely paid’ Mr AG for us to be silent on this kind of dishonesty?”
Abdulah said: “We deprecate the attack on her, both a personal attack as well as an attack on her integrity and her character by the Attorney General.
“His statement, for example, that Ms Hodge ought not to say anything because she was handsomely paid is a disgusting remark and we condemn it outright.” He said: “We are absolutely sure that Ms Hodge has taken a position as she has seen it in her conscience and in the national interest where she puts country before all else and we defend her unequivocally.”
Abdulah again called for the Congress of the People (COP) not to support the bill as it would mean more political power given to two main parties he said. He also asked the two members of the Tobago Organisation of the People in Parliament not to support it either.
The MSJ leader said the party will host two public-education forums—one tomorrow in Port of Spain and the other in San Fernando on Wednesday.
The purpose of the forums was to inform the public on what effect the amended bill would have on their constitutional rights. Abdulah said attorneys Ramesh Lawrence-Maharaj and Mickela Panday will be the two main speakers for the forum on Wednesday. He also said it was yet to be decided whether the party will join other groups to protest against the constitutional changes outside Parliament in Port of Spain today.