Will Trinidad and Tobago's new President, Anthony Carmona, be bullied into carrying out the whims and fancies of the Government which was responsible for his presidential ascendancy?
This was one of the points raised in yesterday's TV6 panel discussion with political analyst Derek Ramsamooj and PNM founding member Ferdie Ferreira, hosted by journalist Marlan Hopkinson.
Ferreira said that issue was chief of his concerns—the extent to which the elected Government led by the Prime Minister would permit the President, constitutionally or otherwise, to perform his functions.
"My own experience, recorded and unrecorded, is that almost every government has made an attempt at one time or the other to bully the President," said Ferreira.
"People are expecting him (Carmona) to be like Mootilal Moonan, to move mountains, there are great expectations out there about Justice Carmona and he comes into office with tremendous support."
Ferreira said Carmona faces a major challenge.
"The President is coming in at a time when his predecessor is going out a victim of humiliation, a man who has been described by a member of Government that is receiving the new President as a puppet."
He said there was now an "atmosphere of humiliation" with respect to the President's office and there were high expectations from the people on the way forward.
Ferreira said prayers are needed for two people—Carmona and newly-elected Pope Francis I.
Pope Francis I, he said, "comes in to take over the papacy at a time when it is under intense scrutiny".
Ferreira said Carmona is also coming into office "when the country is under scrutiny locally and internationally".
Ramsamooj said Carmona will be put to the test during his tenure.
"The question is...can this President withstand any form of political manipulation in the interest of the people because that is what it's going to come down to.
"Can this President do what is in the interest of the people, which may not necessarily serve the political agenda of an incumbent Government," Ramsamooj added.
He said the public will now be looking to Carmona to guide the society.
Ramsamooj said this country was one that was evolving and there were different functions of the arms of the State and how they operate to meet the needs of the society.
He noted that there were different challenges between the political leadership and the head of State.
"It comes down to the whole issue of governance, what are the arrangements of governance in the State apparatus?"
Ramsamooj said Carmona is man of high integrity and he will face challenges "with how he manoeuvres within the existing Constitution to bring about a better structure of governance while incrementally allowing for certain types of legislative changes".
He noted that there are many issues on the table, such as constitutional reform, campaign financing, Local Government reform and reform of the public sector.
Carmona, he said, would be expected to give some guidance to bring about a better governance structure for the country.
"We need to have leadership that can manage certain types of perceived conflict and if the society has to evolve we need a President, we need leaders who can manage the affairs of the country," said Ramsamooj.