LEGAL LAUGH: Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, right, cracks up during a light-hearted
conversation with Chief Justice Ivor Archie, left, and president of the Industrial Court, Deborah Thomas-Felix, during the opening of the Industrial Court’s new Law Term at its St Vincent Street,
Port of Spain, offices yesterday. See Page 7. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK
Ramlogan not bowing to ‘PNM pressure’ to resign
Keino Swamber email@example.com
HOURS before the expiration of the deadline set by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley for Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to fire Attorney General Anand Ramlogan by today, Ramlogan yesterday expressed confidence that he would survive the Section 34 fiasco.
Ramlogan told reporters at the opening of the Industrial Court’s Law Term that he was not worried by Rowley’s call for him (Ramlogan) to suffer the same fate as former minister of justice Herbert Volney, who was relieved of his ministerial duties on Thursday last.
On Sunday, as he addressed People’s National Movement (PNM) supporters at the party’s Arima Constituency 43rd Annual Conference at the Arima Town Hall, Rowley asked citizens to “stand by for further action” if by today Ramlogan was still the Attorney General.
Asked if he was willing to tender his resignation if public pressure was put on him to do so, Ramlogan said one must distinguish between PNM pressure and public pressure.
“The PNM is fighting for political survival and is seeing an opportunity,” Ramlogan said.
“We are happy because that is something that is vital to a functioning, healthy democratic society. We believe we are still in search of a strong and credible Opposition that would be able to assist us in the law-making process and the governance systems of the country. I am not perturbed, I am not worried, I am very comfortable about that,” he added.
Asked by the Express if Persad-Bissessar bowed to PNM pressure when she fired Volney from the Cabinet, Ramlogan said “absolutely not”.
He said Persad-Bissessar only acted after carefully investigating the circumstances which led to the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011, which was subsequently repealed.
“It is to her credit as a political leader and Prime Minister that she did not allow herself to be pushed, bullied or rushed. Dr Rowley has a history of bullying and behaving in a manner that his own prime minister described as wajang and hooligan. Such political hooliganism and wajang behaviour will not be tolerated by the People’s Partnership,” he said.
Ramlogan said he believes Rowley is trying to cement his position as the political leader of a party that has three factions —namely the Colm Imbert faction, the Rowley faction and the Patrick Manning faction.
“So what you really have is a coalition Opposition that is trying to unite itself so that they can present itself as a credible alternative to the Government. That is not going to work. Cries for early elections are perhaps nostalgic because of his own experience under his own party where they twice called early elections, destabilised the country and lost on both counts,” Ramlogan said.
Ramlogan was asked to comment on concerns being raised about the Prime Minister’s timeline of events which exonerated him from any involvement in having Section 34 proclaimed ahead of the rest of the bill.
In her address to the nation on Thursday, Persad-Bissessar said Volney, on August 6, tabled a note before Cabinet seeking approval for the early proclamation of Section 34. She said she spoke with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) who confirmed that Ramlogan did not participate in the process of having the Section proclaimed.
Ramlogan, the Prime Minister said, was away on vacation during the period July 20 to August 4.
“I don’t think that the Prime Minister’s statement ever said that I wasn’t present at the Cabinet meeting,” Ramlogan said.
“The point is at the Cabinet meeting you have the individual responsibility of the minister, which she stressed, who would have given the advice to Cabinet and, based on representations and assurances that were given to the effect that the Chief Justice had approved of the proclamation and the timeline, it was on that basis Cabinet acted.
“I would like to say although the Attorney General is the legal adviser to the Cabinet, bear in mind that there are two branches of law. There is a civil branch and a criminal branch and no lawyer should present themselves as an expert in every area of the law. In the last four to five attorneys general, we have not had an Attorney General from the Criminal Bar. Bridgid Annisette-George, John Jeremie, Glenda Morean, myself, we all came from the Civil Bar.
“I make the point because although the Attorney General is the legal adviser to the Cabinet, when we created the Ministry of Justice the criminal portfolio was assigned to that ministry and the gazetted allocation of ministerial responsibility placed criminal legislation and the reform of the criminal justice system under that particular ministry,” Ramlogan said.