IT was "unfortunate and unnecessary for the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to take "public issue with President George Maxwell Richards and try to correct him" for making a statement that the steel pan was the only innovation from this country, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday.
He was speaking to reporters following yesterday's opening ceremony of Parliament.
Rowley said the President was quite correct in saying that the steelpan was the only innovation in our life as a nation.
"The Prime Minister corrects him and says 'No, we have cultural diversity and harmony'."
"We didn't invent harmony. We didn't invent cultural diversity. We invented the steel pan. So I don't know what the Prime Minister was thinking," Rowley said.
"And I thought her statements were quite unnecessary and uncalled for," he added.
On the President's statements that Parliament was not a place for opportunity, but for serving the people, Rowley said it was a nice presidential way of saying that corruption ought to have no place in the conduct of public business.
He said it was generally felt that many of the persons who have come into office particularly in the government and their friends, see office as opportunity to enrich themselves.
On the President's statements on the use of the armed forces, Rowley said: "That was the presidential way of responding to the recent developments as Commander-in-Chief, seeing the army mobilised by a politician in the way it was".
Rowley said right-thinking persons saw it as wrong and "today we have been cautioned by the Commander-in-Chief. That was a presidential caution".
On the President's statements about the need for the preservation of the independence of the Service Commissions, Rowley said the Executive had been usurping the rights of the independent Commissions and the President simply referred to it as a constitutional safeguard that should be recognised and preserved.
He cited the appointment of a head of the Financial Intelligence Services, and alleged use of the veto by the Executive to override the independence of the Public Service Commission.
"Any President would have noticed these things...and the Office of the President is required to caution and can act. When moral and spiritual values were in short supply, a President did act," Rowley stated.
He said the President cautions all Parliamentarians, except the Government, to not play fast and loose with the institutions and the issues of morality in public issues and with the country's money in particular.
On the issue of the crushing of turtle eggs, Rowley said the Prime Minister stated that the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources had landed on its feet.
"It landed on its feet in Grand Riviere and killed thousands of turtles. It is a good thing it didn't land on its back or on its head".
Rowley also stated that he had a problem with the posture of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) which is supposed to be the agency to protect any endangered species and the environment.
"The EMA has turned out to be the biggest apologist for a botched job," he said.
"Now we are being told that the turtles would not have survived anyway and therefore the tractors did not kill them. Come on! I don't know how an environmental agency charged with the protection of the environment would give itself a role as excuse-maker when something goes wrong. Something went wrong and we must acknowledge that," Rowley declared.