Panday: Chaos, confusion will reign without constitutional, political change

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Basdeo Panday –

FORMER Prime Minister Basdeo Panday said unless there are political and constitutional changes, the chaotic situation that occurred in the Parliament during the motion to impeach the President on Thursday, would be repeated.

Panday described the disorder that occurred when the Electoral College gathered to decide the fate of President Paula-Mae Weekes as a reflection of the chaos in the country.

“It is no different. There would always be chaos unless we can change our political system and hopefully do so peacefully.”

Panday observed that around the world people desperate for peaceful change often resort to violence to bring about the desired changes and warned against this resistance.

“I pray to God that doesn’t have to be the case in TT,” Panday said as he commented on the defeat of a motion brought by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar under Section 36 of the Constitution to impeach the President over circumstances surrounding the appointment of a substantive commissioner of police (CoP).

The motion was defeated with 24 and 47 votes against.

Panday said the confusion which was played out in public over the interpretation of clauses in the Constitution under which the motion was filed and ruling of Speaker Bridgid Anisette-George, proves the point he has been making for 20 and more years.

“That is to say, we keep blaming people when the real problem is the system of Government. As long as we keep this system of Government we would keep focusing on the wrong thing – which is people.

“People are behaving the way they are behaving because of the present political system. Unless we change it they will continue behaving like this.”

Panday who is no longer involved in active politics, observed, “What we keep doing is looking for someone to blame.”

He asked, “Do we blame the President, do we blame the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker? Who do we blame?”

He said the difference of opinion on whether there should have be a debate on the motion as advanced by the Opposition or just a vote as espoused by Government is a moot point in this circumstance.

“In any case, tell me something, if they (Opposition) had spoken and if there was a vote don’t we know the result already. Then I come back to my original point – constitutional change.”

“The problems is they are acting under a Constitution and a political system that is not quite suited to us. And no matter who we have there, we would continue to be in the mess we are in.”

He said, “Unless we change the political system, we’ll keep repeating this kind of wastage of our energy.”

Asked what he can do, apart from using his voice, to bring about the changes required at this time in the nation’s history, Panday reminded that is the remit of the Parliament.

“The Constitution and political system can only be changed by the Parliament and neither parties in the Parliament want to change.

“I will keep calling and calling on those responsible – Government and the Opposition – to institute a change in the Constitution and the political system. They ought not to be the perpetrators for the destruction of TT.”