Black Immigrant Daily News
I ACCEPT: President-elect Christine Kangaloo signs the instrument of appointment on Thursday at the Red House Rotunda. Photo by Angelo Marcelle
PRESIDENT-ELECT Christine Kangaloo on Thursday has called on the nation to give her a chance, when asked if she would be impartial as a former politician becoming head of state.
She said many personalities have successfully left politics to hold independent high office.
Kangaloo spoke to reporters in the Red House Rotunda just after receiving her instruments of election from Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George, in the presence of Senate President Nigel de Freitas, following her election last week Friday by the Electoral College.
Kangaloo got 48 votes – equivalent to the tally of Government and Independent members, ahead of the Opposition’s nominee Israel Khan, SC, who got 22 votes, with three ballots being spoilt.
Asked if her election, including with support of all nine Independent Senators had put to rest opposition fears of her possible partisanship, and whether she would act properly in any future constitutional crisis, Kangaloo answered by recalling her leaving party politics upon becoming Senate President in 2015.
“I resigned from participation in the political party, I resigned my membership.
“As the President of the Senate, I have attended no political functions, I’ve taken part in no political activities, I’ve made no political decisions.
“I have received no political instructions. That is how I have been conducting myself for the last seven years.”
Kangaloo said she would not deny being member of a political party and holding different offices at different times in her life.
“But I want to also say that while I held those posts, as as a minister I performed my duties without any partisan interest.
“My very first appointment was as minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for social services delivery.
“As that minister, I would get numerous heart-breaking letters from people disadvantaged in society. I can tell you, without anyone being able to contradict me, I never treated anything on a partisan basis.
“I didn’t look at someone and ask, ‘Well, which political party do you belong to? I can’t assist you.’ That’s not how it works.”
MANY HAVE TRANSITIONED
Kangaloo said many others have successfully transitioned out of politics to independent high office.
“The last thing I want to say as well is that there are many other distinguished people in our society who have been in political parties and transitioned to other areas.
“You have had politicians who moved on to the judiciary. You have had people who ran as candidates in political parties who became independent senators, who became members of service commissions. That transition happened and no one has questioned their credibility.
“So all I ask of the people of Trinidad and Tobago is to give me the opportunity to show you that I can also perform my duties in the way the Constitution expects me to.”
Kangaloo served as Pointe-a-Pierre MP in 2007-2010, taking over from Gillian Lucky who was MP until 2007, before becoming a judge in the High Court and then Appeal Court.
Prof Ramesh Deosaran, former independent senator and former head of the Police Service Commission, had in the 1981 general elections, been the Organisation for National Reconstruction (ONR) candidate for Barataria. He got 4,172 votes but lost to the PNM’s Kamaluddin Mohammed who got 6,113 votes.
Citing propriety, Kangaloo opted to not yet address a question on whether Independent Senators should now resign or complete their terms.
Asked if she could foresee herself ever rejecting a recommendation by the Prime Minister, she replied, “I don’t see how…If look at what I’ve been doing for the last seven years, I think you can judge that I did nothing that can be a challenge to me in that regard.”
Pressed as to how she’d cope with opposition claims that she would be a “yes-person”, Kangaloo replied, “What I said earlier. I asked that I be given the opportunity to show, just as other people have been given an opportunity, I ask people to give me a chance.”
FACE THE MEDIA: President-elect Christine Kangaloo, far left, addresses the media at the Red House Rotunda on Thursday after signing the intruments of appointment. Photo by Angelo Marcelle
Asked about being TT’s second female President, after incumbent Paula-Mae Weekes, and if she had any message to females, Kangaloo said she was very grateful to be elected and is aware of the history of the post.
“I am humbled by that. To all boys and girls, men and women, I say nothing should stand in your way when you aspire to do things in your life. Nothing.
“My achieving this, if someone had asked me when I was a secondary school student, ‘Do you think you’ll be President?’ I think my schoolteachers might have been the first to tell you, no.
“So, I’m really humbled by this appointment.”
‘I WANT TO BE ACCESSIBLE”
Regarding her relations with the media, Kangaloo said she wants to be accessible but at the same time, does not think the President should be in a press conference every week.
“I think there are times to speak and there are times to be quiet. So it will be according to my intuition, and if I may say so, my intuition has guided me over the years.
“So, I intend to be open and accessible, but of course the dictates of propriety and what the office demands, all of that will come into play.”
Asked her message for TT, following recent tough times including the pandemic, rampant crime and high cost of living, in view of a head of State embodying the nation’s aspirations, she said, “I am a Trinidadian…a Trinbagonian. I’ve been here all my life. I’ve lived here. I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else.
“I think we are a very resilient people. Yes, the country has gone through tough times. We see a lot of what is happening in the world. My own life, there have been times when I have had to show resilience.
“So if you wanted me to give you a word right now to embody what I want to represent to the people of TT, it will be, resilience.”
Otherwise, Kangaloo said she would reside at President’s House (something the incumbent has not done) and before that, she will meet with Weekes.
She was unfazed by recent protesters outside the Red House during the Electoral College proceedings, saying that is a part of the democratic process.
Regarding some protesters deliberately mispronouncing her name as kangaroo, she brushed that off by saying her school day experiences meant there are no new taunts anyone could conceive over the family name.