All hail king Carmona

By Suzanne Mills
August 09, 2013 –

President Anthony CarmonaI’m beginning to believe that President Anthony Carmona thinks he is still a judge, that Trinidad and Tobago is his courtroom and that we are all before him on a charge.

“Madam,” he chided Opposition Whip, Marlene McDonald last Friday as he addressed the opening of Parliament, “I am speaking about conduct!”

“Madam, I am speaking to everyone!” he rebuked her once more as he lectured on about the importance of proper parliamentary conduct, the need for civility, dignity and decorum in Parliament. It was as if he were sitting on the bench, handing down a judgment to parliamentarians and as in a courtroom expected those to whom he was speaking to remain mute. He spoke to her as if she were an accused or one of the children with whom he is regularly photographed?

Why did he not continue his sermon without stopping to reprimand McDonald? McDonald was obliged to clarify that she meant him no disrespect, but was merely making approving sounds. She also explained that when he said that the parliament was no place for theatrics, the Prime Minister pointed at her and then she pointed at Government Whip, Roodal Moonilal, as if to say that he was the one who engaged in theatrics. Where was the disrespect there? And what if McDonald did disagree with him? What if someone had rightly booed when he said that for far too long we have the same faces with the same old philosophies and tired ideas? Would he have had this MP escorted out by the police and carted off to jail?

His comment was an insult to sitting and long serving MPs and to the people who elected them. He on the other hand has not faced the electorate, but was handed his job by these “recycled plastic bottles”, language most unbecoming of a President? Was his selection a tired idea?

McDonald hit the nail on the head when she said that the President must understand the cut and thrust of Parliament. The Westminster system divides the House down the middle and MPs face off as adversaries. Clearly Carmona has never watched sessions of the British parliament (from which we inherited our system) where MPs regularly shout across the floor at each other. Nor does he understand that Parliament is at times by its very nature a theatre.

Criticism must be constructive, he said, a cliché that does not take into consideration that at times criticism must be destructive. What if the Prime Minister were becoming a Hitler? Must MPs on the Opposition benches seek to construct or destruct? In order to build, one must often break down.

There is no doubt that MPs waste time and will oppose for the sake of opposing or that they may seek the party’s interest. However, on many occasions they do co-operate on matters that promote the development, security and upliftment of the society. Recently, both sides worked in harmony on the Dog Control Act and on several occasions Government has accepted recommendations or amendments of the Opposition. However, Carmona did not care to note that there was no consensus, no delicate balance with regard to his appointment.

He said he saw a need to retool the composition of the Independent senatorial bench, as he had observed for years the gaps in that composition. “Where were the detractors in the last three years, when there was no energy expert on the Independent bench, no person who is differently abled, no internationally recognised expert and academic in finance? Where were your men and women of letters?” he questioned, yet at the same time, he observed that university education does not make one honourable and two of the four new senators have a background in law and one a background in oil and gas when we should be exploring green energy.

When he was finished his “retooling” he left the independent bench with only one woman, Helen Drayton. What sector does she represent? Women? Women are not a sector. And why pick on four independents who have served on the bench? Why those four? He has embarrassed them after they have given their best.

This is a president who is consumed by his own power. In his first address he referred to his powers and in this one again the nation had to listen to him crow about what he can do. For example, he spoke of his requirement to act in his own discretion in the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition. He may, he said, in his own judgment seek the counsel of anyone who could be of assistance, but he may also choose not to consult with anyone at all. Section 83 (2) of the Constitution states that the President shall, if the person concerned is willing to be appointed, appoint as Leader of the Opposition the member of the House of Representatives who, in his judgment, is best able to command the support of the greatest number of members of the House of Representatives who do not support the Government.

However, does this mean that the President intends to ignore the person that MPs choose to be Opposition Leader, as is the custom? So that if they say that Dr Keith Rowley commands their support, he can select someone else? Is this democracy at work? He also said he could question the legality of some Cabinet decisions, suggesting that he was not bound by these, could issue advice, his office possessing a delay power. His interpretation of the Westminster system is that there must be a delicate balance of power, exercised with care, but he seems to see no need for a delicate balance when it pertains to his office.

“I will not be budged from engaging progressive change nor will I be bullied by those who cannot cope with that change,” he warned. Those are the words of a man who assumes that change brought about by him is always progressive. Who is trying to bully him? Is it bullying or constructive criticism to disagree with him?

Many have hailed this President’s speech but they need to take a deeper look at its constitutional implications. It was a moralistic tongue lashing in which he made it patently clear that he has no regard or respect for the elected representatives of the people or the way they have been conducting the business of the Parliament. He found fault with everything, sought to establish the topic of debate for the local election, his tone that of a superior. In office for mere months, this President assumes that he above all, knows what is best for the nation.


5 thoughts on “All hail king Carmona”

  1. The speech by the President was very much needed, as our society from the top to the bottom needed to be hoarded in and brought in line. Whilst crime rate is bursting at the seams once again; imposing on us a state of paralysis, some leaders are sitting in parliament making laws for us whilst bursting with fat from the spoils of the treasury as their members wither away through deprivation and abandonment. It is my opinion JAW knows how to separate issues and is like a hot knife carving his way through butter doing what is required to bring the population at the table to dialogue seriously. Carmona and Warner are on the right track.

  2. Way to go Suzanne. While everyone is talking about recall, could the President be recalled??

  3. I did not read, listen to or see the President’s speech but from all that i have read and heard about it, there is an impression that it was an adult conversation with a lecture by the commander in chief to a parliament that is for the most part school-boyish and “dolly house”(isn). Given the comments by most columnists I think that it is more than time to have an adult lecture to the ‘children’ of the lower and upper house how to carry on the business of the people in a civilized and businesslike manner. To this I say HOORAY to the President, er- Sergeant at arms, er Speaker of the house, er president of the senate. To date he is the only representative of the people to let those clowns carrying titles like ‘speaker’, ‘president’, MP, representative et al know that the people appreciates when they behaves like ladies and gentlemen. Then and only then the word ‘honourable’ can be used to reflect the presence (in parliament) of the representative of the people.

  4. Every action by anyone can be viewed positively or negatively. Ms. Mills saw the negative side to the president’s speech. I want to focus on the positive. To me, the most positive idea was starting Parliament at 8.00 a.m. Why start working on the people’s business after lunch when MPs are sleepy? And why continue into the wee hours of the morning? Our business is important. We need MPs who are awake and alert during Parliamentary sessions so that clear thing and good decisions can be made. Besides this, most working people begin work in the morning. There is no reason why MPs should be an exception. They are representing us, working for us. I say, therefore, like others who serve us, begin in the am to do our business.

  5. You know folks , the wisest woman that ever lived, in my late , Tobago ,Grand mother , would often say to me ,a then young whippersnapper , many moons ago ,that ” great talkers , are less doers.”
    Just maybe ,Sister Mills is correct, as she too chided the suddenly loquacious President Cammy , as he embark on this feel good , escapist mantras , which to cynics will do no more , but enhance the political cause of those ever grateful political elements ,that got him his job.
    Former PP Minister ,Auntie Verna St Rose ,a lifetime , national Social activist- who was unceremoniously dumped by her luving female boss ,Queen K-might be quietly thinking – Mr President , when would you lash out on AG Rammy , who comically want to see Tom, Dick , and Robert, extradited , but not UNC party hacks financiers / white color bandits ,such as Ish , Steve , or even Bridgelal, if he eventually emerge from … Wherever?
    Hey Señor Presidente , when would low cast girls in certain enclaves ,that look like your wife , get the justice they deserve, as many are subjected to rapes, incest, and similar acts of abuses from family members , but powers that be – from religious leaders, to law enforcement officials, civic leaders ,or worst yet , conniving media entities -won’t address such ,since it would upset members of the clan?
    We see Ag Rammy is likewise pontificating about books , Eric Williams , and our nation’s kids school bags , but when would little kids , that are subjected to poisoning , and similar acts of neo tribal savagery , see real / concrete action against the perpetrators , who maim , and hurt them in certain well known , yet unmentionable enclaves , where to even whisper about certain crimes is a taboo?,182655.html

    Just when would we see a land reform project in our country , that would seek to ensure that some kids parents from the East West – Brazilianlike Favellas-corridor , get a piece of state lands , now that Caroni , is dead?
    I know , there is deep concerns for gerrymandering within the enclaves ,which would make that a foolhardy / suicidal proposition, so let more ‘feel good, corporate media jig & dance / Tasha whine/Limbo dancing continue , towards the young ones , incapable of voting , eh Cuz Rammy?

    There is nothing more disgusting , in my opinion , as the penchant by public officials ,to only be selectively outrage about some issues, especially as it relate’s to T&T.We luv us some point fortin , and such , but just where is the equivalent of an Afro Trini Dr Kablasingh ,who can address similar environmental degradation , one might enquire?
    While we are on the subject , let me add my two cents , and ask our ceremonial President :- Hey Mr President , would Antie K , or any of our present ,potential future Prime Ministers ,push legislations, that would ensure our national Presidential position, move beyond that of what it is today , and so given more powers, and even elevated status , to that of an independent ,elected office, as is the case in Guyana?
    As a long time member of the bench , aren’t you disgusted at the fact that the top echelon members this present ,and well known past regime, are so enarmored by a backward , costly , anachronistic British legal system ,called the Privy System , where chiefly White,Simi senile , yet conniving legal luminaries , are deciding matters of great relevance ,relating to T&T laws?
    Don’t you think that Trinis are looking like idiots across the globe , as we house the costly CCJ in it’s lofty Charlotte St location, are paying the highest bill for it’s upkeep, and yet is not a full member- all because certain folks ,wrongfully think ,that members of de tribe ,won’t get justice?

    Is it simply political naivity , or do you Mr President , really think that folks who could treat a political benefactor such as Jack Warner ,with such utters contempt , after all that he did for them in their rush to power, can really , really adore you still , if one day you too develop the audacity , to stand up , and be your own man?
    ‘Me think ‘not , but I wish you well, to that end. Enough of this my pro nation observation (some might say rant ),so long live the Republic of T&T, and may we find a special tea , that can be fed to our youths ,to turn them into full blown ,Trini patriots ,and not mere ,convenient , country adorers , when they find themselves in the socio- economic – com political drivers seat/ affairs on the national stage , suit their personal fancies.
    Luv humanity people , and for ‘AfrobuddahSunGod’ sake , forget de tribe,Si?

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