September 23, 2015
Newsday – newsday.co.tt
ATTORNEY Mickela Panday, daughter of former prime minister and UNC leader Basdeo Panday yesterday at an OWTU post-election forum said the citizens of this nation, who wielded power for 24 hours on General Election day, are powerless now that the election is over and a winner declared.
Speaking at OWTU head quarters in Circular Road, San Fernando, Panday said the nation is effectively at the mercy of the new government following the conclusion of the General Election, which ushered the then Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) into Government and consigned the then People’s Partnership into Opposition.
Panday affirmed that the constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, does not contain any mechanism to ensure that the government does not become tyrannical during its five-year tenure in office.
She concluded that while in paper, Trinidad and Tobago is a representative democracy, in practice, it is not. “Exactly two weeks ago, 734,985 persons voted in our country’s General Election. That is a 66.86 percent voter turnout. The result being a change in government with 23 seats going to the People’s National Movement, 17 seats going to the UNC and one seat going to the Congress of the People.
“So now that there has been a changing of the guard, what does this mean for us, the citizenry of our beloved Trinidad and Tobago? Ladies and gentlemen, whether you are a supporter of the corrupt government, or a supporter of our country’s previous government, as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, you cannot help but be weary of the facts as history has shown, time and time and time again, we have once again returned to the status quo where the people of Trinidad and Tobago are powerless now that the polls are closed,” Panday said.
“So do we have anything to worry about? And if the answer is in the affirmative, what can we do about it? Let me begin by saying on the onset, the answer does not lie, in whether or not we dislike the current government, nor whether they are more competent or capable to run our nation’s affairs…, but where the new guard has the political will to truly empower the people for more than one day every five years by genuinely involving them in the decision making process.
“You see, ladies and gentlemen, once the country tries to return to some sense of normalcy after a three-month long election campaign, the population finds itself yet again hoping and praying for real change that will see a movement away from nepotism, favouritism, discrimination, unbridled corruption, wanton wastage and narcissism. A verbal promise given to us by the new regime, that we should never have the misfortune of ever witnessing or experiencing anything of its kind, during their tenure,” the former MP said.
“But what guarantee do we have that this government or the next will not fall into the same trap as those who have come before it. Unfortunately ladies and gentlemen, the answer is none, because under our constitution as it exists today, as we have said time and time again, there is no mechanism to monitor or control the government of the day once it is elected into office.