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Daly Bread: Minding the gap; why President Weekes is off to a commendable start

Reliable sources have confirmed that a minister who is being re-assigned from one ministry to another is not required to be sworn in consequent upon his re-assignment.

As a result of a mistaken belief that another swearing-in was necessary when Darryl Smith was moved from the Ministry of Sport to the Ministry of Housing, a baseless controversy was raised whether the President of the Republic had refused or objected to swearing in Smith or should do so.

Photo: PLOTT co-founder and chair Gillian Wall.

Nonetheless, certain commentators and relentless attention seekers, taken in by the belief that the President had the power so to refuse or object, rushed to send opinions founded on false premises scudding across the media.

The President can clearly take care of herself, as is evident from the stern rebuke she delivered in answer to the misrepresentation of her powers. She may be also receiving sound advice enabling her to avoid the overreach of acting “large and in charge.”

There is something else that is evident from erroneously running to the President to “fix” things and right wrongs and I describe it as follows.

Party politics is bankrupt and has long ago moved away from any intention to seek the ideal of “the greatest good for the greatest number.” With a few exceptions, satisfying greed and the lust for perceived status is the predominant output of political life in Trinidad and Tobago.

Photo: President Paula-Mae Weekes at her inauguration ceremony on 19 March 2018.
(Courtesy Office of the President)

We have deviated from maintaining high public standards. We have made rear-kissing in order to get into the VVIP enclosure into a science. As such, lamentable practices have pervaded the upper reaches of the society and objective justice and fairness have become unattainable by the ordinary citizen.

Not many persons remain of the view that I was gloomy and negative when, persistently for two decades, I accurately predicted how far we would descend if we let those in high office do as they please while we silently assisted in gobbling up the spoils of election victories.

Just in case there are a few residual doubters, let me commend Ramesh Deosaran’s description of the failure of our practice of politics in a recent column in the Newsday.

He noted that we operate a Westminster system enriched by the entrenchment of fundamental rights and freedoms with a Canadian-type Bill of Rights in our Constitution. He then firmly stated:

“But within this, there are lots of spaces which depend on personal integrity, trust, self-respect and shame. Such spaces have instead been greedily exploited, even legally so, turning due process privileges into an economic battle between the poor and rich with justice as an acceptable casualty. It isn’t just knowing right from wrong. It is the practice and, forgive me, the hypocrisy between.”

Photo: Then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) shakes hands with her successor, Dr Keith Rowley, en route to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa.
(Courtesy News.Gov.TT)

It is in this decayed situation, self-inflicted as it is, that we desperately expect the President of the Republic—the largely non-executive but official Head of State—to get justice and fairness for us.

Fortunately, in her early pronouncements President Weekes is minding the gap between her limited constitutional powers and our decayed reality. She is not taking basket either from well-meaning concerned citizens or from those whom a female friend of mine brutally described as “speaking from a platform of self-exalted ignorance.”

Gender is relevant in assessing the value of that brutal description because my friend is vexed that some of those setting traps for the President are female too.

I am happy that in an area where the President does have constitutional power to act in her own discretion, she has apparently seen the danger in having “a co-ordinator” speak on behalf of all the Independent Senators by publicly declining to have “a one-on-one meeting” with such a personage.

Photo: Independent Senator Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir.
(Courtesy Power 102 FM)

The Independent Senators are not a caucus or group put in the Senate to act as a collective. They are not supposed to clot into a mass like the cream requested for the tea menu at the recent meeting of the Independent Bench with President Weekes.

Did some of us miss a moment of presidential satire? When she disclosed the tea menu request, I thought instantly of G Ramsay Muir, the colonial aspirant in Naipaul’s Mystic Masseur.

Editor’s note: Today’s Sunday Guardian reports that “Dhanayshar tenders resignation to Pres.”  Gail Alexander’s story on Page 14 quotes Senator Mahabir as saying that he wanted “to free Her Excellency’s hand to discharge her functions under the Constitution.”

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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5 comments

  1. That’s why she was chosen to be our President. Set her presidence early o’clock. Far cry from the last one. You go Madame President.

  2. We have finally gotten a Lady with a level thinking head Precious Lord just cover her with your Precious Blood

  3. Woman is reallly Boss finally…a President with some Teeth

  4. All them bats zandolie hooligan leave her alone let her do her work doh boder her amen

  5. Strong and independent thinker