His Excellency’s Chairman: Who wrote Articles 161-162?

-aftermath of a mini-bus mugging

Regular fans of this twenty-five year old man-in-the-street column have long appreciated that I know when not to enter debates about complex issues tending to be above my head and intellectual level. The recent Appeal Court decision regarding the correctness and legality of the appointment of His Excellency’s GECOM Chairman Patterson is one such matter. The learned Appeal Court Justices all found that His Excellency was within his constitutional right to select his chairman in the manner he – His Excellency- did.

Obviously, I – poor me – am certainly not versed in Criminal, Civil or Constitutional law. And – despite the opinion of a few – I’m no PPP/Jagdeo/Ramotar man. But, exercising my own constitutional right of free reasonable wholesome expression, I record boldly that I disagree with and regret the Appeal Court decision. Why!? Essentially because even my limited intellect knows that the constitution – its writers of that section – cries out for consensus. In that Article 161 (2) it is obvious, even to the intelligent layman, the intent, even the so-called “spirit”, is to ensure that the representative of the Opposition’s thousands of supporters contributes effectively to the choice of National Elections Chairman.

Now three local judicial minds have determined that His Excellency’s manoeuvres were proper and legal and his unilateral choice must stand. I don’t approve of the language the disappointed Dr Jagdeo used in the wake of the Appeal Court’s decision. I instead can tolerate Mr. Nandlall’s views and do really agree with the sentiments of Donald Rabindranath Ramotar who was briefly president. Which brings me now to more Ramotar, even as I was advised that the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) would be reluctant (?) to overturn a unanimous finding by our own local Highest Court(?).

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Who wrote the Article? Relevant?

In his passionate repudiation of the Appeal Court decision (SN Mon. Oct 22, 2018) Donald Ramotar answered, partially, a question I have been asking before and after the three Justices’ decision. My question is, of course, basically hypothetical. And being under-educated in such lofty issues my wonderment might even be regarded as naïve, ingenuous.

My question? If the constitutional writers who penned in Article 161 (2) in the current constitution were alive and available, would it be proper or desirable for them to inform His Excellency, the Courts and the world – just what they meant? The only interpretation?

Some knowledgeable minds have since “advised” me that “it doesn’t work like that.” Once Constitutions are written and approved (by Parliament) they are what is in them. Open for interpretation – by other minds. Poor me…

But here was Donald Rabindranath Ramotar explaining the Article 161 (2). Because he was involved! Frankly Speaking, he is believable! He was there as a PPP executive when President Carter and Mr Price came up with their GECOM formula. Ramotar reminds that the Oppositionist PNC fully agreed to “constitutionalise” how the Chairman of that commission should be chosen. The Constitution – especially that Article – has not yet been reformed as another expert – Hari Narayen Ralph Ramkarran – former Parliament Speaker and presidential hopeful – is advocating for. Discuss…

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Minibus mugging, implications

This is a kind of Public Service Advisory. Especially for us working-class citizens who use the mini-buses because we are deprived of more friendly alternatives.

A few nights ago, a Stabroek News staffer was choked and robbed in a mini-bus. One bandit “passenger” sat next to him and another behind him in the virtually empty bus. When he announced where he was getting off, the two pounced. He was choked/viced unconscious for a while. The bandits dis-embarked, then he – the victim  was thrown out further on.

At the Kitty Police Station ranks were hardly sympathetic, even sending him to some Prashad Nagar Outpost. Questions: were driver and conductor complicit? Could not the bus be traced? Is this a regular set-up? Does Kitty police have ready transportation? Be careful poor passengers – at nights!

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Ponder – most seriously…

I recently “read-up” numerous expert sources on constitutions. I’ll discuss them simply for my people soon. Dr Fenton Ramsahoye has written: “When the Courts of Appeal are in turn recruited from among those High Court Judges who were nor properly qualified in the first place, the oppression caused to the public is compounded” (1993).

Congrats to Columnist Kissoon on his views on the GECOM Chairman Appeal Court Decision (KN Fri. Oct 19, 2018). Well “reasoned-out”.

Great news after years! The lower East Coast Demerara-to-East Bank by-pass road should be done in time for the 2020 Oil and Jubilee Elections.

Public Service Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine addressed a gathering of international Public Servants at the local Marriott this past Sunday.

Why do I feel that the government will negotiate taking over the bridge? Then find a new private partner later?

No not my Chinese! False rice? False milk? False beef? Never!!

A heart-felt farewell to Winston Bailey – the man from Belmont and Tobago – the Mighty Shadow! (I was privileged to chat and pose with him twice.)

’Til next week!

(allanafenty@yahoo.com)

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