PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he was cautious about “embracing” the Opposition on reforming the process to appoint a commissioner of police as he was not going to “embrace a porcupine.”
He was contributing to debate in Parliament yesterday on a notification to appoint Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams as commissioner of police.
He said Opposition colleagues had called engagement on the process and this reminded of the poem about the spider and the fly.
“Will you come into my parlour?”
He recalled Opposition members were part of a Joint Select Committee and signed a report and then repudiated it in Parliament.
“I am not embracing a porcupine.”
Rowley questioned whether the Opposition was showing love or “smartmanism” and he had to be wary of their commitment.
“Because there are many examples where they’ve invited and they took advantage of the situation.”
He said while Naparima MP Rodney Charles in his contribution blamed ministerial leadership and not the police for the failure of the Police Service.
“So I presume that it was ministerial leadership when you all were in government while crime was rampant in this country and caused a State of Emergency? And you think is ministerial leadership so you change (national security ministers) like you changing clothes.”
Rowley said regardless of who was in Cabinet there were issues in the Police Service with people acting two and three levels above and the promotion system being stalled because the commissioner was acting.
He said the Opposition was asking Government to not follow the law but, as he made clear in the previous debate, the Government did not agree with that. He added any short cuts the Government took could create opportunities for legal action and millions in costs.
He said Government wanted to deal with the issue with despatch while the Opposition wanted it to be left to languish until the vacation period was finished.
“We want a commissioner in place as soon as possible.”
He read from a letter from Opposition Senator Wade Mark that he would be unable to attend any future meetings of the Joint Select Committee during the recess period. “That is the view of the Opposition members.”
He said Government felt the matter of the appointment of a commissioner of police was sufficiently important to come out to advance the process.
Rowley stressed the law said the nominees had to be sent one by one and debated day by the day and asked why the Opposition was taking issue with this.
“If you too busy go and do what you have to do. We will come here and that’s how it’s going to be.”
He said the Opposition logic was the sitting yesterday was costing taxpayers $400,000.
“Whether I had come here today, whether I had gone to my office in Diego Martin or gone to my office in St Clair or gone to the beach in Pigeon Point taxpayers would have paid me the same fee at the end of this. So what is this story?”