AS the country celebrated 44 years as a Republic on Thursday, political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah has warned leaders against eroding the Republican Constitution by bringing the nation’s institutions into public rancour.
Abdulah said he was uneasy with the recent public spat between the head of the judiciary and subordinates over virtual court hearings, as well as the open conflict between the Prime Minister and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith over the enforcement of covid19 regulations after people were seen at a pool party at Bayside Towers in Cocorite.
“That is one level where our national institutions established by the Republican Constitution, are demonstrating problems. Citizens, therefore, can lose trust, and have lost trust, not just in the office holders but in the very offices which they hold. That is of major concern.”
At a virtual news conference on Thursday, Abdulah said the tug-of-war between Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Justices Frank Seepersad and Carol Gobin demonstrates that not only is there is a breakdown of trust within the judiciary, between the CJ and some members, but it also exacerbates and makes worse the trust that ordinary citizens have in the judiciary.
Abdulah wondered if there is internal disagreement in the judiciary’s management of the covid19 pandemic, how will it adjudicate on matters of public health, relating to government’s management of the virus, if they end up before the court.
“Certainly it raises major problems of trust and confidence in the judiciary.” Abdulah said the MSJ would not pronounce on who is right or wrong.
He said with crisis comes opportunities but, “We in the MSJ are not seeing a lot of hope being offered by the principal leaders of this country and therefore suggest a vision that could give the people of TT hope on this our Republic Day.”
Starting with the October 5 budget, he said this is an opportunity for leadership to emerge or for those already in leadership positions to demonstrate the qualities needed.
He said it is going to be a test for Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Dr Rowley as this budget will either point the way forward or backwards for TT because the economy is in trouble.
“It was in trouble before covid19 and covid made the problems much, much worse so the government has to demonstrate leadership.
“We need leaders who can unite the majority of the people in the country behind a vision and economic and social programme which will take us out of this economic crisis. That is not merely about providing in the budget for more food cards or for support for small businesses. All of those things may be necessary but, fundamentally, how do we transform a broken economic system.
“Oil prices, gas prices have fallen, production has fallen, plants in Point Lisas are closing and have been closed and there is no sign of them being reopened.”
Abdulah suggested, “The fundamental transformation of our old colonial plantation economy is necessary.
“What we need to do is transform it and have new sectors – creative sectors – where we use our creative imagination to drive growth, earning foreign exchange and creating sustainable livelihoods for our people, especially our young people.”