Analyst: Political collaboration needed on crime surge

Dr Bishnu Ragoonath  -
Dr Bishnu Ragoonath -

POLITICAL analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath agreed with President Christine Kangaloo's call for the Government and Opposition to work together to try to curb crime, and urged the inclusion of a third group, the independent senators.

Newsday asked if he saw either side likely to be able to give some leeway towards reaching a consensus to act against crime, and what stumbling blocks needed to be overcome. He replied, "My personal view on that is yes, we need to have bipartisan agreement and moving it forward.

"But I go beyond the bipartisan, in fact, and I recall that the last bail bill failed when (some of) the independent senators refused to take it through.

"So it's become greater than bipartisan, PNM, UNC. It is now one where we have to have a common national agenda."

The Bail (Amendment)(Extension of Duration) Bill failed in the Senate on July 6, 2022, when only three independent senators backed it with the government senators.

The bill proposed a year's extension to a three-year sunset clause in a 2019 bill denying bail to a suspect in a serious crime with a past conviction for a serious offence.

Ragoonath alleged a lack of respect by both political parties. He chided the Prime Minister's remarks to reporters on Monday as being sceptical of the Opposition.

"We heard the PM saying yesterday something to the effect that the Opposition is not to support it, without even attempting to talk to the Opposition.

"He has already adopted a stance."

Ragoonath said this was a continuation of Rowley saying the Opposition brings nothing to the table.

"Without that bipartisan support we will continue going around in circles.

"We need to get the Government and Opposition together for Parliament to pass good legislation."

Ragoonath viewed the PM as having "shut off" his mind to the Opposition.

He reiterated the need for Government and Opposition to get together.

"The Parliament is there to make good laws, and not to simply pass laws for the sake of passing laws. We need to ensure good law is passed."

He said all benches in Parliament should sit down together on this matter.

Ragoonath then referred to Kangaloo's call for a UK-style Public Bills Committee to examine bills. in addition to MPs debating them.

"Probably that's why the President would have suggested the approach to have committees meet before the finalisation of bills. Maybe that was her intention."

He said the partisan approach to parliamentary democracy "was not serving TT."

Last July, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar welcomed the collapse of the Bail Bill, saying its three years of existence had shown no proof of cutting crime.

"The bail bill presented by the Government did nothing to curb crime and, instead, breached multiple sections of the Constitution that guarantee and safeguard the fundamental rights of all citizens. Meanwhile, crime continues to rise to unprecedented levels with triple and quadruple killings now occurring overnight.

"The only solution to the nation's runaway crime wave is the complete removal of this failed Keith Rowley PNM government."


"Analyst: Political collaboration needed on crime surge"

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