Griffith: President missed a golden opportunity

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

President Paula-Mae Weekes –

NATIONAL Transformation Alliance (NTA) political leader and former commissioner of police (CoP) Gary Griffith on Monday criticised outgoing President Paula-Mae Weekes final address to the nation.

In her New Year’s message on Sunday, Weekes lamented that people seem to have descended into savagery on many levels.

“No longer do we seem to be able to have differences of opinion without descending into vicious no-holds-barred attacks on the individual rather than a debate or discussion on the issues.”

Courtesy, goodwill, civility, decency and respect seem to be disappearing as TT is fast becoming a brutish and hostile society, the President said..

Weekes added, “I wish and pray for a quick return to graciousness; to giving people a fair hearing and a carefully considered response instead of a rush to judgment.”

The Electoral College meets in the Red House on January 20, to elect a new President.

Griffith said on Monday, “It is indeed unfortunate that Paula-Mae Weekes lost a golden opportunity, and instead would be remembered for all the wrong reasons, especially for being at the centre of the biggest controversy in a decade.”

He referred to Weekes being President during the events which led to the collapse of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and failure to send a merit list of CoP candidates to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Griffith claimed that in every speech she made as President, Weekes “pontificated, criticised and scolded citizens.” He said this did little for the nation or for her to be remembered in a positive manner.

“It is indeed a post that can do so much to build and unite our country.”

Griffith hoped that whoever succeeds Weekes, “simply operates in a manner of statesmanship, adheres to the law, and does not look down on those they are obligated to serve.”

He said that until the Constitution is radically changed, the post of President “will remain one that is, or is perceived to be totally political, and will continue to be seen as a rubber stamp post, since that person is appointed simply and solely by the decision of one man or woman, who is the Prime Minister at the time. “

Griffith said the prime minister chooses whoever he or she wants with Government MPs, who are always in the majority, voting along the PM’s wishes.

Griffith said this causes whoever is elected President “to believe they are beholden to the person who selected them.”

“In fact, the prime minister can decide to demit office and nominate and then appoint himself as President, and direct his remaining MPs to vote for him, and just have a byelection for his vacant MP’s seat.”

Griffith said this was not right or democratic.

“This has to be a post that is there to ensure checks and balances are in place to prevent anarchy.”

Griffith dismissed a newspaper report in which Dr Rowley said he does not want to be President, the government’s nominee would not be an active politician, may not be either a former judge or member of the legal fraternity, and that Weekes had served well as President.

On the latter, Griffith said, “His (Rowley) perception of serving well is basically making sure there is somebody who is a ‘yes’ person who will adhere to every single order given.”