is a CD of Boscoe Holder where he sings to his great friend ‘I poured my
heart into this song. If you don’t like it, please don’t destroy it,
because if you do, you wont just destroy a song, you will be tearing my
heart didn’t go into the Draft Constitution. It’s a point of view, an
attempt to put down ideas into a coherent form. People can knock it about
as they see fit. I may strongly oppose some things in the Draft prepared
by The Principles of Fairness Committee (Tajmool Hosein and Dr Hamid Ghany,)
but it’s well thought out and considered.
will be considerable debate and disagreement on many things in both
drafts. Out of all this I’m hoping will emerge a document that people
will tolerate, or find more or less acceptable.”
I spoke with Sir Ellis about his Draft constitution (which sent alarm
bells clanging in all directions since it proposes an Executive President)
he closed the interview with the above lyrical response.
threw me, I tell you, this 89-year-old luminary, as he deftly diffused my
earnest questioning with talk of songs and hearts.
exchange with Sir Ellis reminded me of a profile on him in The Trinidad
Guardian, written in 1962. (I can truthfully say I wasn’t born yet!) The
editorial, reproduced on the Internet, described how Ambassador Clarke,
then 45, “floored criticism of a Government Bill when he replied: ‘The
law, may I point out, cannot prescribe for every twist of the criminal
mind.’” The writer described him “not so much the master of the soft
answer as of the soft manner.” It’s as true today as it was then.
debate the Sir Ellis Draft, we have to move out of our usual furtive,
racially and politically partisan minds, suspicious conspiracy theories
and curb our appetite for the scandalous into a neutral space where we
attempt to understand what it means.
we do a headless chicken act, and start shouting and pointing fingers as
our usual substitute for real deliberation, I am convinced the Sir Ellis
Draft may quietly be slipped through and we will wake up one morning to
Executive President Manning or Executive President Dookeran or Executive
President Maharaj. The horror. The horror.
was talking to Sir Ellis specifically on section 109 (1) of his Draft that
appears to be a potentially lethal blow to democracy as it appears to give
the proposed Executive President absolute power except when consultation
is specified by law or constitution.
the exercise of his functions under this constitution or any other law,
the President shall act in his own deliberate judgment.”
Draft’s justification for an Executive President is this:
became a monarchy in 1962 and because of the nature of a monarchy all the
power was vested in the Prime Minister who had unlimited power. The
Governor General only acted in accordance with the advice of the PM.
we became a Republic in 1976, we diluted the PM’s power by assigning
some of it to the President. None of the actual Executive power of the PM
was assigned, but the power to make several appointments was given to the
President. This has led to a built in tension between President and PM
that raises its ugly head when you get a Panday/Robinson 18/18 fracas in
the PM thinks A should be appointed and the President responds coldly,
consults with the Leader of the Opposition and appoints J, the PM is not
pleased but the President cannot be challenged. You can call it petty if
you like. It’s human nature.
PM Robinson raised the question of whether I (as President in 1986) had
consulted with him about the appointment (I had consulted with the
previous PM and signed after Robinson came into power) of Jimmy Bain the
court said you cannot inquire into that.
1962 Republic was a bad word. It represented lawlessness. In 2006
Executive President is a bad word.”
week. A twist of the Executive President’s power