Senator: Resign and seek re-election
By MIRANDA LA ROSE Wednesday, September 11 2013
Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan has advised Herbert Volney to resign as the St Joseph MP, having been elected under the United National Congress (UNC), and go back and seek re- election under his new party, the Independent Liberal Party (ILP).
Thought he did mention Volney by name, Ramkhelawan made reference to his refusal to vacate his seat in the House of Representatives and said, “Take up your bundle and walk. Go back and face the people and say ‘Listen, I can represent you. I represented you in that party, and I can represent you now. Come and vote for me. Come and vote for my party’.”
Without mentioning the name of interim leader of the ILP, Jack Warner, Ramkhelawan, speaking in the Senate at yesterday’s debate on the local government amendment bill, declared, “That is why I admired the action of an MP of recent and current vintage, who took up his bundle and walked, and sought re-election.”
He alluded to the situation in the House of Representatives where Volney’s failure to vacate the St Joseph’s seat having resigned from the UNC, under which he contested the seat, is now being questioned.
Speaking from a position of principle, and not from a legal perspective, Ramkhelawan said, “What is right in my view is, if you stand before the people who are willing to elect you, and you say that you belong to a particular party, the party that is promoting you, and you are supposed to be promoting the philosophy and tenets of that party, how do you suddenly walk away and say, ‘I am my own man,’ when you are riding on the back of that particular party?”
He continued, “That ought not to be.”
Local government reforms, Ramkhe-
lawan said, should ensure that if a councillor chooses to resign from a party which has supported his candidacy, and he chooses to vote outside the line of that party, “he should resign his position, and make sure that he can go back and face the polls.”
That is what democracy represents in its purest form, he said.
“It must not be a dictatorship of those on high, it must be a dictatorship of the people from below coming right up. We put you on this pedestal, but you are on it to serve us,” he said.
Supporting proportional representation in the Local Government elections, Ramkhelawan said the first-past-the-post system has failed the country over the past 30 years. He noted that significant percentage of citizens have remained voiceless in a system that does not allow for them because of the winner-take-all electoral system. He gave the example of the recent Tobago House of Assembly elections which left no room for opposition, and the Organisation for National Reconstruction in 1981 securing 22 percent of the popular votes, and gaining no seat, and the Congress of the People in 2007 securing 23 percent of the popular votes and gaining no seat in the country’s parliament.
On the other hand PNM Senator Pennelope Beckles-Robinson did not support the proportional representation saying that it is making governance almost impossible in neighbouring Guyana and Venezuela.