|Candlelight vigil against Runoff Bill |
By SEAN DOUGLAS Tuesday, August 26 2014
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Bill vigil: Members of the public assemble for a vigil last night outside of the Parliament in protest against the Constitution (Amendment) Bill which...
JUST under 100 protestors attended a candlelight vigil last night outside Tower D, Port-of-Spain, the seat of Parliament, where the Senate will today debate the controversial Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014.
Newsday met members of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), Fixing T&T plus ordinary citizens attending of their own accord, some holding placards and most vowing to stay as long as they could, into the night.
Several female protestors Newsday spoke with said they had long been disgusted with the Government’s performance including an alleged untrustworthiness, with the Bill just being their latest discontent.
“There’s always something ‘there’, waiting to reveal itself,” bemoaned one young mother. “They must come honest. There’s too much tricks and dishonesty,” said another woman.
Public relations consultant, Denise Demming, said the vigil was a non-partisan approach to a critical issue and an opportunity to protect democracy.
She said the issue had not been widely ventilated, although “well massaged” by the Government. She said this Bill could prompt protests such as seen in the 1970s.
The MSJ’s Ozzie Warwick hit the Government for ruling by illusion and public relations, such as masking the identity of the man in the “Room 201” video, referring to images of a man resembling former Sports Minister Anil Roberts allegedly rolling marijuana cigarettes in a hotel room with women.
“The people of TT are smarter than that,” Warwick said. Roberts last month resigned over the Life Sport controversy following the Minister of Finance Larry Howai’s disclosure of financial impropriety with the programme being referred to the police for investigation.
Warwick urged Independent Senators to put the country first in today’s debate and vote on conscience. “This is their opportunity to take a stand,” said Warwick.
He hit the Bill for failing to change the relations of power in TT.
FITUN leader, Joseph Remy, said the vigil was an effort to persuade the Independent Senators of the dangers of the Bill that should be withdrawn and then be subjected to proper consultations. “If the majority of your citizens don’t understand the legislation — and it impacts on their right to vote — this suggests you should have a re-look at the whole approach,” urged Remy.
The MSJ’s Ancel Roget hit the Bill saying, “You can’t use a process that denies people a say, and then claim you are giving them more power”. He alleged that the Bill is a brazen attempt to steal the next general election. The MSJ’s Dr Roosevelt Williams hit the runoff provision, saying, “All it’ll do is ensure voting along ethnic lines”. The MSJ’s Vincent Cabrera said the “stay in power bill” would create an imbroglio when a runoff is held in each of 41 constituencies. “We’ll be in national limbo,” he predicted.