Former prime minister Basdeo Panday with his daughter Mickela arriving at NAPA on Monday. AZP News/Azlan Mohammed
Panday: We Can’t Plant Apples in the Cane Fields of Caroni
By Prior Beharry
WHILE wishing newly-inaugurated President Christine Kangaloo well, former prime minister Basdeo Panday says the goals she set out in her maiden speech may be too ambitious.
Panday was speaking to the media at the reception for the 7th President of Trinidad and Tobago at the National Academy of the Performing Arts on Monday.
He said the problem was never with the incumbent president but with the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago.
In her first speech as the head of State, President Kangaloo said, “My way is to be your Diplomat-In-Chief, making the case for a better Trinidad and Tobago firmly, but without acrimony or bitterness.
“My words do not need to be shouted in the public square. There is already too much shouting going on in our country today. I believe that we all need to be calmer and more reflective. And I propose to lead in that regard, by example.”
Asked about President Kangaloo achieving the aims she set for herself, Panday said, “I think she will try but she will have a difficult time given the limitations of the Constitution.”
He said constitutional reform was the important thing.
Panday said, “I think that many agree on the need for constitution reform but neither party wants it. The only way you can do it peacefully is in Parliament.”
He said, “The Office of the President should be the executive leader and the prime minister should be the legislative leader and the CJ should be the judicial leader and one shouldn’t interfere with the other.”
Asked if he was advocating a presidential system like in America, Panday said, “I don’t care about anybody system, I care about mine and that is what I face.
“By adopting the British Constitution we attempted to plant apples in the cane fields of Caroni. It won’t work.
“We have to have something indigenous to ourselves, relevant to us, nobody else.”
Asked about the Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her MPs boycotting the inauguration ceremony at the Queen’s Park Savannah earlier, Panday said, “It is symbolic that she’s anti the president no matter who the president is.”
Told that he was the only United National Congress (UNC) person at the ceremony, Panday quipped, “I am not a UNC person. You forgot they expel me from the party, I am not a UNC.”
Persad-Bissessar had beaten Panday in the party’s internal election in 2010 and has been political leader of the UNC ever since.
1n 1986 Panday was part of the NAR they held the three-fifths majority they could have rewritten the Constitution which they spent
12M on the Hyatali Commission but he chose to break with the coalition. He had second attempt in 1995 he won 17 seats and Robinson joined with him to give him the majority to form the Gov’t now 19 seats then two PNM MP’s joined with him and now he had 21 Seats the Opposition could have join with him to rewrite the Constitution but never negotiated or suggested
Panday was not really interested in Constitution reform