A Letter to the Editor from Ravi Maharaj
Following the disappointing, but not unexpected, vote on the SSA Amendment in the Senate, the big question is whether or not the PNM were poor in their debate, or simply brilliant at selling snake oil. Despite the Government not able to address any of the concerns of the Independents with their arguments, with even Sen. Roach and Sen. Junkere agreeing that the bill was in need of amendments of its own, somehow they were both convinced to vote in favor of its passage in its original, flawed state.
How much of their decision could be attributed to their private meeting with the Attorney General the day prior is unknown, but clearly that session was enough to persuade them to vote in support of the legislative amendment, and contrary to their colleagues who declined the government’s invitation.
Yet, I find myself at a crossroad while being asked to speak out on the matter, sure Sen. Roach has been affiliated to the PNM in the past, and Sen. Junkere is only a temporary appointee, but in the grand scheme of things their vote was not necessary as Sen. Small was conveniently absent for both sittings in which the bill was debated.
Even if the matter had resulted in a deadlock between both sides of the Senate, the President may have delivered a casting vote in order to preserve the status quo. The real issue now that the amendment has been approved is – where do we go from here?
Even the most avid of PNM supporters remain circumspect with regards to allowing them these powers of surveillance and espionage. In a post-Snowden reality, we are all aware of the menace that a government may pose to a population if they allow these abilities to go unchecked.
To this end , there have been calls by both private industry and the media to hold discussions concerning the government’s plan now that they have these powers. Unfortunately for them however, it seems that the PNM has not responded to them, and are unlikely to now that the dice is cast.
The really incredulous part however, is that even after fellow Independent Senator Paul Richards described how his name ended up on a list of names of persons who were being surveilled by a previous administration, possibly even illegally, two of his colleagues could still vote in favor of faulty amendments to the bill.
If anything this makes me understand why these types of persons would not have been represented in the Parliament without the provision for “Independent” Senators, and why our nation has cried our for Constitutional reform. Because if these persons cannot find it within themselves to support their own, how can we expect that they will act in the best interest of this nation?