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Al-Rawi: Independents under pressure

Published: 
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi says debate on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 has been reduced to all eyes being on the Independent Senators. Making his contribution during debate on the bill in the Upper House yesterday, he said people were merely waiting to see which of them would abstain or vote in favour of the bill.

Rehashing the People’s National Movement’s arguments about the absence of the proposal during public consultation, he said two of the four people who produced the Constitution Reform Commission (CRC) report following consultations with the public have now distanced themselves from it. The two are Carlos Dillon and Dr Merle Hodge.

Hodge has been part of anti-bill protests outside the Parliament building since she distanced herself from the controversial runoff aspect of the bill, saying it was not part of their discussions with the public. She argued that the bill should be deferred and the issue be taken back to the public.

Quoting extensively from a media release Hodge issued when she broke rank with the CRC, Al-Rawi recalled she described the runoff ballot as a postscript which was added to the original report. He said Hodge noted she did not know where the runoff aspect came from. He said Hodge said the postscript was an internal document, tagged “private and confidential” and addressed exclusively to the Prime Minister.

He said the consultation process was, as a result, illegitimate. He said members of the public were told the final report would have been brought back to the people. “That was a wholesome, inveterate untruth,” he said. Al-Rawi also criticised the coming Constituency Development Fund, saying it was a most insidious mechanism that will be launched on the people.

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