Attorney George: Nothing legally wrong in Government’s choice for President

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Attorney Martin George

Tobago Business Chamber chairman and attorney Martin George says there is nothing legally wrong in the Government nominating Christine Kangaloo – President of the Senate – for President of the country.

The Prime Minister announced Kangaloo as the government’s choice at a press conference on Friday.

The selection has been criticised by the Opposition and other political rivals as Kangaloo has had a long history as part of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM), including as a Cabinet minister.

However, George said her selection was not illegal.

“In fact, such a view is fortified and enshrined within our very own Constitution when one looks at the sections which deal with the President and the appointment of a President it is pellucid from section 24 that the framers actually envisaged the possibility that someone who is a member of the Senate or a member of the House of Representatives can be elected as President,” he said on Saturday in a WhatsApp video.

“Section 24 says where a member of the Senate or the House of Representatives is elected as President, his seat in the Senate or the House of Representatives, respectively, shall become vacant.

“So it is clear that the framers of the Constitution considered the possibility that someone could be a sitting member of the House of Representatives or Senate and still be appointed as President or nominated for such an appointment. There is nothing at all legally wrong with it. So it is clear that the government is on solid legal ground in making such a decision.”

But George said the issue has given way to the court of public opinion.

“Based upon what persons have expressed since the naming of their (Government’s) choice, it is clear that some consideration ought to be taken as to hearing the views of others.”

He referred to a 1936 Privy Council case in Trinidad and Tobago – Andre Paul Terence Ambard versus the Attorney General – to support his point.

“In that Privy Council case, Lord Atkins made it clear that one must always look at these situations with an open mind. In fact, Lord Atkins in that case said ‘Justice is not a cloistered virtue and must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and the respectful, even though outspoken comments of ordinary men.’

“In other words, we, in looking at this situation in Trinidad and Tobago, have to listen to and be willing to hear the comments of ordinary citizens on the matter, and the government can then decide whether they take those into account or not.”

He urged the Government to reflect on the Privy Council case “where Lord Atkins made it clear that we must still, even though you are on solid ground legally, you must still be open to hearing the views of others and of course you then make your final decision based upon that.”