MSJ political leader David Abdulah.

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The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) says that while the Government and Opposition use the collapse of the Police Service Commission (PolSC) to score political points, the only way forward is to collaborate to amend Section 123 of the Constitution. During the MSJ’s weekly media conference , political leader David Abdulah said he disagrees with the Opposition’s attempt to have President Paula-Mae Weekes impeached and the disrespect of name-calling against the highest office holder in T&T. Abdulah said T&T needs to review the role of its service commissions, especially the PolSC and its oversight of the Police Service and CoP. He said a 2006 constitutional amendment, which former Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday agreed on, reformed the PolSC to make it more effective. However, he said that amendment gave total power of managing the Police Service to the CoP. While this may be necessary from a management perspective, Abdulah said the need for oversight of the Police Service and the CoP was clear. “That oversight cannot reside with the political directorate because then we get the issue of a politically directed T&T Police Service, which we do not want. That oversight, quite properly, should reside with the PolSC. But at the moment, the PolSC under the Constitution can only review, on an annual or semi-annual basis, the work of the CoP and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, based upon reports.” Abdulah said the PolSC could not challenge how a CoP allocates resources, such as setting up new units like the Special Operations Response Team and recruiting members. Therefore, he says Parliament needs to review the role of the PolSC as an oversight body and expand this to other commissions like the Teaching Service Commission and Public Service Commission. He referred to President Paula-Mae Weekes’ statements in newspapers that there is a need for constitutional reform.

Therefore, Abdulah reiterated his call front the Government and Opposition to have mature discussions. If done correctly, he said this would provide a check and balance on the functionality of the PolSC and the CoP. In Weekes’ statements, she confirmed that the PolSC submitted an Order of Merit List for the nominees for the CoP to her. She said the PolSC then withdrew the list. Therefore, there was no notification to send to Parliament. A former PolSC commissioner stated that he was aware that a high-ranking, unnamed public official intervened. There was a suggestion that Weekes met with the PolSC chairman Bliss Seepersad and a senior government official. Therefore, the MSJ thinks Seepersad must make a statement on the matter.