Who is Keyser Soze? The movie The Usual Suspects tells the story of a crime. It’s key feature is a long convoluted series of events, with a confusing story and timeline, and so many players that makes it hard for you to figure out who the criminal is. Everything hinges on whether you believe the character telling the story: a criminal himself and the lone survivor of a drug deal gone sour. The crime we are dealing with is legislation gone sour and 18 days later nothing adds up except the accounts ledgers for pre-Budget Rallies.
Bear with me as I try to retrace some steps. On Sunday September 9th, the Guardian prints a story that says “Ish and Steve” are going to walk free based on a law that was proclaimed on the evening of August 30th. On Monday the 10th, several persons petition the court under this very Act, referred to popularly as the Indictable Offences Act. On that same day an article appears in the Express by Clarence Rambharat that explores Clause 34 of the Act that will help “Ish and Steve” to walk free.
In the article he implies, or at least creates the impression that there was some sort of collaboration between the Opposition and the Cabinet to enact section 34 thereby creating the legal loophole that might free “Ish and Steve”.
Events follow at warp speed. On Tuesday 13th at 10 am the PNM holds a press conference stating its position on Section 34 and calling on the Prime Minister to convene Parliament to repeal the law. In the midst of Rowley answering media questions a one-sentence announcement comes from the Minister of Communications that Parliament will be convened the following day. The Government claims that this decision was not influenced by the Opposition, but rather, they are responding to the cries of the people. The same way this weekends pre-Budget Rally is a response to the cries of the people. At the time of this announcement of a convened Parliament the population is still attempting to grapple with the Guardian headline from two days before and isn’t quite sure what Section 34 means.
The Lower and Upper House debates come and the citizenry are suitably pissed on by the Cabinet and told it is a passing shower. No one explains why the Lower House saw one wording of the Section 34 Clause, and the Upper House saw a different wording. No one explains who changed the wording of the Bill. No one explains why after the Cabinet promised no early proclamation of the Bill until all measures were in place it was enacted several months in advance of January 2013. What we are told repeatedly is that there is no conspiracy on the part of the Government to free Ish and Steve and we are reminded constantly through much coughing that the Opposition voted for it too.
Under PM Kamla's skilful story telling, Section 34 goes from being about a breach in legislation, to PNM vs People’s Partnership thing. The Cabinet refuses to accept responsibility for early proclamation of the Bill and the Opposition is put on the defensive to explain their role in it. Then faecal matter starts to fly. We find out through various letters to the press and other media events that the Minister of Legal Affairs, The DPP, the Criminal Bar Association, the Law Association and the Chief Justice never saw, nor agreed to an early proclamation of Section 34. This then forces the Prime Minister, who has been characteristically quiet and always “unresponsible” to decide to speak on the matter on the evening of Thursday 20th, September. Before doing so, she conducts a whirlwind tour of Laventille complete with a cadre of ministers and Olympian Keshorn Walcott. By the end of the Prime Minister’s speech she reveals that she has investigated herself; insists that her government was not aware of the flaws in the Act; there was no conspiracy; decides to remove Herbert Volney as Minister of Justice because he has lied to the Cabinet; stresses to the nation that the Parliament was collectively responsible for the law being enacted; insists that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan was innocent of any wrongdoing; and gives the country a very convoluted and erroneous timeline.
But you see here is the rub, in misspeaking about the timeline the PM has opened up another can of worms. A can of worms that is now revealing that she and her Cabinet were made aware, since 2011, by Ramadhar, al Rawi and Imbert that section 34 had serious implications. Further, her insistence that Anand Ramlogan was out of the country when the decision to enact the Bill was taken seems to be incorrect. The Prime Minister insists that Ramlogan was out of the country from July 20th to August 4th. The Cabinet meeting to decide on early proclamation happened after August 6th; and further, even if Ramlogan wasn’t here, the acting AG, according to the Gazette was Ganga Singh. So, we had an AG to walk the legislation through. The Bill didn’t walk by itself.
Then there is the curious incident of the publication of the law itself. The Guardian published the story about “Ish and Steve” walking free on September 9th. The two men petitioned the court on Monday 10th; but the law was only printed and circulated by the Government printery that same Monday, in fact the Monday evening. So how did “Ish and Steve’s” lawyers find out about the Act in time to petition the court on the Monday morning, and how did the media find out about the proclaimed Act and “Ish and Steve's” petition before Monday September 10th? Where is the leak?
We have a crime: perversion of the course of justice; we have suspects: most of them sitting in the Cabinet. What we need now is to find a judge, a jury and an executioner.
De Vice Cyah Done!