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3rd PSC nomination fails House testWilliams rejected

Published: 
Saturday, July 21, 2018
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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley makes his way to the parliament chamber yesterday. Photo by:SHIRLEY BAHADUR

A third name rejected.

There’s no Government support for acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams to be confirmed for the post since the fight against crime isn’t where Government wants it to be.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley declared this position in Parliament yesterday in rejecting notification from the Police Service Commission nominating Williams for the job. He however thanked Williams for his service.

Williams is the third name rejected from the former commission’s merit list of candidates for the CoP job. In June and recently, Government rejected DCPs Deodat Dulalchan and Harold Phillip, the first and second-ranked candidates, taking issue with the commission’s process. Four candidates were rank-listed by that PSC.

Rowley said the matter of a CoP now returns to the PSC to continue the merit list process and Government would await notification from the President whenever she’s advised by the PSC.

Rowley added, “If there’s another name on the merit list and until the merit list is exhausted we’re not able to escape this process. The PSC doesn’t advise the President or Government of who’s on the list or how many are on it; we await the notification from the PSC, as it might very well be that there are others on the list who may find favour with this House (of Representatives).”

He said Williams’ nomination for the post also came before Parliament 10 years ago when Williams was “10 years younger and 10 years less tired”. He noted Parliament’s position then was Williams wasn’t ready for the responsibility of the post. Rowley said the current Parliament can’t say Williams isn’t ready now either.

“But what we have now is the benefit of evidence which, with the best analysis in the world and the best marking of the score, we all in T&T must conclude the fight against crime isn’t where we’d like it to be,” Rowley added.

“As we thank Mr Williams for his service and treat with this nomination, confirmation of him as Commissioner of Police, in the view of the Government, is not going to make the change the country requires at this time.

“Therefore, Government would not accept this notification, as we expect to respond in a way that will bring about some element of change and after seven years we don’t believe that just a confirmation - of not the incumbent, but the holder of an acting position - will change it.

“We cannot make a confirmation here and tomorrow it’s ‘business as usual’- that’s not what T&T requires now. We require an intervention of change to give ourselves a chance to get the upper hand.”

He said Williams has given the assignment his best effort.

“There’s no disgrace in us accepting, or him accepting that once you do your best you simply have to leave the rest. But he’s been holding the fort and standing in the gap for T&T.”

Rowley said Williams was a victim of the system, since it took years to bring the process to where it is now - a couple months before Williams goes on pre-retirement leave in September. He added the current process needs to be abolished and replaced by something much more efficient and expected conversations on this “in the not too distant future” between Government and Opposition.

Rowley said Government also would ensure Williams’ acting position for all those years didn’t go unrecognised.

Vacation debate on merit list

Government is prepared to deal with the Police Service Commission’s merit list of candidates for Police Commissioner if it takes every week of the current Parliamentary recess, Communication Minister Stuart Young said in yesterday’s debate on the issue.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley also slammed the Opposition for querying under what regulation Parliament was meeting on the matter during the annual recess. Opposition concern on this was raised again yesterday by UNC whip David Lee, but House Speaker Brigid Annisette-George maintained it was under valid regulations.

Rowley said it was curious the Opposition always deems crime a crisis for urgent priority attention, yet didn’t want to attend Parliament to deal with the CoP issue, which would have ensured the police service was led in the best way to handle the crime problem.

Rowley said he’d have loved to have been on vacation, but the sitting was necessary to do the country’s business.

“If we have to be here today, tomorrow or next week, we’ll be here. It’s strange they (Opposition) could say on notification issue, ‘leave it for after we finish vacation’,” Rowley added.

He noted Government couldn’t present the notification but had to await this from the President after the PSC handles the process according to law.

Young said MPs all get paid for their work and Government would come out to deal with the issue “even it’s Saturday and Sunday until a Commissioner is appointed.” He said Government would stick to the law on the issue to avoid legal challenges such as is being threatened now. Young said UNC MPs had also written chairmen of Parliament’s Joint Select Committee indicating they wouldn’t attend JSCs during the recess.

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