TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, September 2, 2017 – Robert Le Hunte Senatorial appointment presents an interesting dilemma. Can government deny a natural born citizen that holds dual citizenship the right to serve in public office?
The Constitutional statute as written is ill-interpreted in this case:
DISQUALIFICATIONS FOR APPOINTMENT AS SENATOR
42.- 1. No person shall be qualified to be appointed as a Senator who-
a. is a citizen of a country other than Trinidad and Tobago having become such a citizen voluntarily or is under a declaration of allegiance to such a country;
The Constitution does not specifically prohibit a person of dual heritage from serving in the Parliment. Prohibiting good people from serving because of their global parentage is harmful to cultivating a balanced legislative axis able to develop public policy solutions in the global arena.
Dual citizenship should be seen as an advantage, not a reason for discriminating against a candidate. A candidate with global experience can bring a more well-rounded perspective and an ability to see problems from a larger global perspective; this allows for solutions that are more readily acceptable and understandable by members of the international financial community including Trinidad and Tobago.
The problem Trinidad and Tobago presently faces is its inability to view and initiate solutions outside the scope of its unique microcosm. If this article of the Constitution was applied by major developed countries, no foreign born individuals could serve in the Oval Office or any other government exhibiting super power status.
Colin Powell, for instance, was born to Jamaican parents. By his birth he is a Jamaican citizen. Would his dual citizenship actually prevent his objective implementation of policy designed to further the mandates articulated through American interests?
It is not just Colin Powell, a number of US Mayors and Congressional Representatives are of West Indian heritage. That diversity is not something to be punished or omitted. Trinidad and Tobago might want to learn from this. An individual with Mr. Le Hunte’s extensive international experience is to be a welcomed addition to its body of Parliamentary Representatives.
Remembering that all citizenship is inherently voluntarily to the extent that, absent the peculiar institution of slavery, no one is unwillingly impressed into citizenship. If someone cannot be forced into citizenship; everyone is mindfully free to fulfill the interests that are most successful at enacting comprehensive legislation: we can consider the statute more insight-fully designed to prevent someone who has no Trinidad and Tobago citizenship from overseeing legislative acts of its Parliament.
Even if one were to propose that the opposite scenario: prohibition of dual citizenship, was somehow more effective, what shortcomings would that interpretation prohibit? or does prohibit: legislating for profit, corrupt practices, or a misunderstanding of legislative history and parliamentary practices. These examples currently exist without the faulty negative dual citizenship interpretation.
If the interpretation does not establish an environment that merits Trinidad and Tobago’s best interests, then decidedly it is not an interpretation worth propagating any further.
What the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, must realize is that if Trinidad and Tobago’s constitution is interpreted literally, there would be no female parliamentary representatives. A more adequate and comprehensive reading of the Constitution utilizing a substantially intellectual and less fractional perspectives needs to be the status quo that Trinidad and Tobago enlists.
To malign the appointment on merits that are purely derisive relegates Trinidad and Tobago to a level that is fundamentally less than its ultimate goal of developed country status; placing emphasis on trivialities as opposed to focusing on nation building issues that Le Hunte, with his excellent list of credentials, can fix.
Robert Le Hunte’s extensive career in international finance makes him more than adequately aware of the needs of both the public and private sector. In addition to that obvious financial expertise, it provides his constituents a noble voice in Parliament to articulate their needs to more than just domestic compatriots.