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George: No need for more powers for President

Clint Chan Tack Attorney Martin George -
Attorney Martin George -

ATTORNEY Martin George does not believe there is any need for the President or the Office of the President to be given additional powers to investigate certain matters.

He was responding to statements made by former president Paula-Mae Weekes in a pre-recorded radio interview broadcast over the weekend.

Weekes, who demitted office on March 20, said, "If you are asking the President to be responsible for identifying people nominated to hold certain independent, very responsible and very weighty offices, I think the President should be enabled to do more than go shoo-shooing around, asking people, ‘What you know about X?’"

Weekes said the President’s Office is not provided with any kind of investigative apparatus to look into the people the President is going to put forward for certain national roles.

She said the individual’s qualifications can be objectively verified, but the President must rely on third parties to find out about the nominee's character and conduct.

“Which is not the most effective way, because you might ask a person who is either very much in favour or very much against that individual (being considered). The information you get can be skewed, depending on the source of your information,” Weekes explained.

On Tuesday, George asked why Weekes did not advocate for this while she was President.

He also said, "The more important question in this regard would be: why does the Office of the President think that it would need separate investigative units to be able to carry out its functions properly?"

The Office of the President, George continued, is conferred with "the highest powers in the land.You (the President) are the head of state."

He found it inconceivable that the police service or the commissioner of police would not respond to a request from the President to investigate certain matters that come to his or her attention.

As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, George argued, the President could also request the military's assistance in certain matters.

"You (the President) can request from various state agencies the information that you require, or to have these things (investigations) done.

"You look at it and you really wonder (how) all the previous presidents (before Weekes) functioned without such (an investigative) unit."

He opined that all of Weekes' predecessors were able to do their job successfully without the powers she spoke about.

"I am not sure of the necessity for it at all, and I remain unconvinced that it is the most pressing issue to be addressed."