February 10, 2001 By Kurt Garcia

Take "Voter Padding" serious

Dear Editor.

It is important to the present and future image of Trinidad and Tobago that the charges and documented allegations of "voter padding" be taken seriously by people on both sides of the divide and those in the middle.

Already there is some indication that such a message is getting through by the rather statesman like articulation on the issue by Ralph Maraj which is clear, precise and worthy of emulation and repetition by anyone worthy of the name "practicing politician".

The evasion and trivialization of the issue by those who are in position to get to the bottom of this issue, while it may bring them short term gain, would bring to this country's image, serious damage and chronic instability. One only has to remember what happens in countries around the world such as Guyana whose image for many years remained tattered with all the disastrous consequences from similar accusations and confirmed electoral malpractices which up to this day, hovers like an ill omen over Guyanese politics, and there are many more countries that can trace their downfal, to the ignoring of calls for democratic and electoral transparency.

All it takes for us to avoid such a situation is firm action to restore the integrity of the system by appointing a Commission of Inquiry with powers to deal with all offenders.

I am not assuming like so many in the society "that himself would not investgate himself." To do so would be to assume that all our state agencies and officials are dishonest and that we may be victims of a coup to establish a one party system in our plural society.

When the body appointed to oversee our democratic future comes under such massive scrutiny, suspicion, query and general distrust, with many credible accusations being made, it becomes immediately necessary for action to be taken. If a Commission of Inquiry was appointed for an escaped prisoner who was suspected of colluding with Prison officials, then the nation should be given one for a suspected stolen election with collusion from electoral officials and let the "chips fall where they may " this time.

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