“I was approached on Sunday by Senator Ganga Singh, on behalf of the Prime Minister, indicating that she would like me to resign. I then agreed. As far as I am concerned, I was appointed by the Prime Minister and if she no longer wanted my acting as president, I felt the right thing to do was to tender my resignation, which I tendered yesterday (Monday) morning,” he said.
He said the reason given to him by Singh was the Prime Minister wanted to introduce a number of new ministers through the Senate and “she needed space in order to be able to do that”.
Hamel-Smith said the Prime Minister would have had a hard decision to make. “It really came down, from a prime ministerial perspective, to a question of who do I retain, Hamel-Smith or Raziah (Ahmed). She (the PM) thought that the thing to do was to promote Raziah to president of the Senate.
“I assume she (the Prime Minister) is a woman of great compassion, ladies tend to be like that. And she did what she had to do. It is a hard thing for anybody to do.
“Once she made the decision to bring in these new ministers in the Senate, then she was left with a very difficult decision to choose between the two of us and, quite frankly, I was more expendable. From a financial point of view, it is not a great impact on me,” he said. He said he would not try to attribute any other motive to the Prime Minister’s decision.
Hamel-Smith was considered to be one of the better performers in the Government’s team. On his unceremonious removal, he said, “Of course, I would have liked to have continued and, yes, I was in shock. Poor old Ganga, who was made to be the bearer of the news. He was commissioned by the Prime Minister who had lots of other things on her plate.
“I invited him to my home and Ganga sat there and started to give me stories, and I say, ‘Ganga, yuh talking in riddles. Give me it straight …. Tell me the bottom line instead of talking in parables,’ and he said, ‘The Prime Minister want yuh to resign.’”
Hamel-Smith said he assumed the Prime Minister did what she thought was best. “And I can live with that,” he said.
He said he was glad to have had the opportunity to serve the country at the level of president of the Senate for four and a half years.
“I made a contribution to the best of my ability and I feel very happy with my performance. The world is still there, open to me, to do many other things,” he said.
He said during that time, he initiated a number of major changes —the draft document for the autonomy of Parliament, the outreach to the schools programme, the change to the Standing Orders and the preparation of legislation for the information management system. He said the job is never finished, “what you have to do is plant your seed. I think it took root”.
He added Parliament had an excellent staff and those who remain would carry the work to fruition.
He said under the Constitution, the Senate president’s resignation is activated by sending his resignation to the clerk of the Senate and the Prime Minister requesting the President to revoke his appointment.
At yesterday’s sitting of the Senate, all sides expressed their thanks to Hamel-Smith and praised his performance.
Independent Senator Helen Drayton said his stewardship had been excellent while Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Camille Robinson-Regis said he was, in the main, a fair presiding officer.
Singh (Ganga) also thanked Hamel-Smith for his service.