Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bill’s swift passage disrespectful to ‘we the people’



Mark Fraser

Dr Lincoln Douglas, Please tell “we the people” how the proposed amendments would serve to strengthen our Constitution? If so, how come other COP MPs either voted against or abstained from voting?

The Constitution is a non-partisan machinery that safeguards the sanctity of civil society from partisan politics. “We the people” ought not to take changes to the Constitution lightly and must not allow politicians, regardless of party persuasion, to manipulate the Constitution to serve their own self-interest. Amendments to the Constitution could impact our lives long after politicians and political parties demit office. The swift passage of the bill in the Lower House, given Government’s majority, and absence of meaningful public consultation show tantamount disrespect for “we the people”.

First, the proposed changes infringe our democratic rights of freedom of association. Run-off elections preclude the participation of minority parties in elections, thereby keeping us in the same dreary loop of a two-party system, and inherently tribal polarisation of the society.

Second, proportional representation exists at local government level, but in the proposed amendments, is repressed in central government where key decisions are made that significantly impact the lives of all citizens.

Third, run-off does not guarantee better representation, public services, good governance, and elimination of corruption and nepotism. Why then should we spend millions of dollars for a “second” election with no real benefits to the population?

Fourth, right to recall MPs seems logical in principle, but intricate to implement. This could lead to mayhem in marginal constituencies. And, how would the bill treat with an MP who also holds a ministerial portfolio? Why not reduce the term of office from five to three years given widespread distrust of politicians.

RP Joseph

San Fernando