Thursday, January 18, 2018

Devil is in those details

 A poll reportedly done for the Government two  weeks ago says 70 per cent of people support a right of recall and 55 per cent support term limits for prime ministers. 

I strongly support right of recall and term limits in principle. 

Having read the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, however, I can see from the details that the right of recall can only be invoked after the MP has been in position for three years, and it cannot be invoked in the fifth year. For it to succeed the signatures of 66 per cent of the registered voters would have to be laboriously collected by the petitioners, although the MP could have been elected by a mere 35 per cent of the registered voters. I therefore consider the legislation as being useless and perhaps meant to be  deceptive.

It should be obvious that there is no urgency about fixed limits for prime ministers since the earliest time that the question can arise is 2020, provided the present PM holds the post after the 2015 elections. In this case I would say, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” 

The reported support  for these two provisions is qualified by the pollsters’ noticing of the confession or complaint from some of those who were polled that they did not have enough information presumably about the details of the Bills. This being so, the result of the poll has been unsatisfactorily represented in the media. And that the pollsters should issue the caveat and still count the opinions of people who did not know what they were talking about  is a cause for concern. 

Because many  people agree in principle that the right of recall should exist and that  fixed terms for PMs should be set, the support expressed is support in principle. Just like mine. I would like to believe that this is a thinking society and if people saw and understood the details they would not approve of the way the right of recall is set out, and they would think the fixed term provision is no big thing at this time. 

Kenneth Ramchand

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