Friday, December 15, 2017

More questions than answers


Mark Fraser

 The more members of this Government attempt to rationalise the monster which their constitutional reform has become, the worse they make it. The biggest question in my mind is: if the People’s Partnership had honourable intentions, then why did they not offer their run-off amendments for discussion during the nationwide consultation? Why the attempted deception by the Minister of Legal Affairs, who would have succeeded save for the intervention by the most honourable Dr Merle Hodge, who informed the citizenry of his less-than-honourable intentions.

The Prime Minister attempts to show magnanimity by her echoed call (first spoken by Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan months ago) for the removal of collective Cabinet responsibility and vote on individual integrity. Well we all know integrity is something lacking in Trinbago, seeing that we have had so many failed Integrity Commissions; so that’s one idea out the window. Secondly, this country is so racially and politically divided that independent thinking and voting are a falsity. 

The Minister of Housing made light of the entire situation trying to justify his Government’s position, knowing fully the concerns raised were valid ones.

The Attorney General attempted to justify the “run-off” with the inclusion of the “recall”; knowing that:

1. The representative recall will take so long to accomplish that it becomes ineffective and of no consequence because you can only recall after three years but not in the fifth year, so you have a one-year window, which is impossible to accomplish with all the intricacies involved.

2. It will take more of the electorate to remove the representative than it took to elect them.

So his explanation was also deceptive, disrespectful and raised more questions. 

With these types of changes to our Constitution, it leaves the door wide open for a dictator in the near future. Can the Government or the Opposition parties or even their supporters stop being selfish for a while, and consider the possibility that in the near future an even more despicable administration can come into being due to the citizenry’s total dissatisfaction with all the political malingering and sleight-of-hand actions?

This individual will have total autonomy using these said amendments to manipulate and intimidate the electorate which did not vote for them in the first round of voting, thus securing guaranteed victory.

You may believe the two-term leader clause will stop this, but remember the power given to this administration to change our Constitution with a simple majority can be used to reverse this amendment.

To reiterate the biggest question: if the People’s Partnership had honourable intentions, then why did they not offer their “run-off amendments” for discussion during the nationwide consultation, instead of bringing it as a thief-in-the-night amendment?

Are we serious? Are we so arrogant to believe this cannot occur? Which planet have we been living on for the past 60 years? Remember Sheikh Hasina, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe, Ferdinand Marcos, Indira Gandhi (check your history: 1970 India, to be exact) and Francois Duvalier. Just remember when this happens: “is you who vote for that”.

R Beddoe