Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The ‘Ghany Report’ advocates change by force

I refer to the Constitution Commission Report of December 27, 2013, the ownership of which is truly doubtful—so I shall call it (for more reasons than convenience) “the Ghany Report”!

I do not do so lightly: up at UWI, and in academia, Dr Hamid Ghany has for years been actively in pursuit of new models of constitutional “development or reform” for T&T. 

In this report, the philosophical positions and literary style are entirely his. 

I was reluctant to comment—mainly through a gut feeling of disgust at what is threatened by the arbitrary tone and undemocratic line of the perceived author.

He significantly proposes “force” and not consensus among people. Let me briefly refer to four numbered paragraphs of the “Ghany Report”: No. 124: … “ This will force a change in the culture of the operations of both Houses of Parliament.” 

No. 127: “The introduction of a method of election that will force consensus among members of a revised senate will create the conditions for power-sharing and coalition…”

Not content with that, in Chapter Six the author publicly asserts: “The political culture of domination has to be checked by a systemic alteration that will force behavioural change in the direction of compromise and consensus instead of domination…” No. 162.

Reading this, I felt like one of a group of laboratory rats marshalled for the next Pavlovian experiment. 

If you are surprised, read in Chapter Ten about  “the creation of a parliamentary hybrid…essentially parliamentary in its DNA.” Nos 278, 279. Test-tube politics? And in No. 281, the writer proposes—to “force” party nominees “to observe standards of ethics, etc.”

Ever heard of Procrustes the Greek, a son of Poseidon? He had an iron bed his captives had to fit. If too tall, the legs were cut off; if too short, the legs were stretched. That is “the Procrustean solution.”

It is the undesirable practice of tailoring data to fit its container or some other preconceived structure (Wikipedia). It is a form of rhetorical deception made to forward one set of interests at the expense of others.

And the poisoned eye that mesmerises, that offers danger to the populace in full view, is the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 as currently drafted.

In the collective sense, one must denounce the Procrustean commissioners; and together with attorney Dave Persad also denounce “this (undemocratic) massive and expensive hoax.”

Arthur L McShine

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