Monday, February 19, 2018

Bill a step in the right direction

Union head Nirvan Maharaj:



Mark Fraser

THE Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 is a step in the right direction and no constitution should ever be unchangeable.

This is according to  president general of the All Trinidad General Workers’ Trade Union, Nirvan Maharaj.

In a news release, Maharaj said those opposing the bill were simply against it “for opposing sake”.

Debate on the bill began in the Senate yesterday, with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar leading off. The bill needs a simple majority to be passed, which means the majority of those present and voting.

“I am yet to be convinced that this proposed system will lead to a disturbance of our electoral peace and tranquillity or, increase substantially, voting along racial lines anymore than we have experienced in this nation since the 1960s,” said Maharaj.

He said there was an absence of evidence to show the bill undermined any constitutional right.

“The opposition to the contents of this bill seem to be based on mere speculation and assumption on what may or may not happen and wild and unsubstantiated allusions to the race bogey,” Maharaj stated.

“It must be noted that no constitution should ever be unchangeable, since the historical dynamics of the past must mesh with current and contemporary scenarios to ensure that all citizens are afforded the opportunity to fair play, equality and justice before the institutions that govern the society. 

“It must be that a constitution is evolutionary as the society itself evolves,” he added.

“This bill is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that, at least in the realm of electoral politics, the view of the majority of those taking part may hold sway over the specific interest of a minority.”

If the current electoral system was no longer working for the benefit of citizens, then organisations and civil societies should demand that all political parties implement “some type of proportional representation to ensure that he who achieves the majority of votes wins and that all interests are served”, Maharaj said.