Our Readers' Opinions
November 20, 2009
Why are non-nationals so silent?


Editor: Last Sunday evening I decided to go for a drive. On my way into Kingstown I met two rallies, a “yes vote” rally in Mesopotamia and a “no vote” candle light vigil in Sion Hill. Their conflicting views made me realize that as a non-national I could no longer remain silent. Unfortunately until now I have not heard non-nationals contributing publicly to this debate.{{more}}

My question is, why are non-nationals so silent? Are we afraid to support publicly this bill or not? Or are we just not interested in the whole debate? After seriously thinking about this, I decided to voice my opinion. I have to point out that as non-nationals we make our contribution to the development of this beautiful country. Some of us have Vincentian families and it is our responsibility to voice our opinion on something that would affect negatively or positively our children’s lives for the next twenty or thirty years. Let’s not forget that President Obama’s father upon arrival in the USA was a non-national but less than fifty years later his son is now the president of the United States of America.

The constitution is the supreme law of the land. It is supposed to be a consensual document. Therefore, all relevant stakeholders should compromise or should be willing to make some compromise as regards the content of the document. Simply put, neither individual, nor party should expect to have everything that they want included in the said document. Neither should any party or individual dictate the contents of same.

The guiding principles in the drafting of a constitution should be integrity and honesty.

Having followed the constitutional debate for the past five years, I believe that the government should be commended for giving citizens both here and abroad the opportunity to have an input in the drafting bill. This is an example that I believe that other countries around the world will follow.

Having followed the debate, as well as having attended a number of public meeting discussing the draft bill, I am of the view that given the importance of clauses 70(d),96(10)and 30(1), there should have been consensus of all parties involved before the bill was placed in the public domain.

After speaking with several lawyers, I have concluded that clause 69(1) is not as clear as the government intended, hence this clause leads itself to different interpretations contrary to the interpretation intended by the government.

In light of the social and political experiences in different parts of the world and especially in developing countries, I would have expected this bill to include provision relating to term limits for the office of the prime minister and the financing of political parties during election as such provisions would guard against the likelihood of corruption.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum, it is clearly imperative that all leaders of SVG get together to build the bridge of peace for the benefit of the country as a whole.

In this regard, appeal to all talk show hosts to exercise more responsibility in hosting theirs programs and to refuse to those person persons who call on to express discord and hatred towards others.

The 1994 Rwanda genocide where 800,000 people were killed appear to us in SVG as very distant and unlikely occurrence. However, by fuelling the hatred which we are feeding everyday, we are in fact paving the road for this type of tragedy.