Our Readers' Opinions
February 22, 2011

Own Government, but don’t condone unjust amendments


Editor: In recent days, the repeated call has come from the Leader of the Opposition for Vincentians to stand up as a united people and protest the amendments recently passed in Parliament. This is not an idle warning. At the same time, with this slogan ‘Own the Government’, the Prime Minister is calling on his party supporters, charging them up to confront the citizens’ protest, if only to demonstrate political might and power.{{more}}

While I consider the PM’s call to own the Government to be correct, I must admit that I regard his motive with some skepticism; in that, the PM is deliberately attempting to cast the current dispute purely as a political one, creating political drama and prospects for political unrest, to deflect the truth from Vincentians’ attention. The truth of the matter before our citizens is essentially a legal one, one which is centered in the laws provided under the Representation of the People Act. The PM also knows this, and it is why at this point he is retroactively, reversing and unfixing our laws.

The Truth: The Ownership of Government

From time to time, Vincentians need to be reminded of who truly owns Government. The various projects of which all Governments boast, is not due to the benevolence of the ruling political party. It is their sworn duty to perform by law, just as it’s their responsibility to manage the scarce financial resources of the country. To my mind, and under the law, Government is owned by all the Citizens of the land, and should not be divided between one political camp or the other. Put simply, the relationship between The People and its Government is like this. I am no legal expert, so I stand corrected where necessary:

Every 5 years or so, our Parliament tenders out a contract (Mandate) for the next Governmental term. Let’s say Corporations (Political Parties) vie for this Mandate, with Candidates/Manifestoes /Campaigns. Given time, the People (Electorate) vote to employ a Corporation, granting them the mandate to govern. The elected Corporation takes a legal oath(new Government swears in Parliament) to serve its citizens. Next, Government discusses/approves (Debates) a strategic plan (Budget) to implement its programs. Please Check. NONE of the above business can proceed without proper authorization granted by Law, or voted upon and ratified by the Directors and Peoples’ Chairman (Parliamentary Members and the GG.)

Occasionally Government convenes in Parliament to review plans and seeks legal authorization to make operational adjustments. Meanwhile, our Constitution grants Government limited and separate powers to administrate the rule of Law under its Executive and Legislative branches. Similarly, The Judiciary is required to perform its duty, independent to and unencumbered by Government, dispensing justice and fair-play to The People. The Supreme Law of the land is what governs all its citizens: Parliamentarians, Judiciary, individuals and corporations alike.

Unless the citizens violate the law, the law does not harm its citizens. It protects them. Why instead, does it seem like Government is allowed to overreach its boundaries, by retroactively unfixing the laws which provide the people’s last resort recourse for justice (reversing the people’s legal privileges), while, at the same time, is rewarding Government itself with powers to bend other laws in its own favour? Why should our Supreme laws undergo such abuse?

Why should the People sit idly by, seeing their privileges being taken away, just for absolutely reposing them into the hands of the DPP?

To Vincentians, these amendments represent an overreach by their Government. To my mind (Business-wise, and comparatively speaking) Government’s retroactively amending these laws is tantamount to misappropriation; likened to the mishandling of resources not mandated to a Corporate Director to use; resources which, originally and expressly, belong to its employer (The People). In strict business terms, this is also reprehensible by the laws of our land.

As mentioned, I stand corrected if my conjecture is misleading, but the aforementioned was advanced just to demonstrate to Vincentians that owning the Government is only legitimate, because the Government of the day lawfully belongs to all its citizens, even to those not allowed to vote. Government’s tinkering with the law for self-serving purposes, is the sole reason why all Vincentians must regard the current impasse as a legal issue, not as a political one, and one which calls for them to protest against the misuse of our Laws.

Additionally, therefore, if our citizens could somehow appreciate what has just been explained, then the slogan “Owning The Government,” if/when only narrowly viewed as a challenge to divide and rule our citizens, (as one camp charged up against the other), the Prime Minister then will have become irresponsible by creating Political drama only to deflect the focus of our citizens in recognizing that every oppressed Vincentian should stand united in the defense of his/her rights, and for the just and supreme rule of the Laws. So the Prime Minister, as a member of the legal fraternity, knows our democratic rights. The People are the Legit Owners of Government, so why divide us today, when previously it was …(or is it still) “Together Now”?

And so in closing, The Government is owned by The People, and is ruled by the laws of our land. Democratically speaking, it has always been so, and not the other way around. No one could adequately justify why these retroactive amendments were rushed past our Parliament. Ultimately, they should not proceed, and must be rescinded. For the moment, we are at the mercy of the Prime Minister, who states that he stands advised to have these amendments go before a Select Committee. I put it to you, however, that there are many reasons why these ill-conceived and unjustified amendments are unnecessary: a misuse of excess powers which should not have surfaced in the first place. But that’s another matter I leave in reserve. For the time being, the Vincentian masses must remain wary of Government’s political maneuvers, and must refuse to be entertained by political charades displayed in our Parliament, under the disguise of lawful and legal Parliamentary procedure.

Law presides over Politics. Don’t tamper with the laws our land. Rescind these Amendments.