Saturday, May 17, 2008

From Politicians to Pikni

Entourage. The Tudors. Gossip Girls. C-Span? Yes, one of the best forms of entertainment any couch potato can receive is by watching C-Span - that frequently ignored channel that you probably would opt to remove from your listing if it would reduce your monthly cable bill. Though its incessant discussion of world politics may sound dreary, C-Span's regular coverage of the sitting of the House of Lords in England is one of the best forms of entertainment on television - what's more exciting than watching educated, aristocratic English men act like children, throwing political salvos at each other? (I call it a classier form of two ladies on Albert Street arguing about the better political party, e.g: "Lady 1: Musa deh pah yo side gial!"..."Lady 2: Which side? Mi backside!") But alas, there IS something more entertaining that this C-Span spectacle: Watching our politicians act like children as they debate at their own House meetings. The latest sitting last Wednesday proved to be the quintessential example. Ministers from both parties abuse this 'people-given' privilege, using the House as a forum to bicker more about personal disputes than serious social problems affecting the people they represent. It is time for both sides to emphasize meaningful propaganda rather than mere personal rhetoric that seek to embarrass each other and worse, slander the essence of democratic unity.

Aside from this personal bickering, there were in fact several key points from Wednesday's meeting that I would like to briefly highlight:

  • Isn't it funny how being demoted to the opposition party radically changes one's views? Take Musa, Briceno, Espat, (Francis) Fonseca, and Hyde for example. After the government presented arguments for the now controversial Referendum Amendment Bill, these members of the former regime admonished the government for attempting to pass a bill that allegedly would "revoke citizens' constitutional rights" (paraphrasing Musa). Now after the countless bills that were passed over the previous ten years that jeopardized the livelihoods of countless Belizeans, these Ministers should be the last to chastise their fellow politicians. I think except for Mark Espat and Cordel Hyde, the other members of the opposition have little credibility.
  • As for the Bill itself, its provisions does in fact seem to infringe on the personal liberty granted by the Constitution. The 60% factor (the amount of the population needed for any referendum to pass) is irrelevant to me. The amount of signatures necessary is equally irrelevant. The most important factor is the "the removal of the requirement for an automatic referendum on any proposed change to part 2 of the Constitution of Belize." (quoting Mark Espat)
  • Finally, I realize that many may scoff at point #1's reference to 'democratic unity.' I freely admit that I hesitated when typing that. While I admit it sounds naive, it does not detract from its truth. I am an admirer of political systems that allow for unity on issues from both political parties - and yes, these systems do exist! The Referendum Amendment Bill would be the perrrrrrrrrfect opportunity for our Ministers to stop acting like immature bigots by coming to a consensus, for once. The parameters of the Bill are negotiable if both parties are simply willing to negotiate (informally of course). It is time that politics in Belmopan evolves from its zero-sum system, where one party wins and the other party loses. At the end of the day, its the people who lose, having wasted precious time to stand in line and vote for men who are incapable of resolving pressing issues facing the country.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dean Barrow and the Twist of FATE! - and the multiple court cases against Lord Ashcroft

When a few months ago the then PUP administration wanted to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the Court of Last Appeal for Belize, replacing the Privy Council in London (I fully agree with and support this move), the PUP did not have the necessary three fourths majority in the House of Representatives to pass the necessary amendment to the Constitution. The then Leader of the Opposition. Dean Barrow, refused to support the move, later agreeing only after attempting to 'blackmail the government', i.e. making demands on the Government that would have emasculated the PUP. The motion was withdrawn.

FATE is now has a cynical smile for Dean Barrow, now Prime Minister, and blessed with the the required three fourths majority! IF ..... if only he had agreed to replace the Privy Council with the CCJ back then, he would not have to worry about the Lord dragging him and the Government across the Atlantic in the multiple court cases against Ashcroft, should the Lord not have his way.

"Bottom Line"