January 4, 2001
By KURT GARCIA
Surely all our Political Commentators, Constitutional Analyst and Experts would agree that it is not the intention of our present democratic electoral system, to create a scenario where ruling party losers are rewarded en masse and non ruling party winners because of those rewards are deliberately targeted to be undermined and delegitimised as an expressed political strategy.
To make matters more unpalatable, the funds of taxpayers [all of us] are to be engaged for what is for all intent and practical purposes, a partisan political venture.
However it must be made clear that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea that a Prime Minister should utilize the talents, real or perceived of any citizen whether they lost an electoral contest or not. The challenge is to initiate Constitutional reform as a nation building project and not as an instrument for partisan political ascendancy whether expressed, not expressed or implied. What the President is now doing may seem to be wrong to some, in that they are claiming he has no clear legal authority. But the mere fact, that there is a check and balance on Prime Ministerial or executive authority, is sufficient reason for my support of the President. You see the framers of the Constitution foresaw the possibility that the President as being a non partisan symbol and repository of the integrity of the State, would at sometime or the other, through decisions made, be subject to legal challenges for his so doing. So in it's foresight it has guaranteed that right of immunity in law for a President only and not a Prime Minister. If it was to be any other way then a President could be replaced easily by a rubber stamp on a desk in the Office of the Prime Minister.
The mere fact that a Prime Minister was not able to wake up one morning and at the tip of a hat or blink of the eye drastically alter the terms of our previously agreed democratic electoral norms, is an extremely healthy sign in the evolution of our Constitutional democracy. When one remembers that in the last Parliament to change a Dangerous Dogs Act, a special majority was needed, what the Prime Minister is now doing is taking our tried, agreed, tested but still imperfect system, turning it upside down and crudely attempting to change the concept that all winners of parliamentary elections and not losers are those through whom the Prime Minister and the Executive must now deal and interact if the system is to be democratic. He must and should be a Prime Minister of the entire nation including those constituents and constituencies that voted against him and deal with them through their elected representatives. Any other course of action subverts the system and increases the chances for national disharmony being the order of the day, and provides the quickest recipe for marginalisation and alienation, and a rampant parasitic oligarchy.
No Prime Minister should ever feel that he has unbridled power and can be seen to be exploiting loopholes legally or illegally in the Constitution as an option or an alternative to Constitution reform and the practice of ethical politics and good governance. There might just be a President who would not be afraid to use a Constitutional provision that gives him the right to take an action that cannot be legally challenged to safeguard the integrity of our electoral system. To which some unscrupulous people see nothing wrong in tampering with and committing illegal acts to gain political advantage. The President cannot and should not be choosing Senators for an elected Prime Minister, but he can choose to defend the State from actions that in any way surreptitiously comprises the integrity of the system we operate under.
Next stop, the E.B.C.
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