Apr 26, 2012 Letters
The recent discussions coming from the political leadership on matters such as the budget, national interest, rights and the rule of law are interesting in that they offer insights into their thinking, and the implications of said thoughts in informing their decisions, which will ultimately impact our collective wellbeing.
No politician can honestly come to any discussion on the nation’s business without acknowledging this is a diverse nation, and such diversity is protected in the Constitution which outlines the rights of all and holding all equal before the law, as critical to the goal of forging a nation where peaceful co-existence and equitable development are the norm.
No politician can honestly come to the national discussion without acknowledging the socio-economic disparities, festering and open conflicts among groups. Thus, in making any national decision, budgetary and otherwise, it requires similar honesty and grit to recognize that fixing the problems require making decisions informed by the Constitution.
Diversity of interests, physical characteristics and others, while some see opportunity to exploit or reason to ignore, those who swear to uphold the Constitution have a duty and responsibility to weld the diverse sections together to “celebrate our cultural and racial diversity and strengthen our unity by eliminating any and every form of discrimination.”
As equal as the Constitution recognises our diversity, it protects our human rights and guarantees protection from discrimination on the grounds of race etc, by ensuring the involvement of groups in the management and national decision making processes of the State on matters that affect their wellbeing.
Refer to the Preamble, Title 1, Title 1A and Article 13, “Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual,” “Protection of Human Rights” and “Objective of Political System,” respectively. In so far that any political leader comes to the national discourse and involvement, after being given the mandate of the people to represent them, and fails to recognize and operate on behalf of these constitutional principles, s/he poses a threat to our collective wellbeing.
Further, our national interest is governed by our Constitution and laws following therefrom, and any threat to these foundations poses a threat to us. This threat can come from persons indigenous and external to the State, including those doing business with the State or on behalf of the State.
As a member/partner of the global society, Guyana is equally bound to adhere to international conventions and laws and universal declarations, and hold those doing businesses with us to said standards. This modus operandi is built on the international principle that free trade must be accompanied by fair trade, i.e. there must be a level playing field and all must play by the same rules.
Thus when sacred concepts like principles, national interest, rights and the rule of law are used by the politicians, we must ensure they are premised on the above. Becoming ever prevalent in the national discourse is the use of these concepts, absent of applying universal standards and mouthed by those committing acts of violation.
These leaders who talk the talk and don’t walk the walk must hear from us because they pose a serious threat to the goal of peaceful co-existence and equitable development. Such misappropriations of the concepts also make worse efforts at resolving conflicts that inevitably flow from diversity/competing interests, and moreso make the oppressed, marginalized and discriminated against feel their deprivations are matter of birth and not social.
If deprivation is the result of birth, change is not naturally expected to occur in one’s lifetime. If deprivation is seen as social, which it is because man is a social being, then efforts will be made to make changes and people will be energized and motivated to change their circumstances.
As such rights, and any law following therefrom, are non-negotiable. No one must be placed in any circumstance, or made to feel that s/he is destined to be discriminated against and/or have to give up a right in order to enjoy another right. These are sacred values fought for and won on the blood, sweat and tears of our forebears and must be zealously guarded and defended. It only takes an individual/group to violate a single right of another with the support of other(s) and/or those elected to represent the interests of all, before such violation becomes the new norm.
Forty-six years after collectively securing the right to self determination, i.e. political independence, this stage of our existence should be realizing the strengthening of our rights, laws and national interest, based on the universal principles of equality and peaceful co-existence.
Our politicians need to return to the drawing board and understand the sacredness of the concepts some so freely chant, even as they engage in acts that violate these sacred tenets or communicate their support for same by the messages they transmit. They must equally arm themselves with knowledge of the Constitution, international conventions and universal declarations before speaking and engaging in any matter pertaining to the nation’s business and on behalf of the nation’s people. In this business there is no room for ignorance, arrogance, tardiness and charlatans, especially from those who promised different and elected to right the wrongs.
The citizens yearn to live in a society where equality, prosperity and peaceful co-existence are the norm. But this is largely reliant on the politicians giving leadership in ensuring the enabling environment for respecting our rights, including the laws that protect these rights. For this is what they have been elected to do and must deliver on.
As citizens, ours become the responsibility and duty to hold them accountable, bar none, in ensuring the removal of any and all barrier(s) that hinder our aspirations as informed by our Constitution.
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