Daily Archives: December 1, 2006

Barbados Leaders Give Independence Day Messages

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Two Leaders, Two Messages…

Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s message can be found here.

Leader Of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, David Thompson’s message can be found here.

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Filed under Barbados, History, Politics & Corruption

Barbados As A Republic? …Not Until The Process and Our Government Are Open And Accountable, Thanks!

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Beware Those Who Rush To An Undefined Republic

As our thoughts turn to the future on the 40th anniversary of our Independence, the word “Republic” is whispered with reverence in some circles. Many want to see Barbados as a republic simply on principle – to rid ourselves of the last vestige of colonialism. They argue, “Can we ever be truly and proudly independent when our Head of State is a foreigner who lives in Britain?” Some even say, “If Charles is to be King, then it’s time to leave.”

Some want to “divorce” Britain to punish that country for transporting slaves to Barbados. (As I’ve said before, I’m sorry what my ancestors went through, but I’m not terribly upset to be a Bajan instead of still living in, say, Rwanda or Nigeria.)

While there may or may not be good political, economic or legal reasons for Barbados becoming a republic, to most people, the issue is decided upon an emotional feeling of nationalism. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with lofty idealism and national pride driving the discussion about becoming a republic, we must be careful that we know what we are getting into before we make the leap.

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Thanks For The Offer, Mr. Prime Minister – But No Blank Cheque For You!

Both Prime Minister Owen Arthur and Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley have indicated in the past that they want Bajans to approve a Republic BEFORE we know what form that republic and and it’s laws would take.

The PM and his co-conspirators want a blank cheque from the Bajan people to let the political and economic elites define just what the New Republic will be. (Hello to all those Plato fans out there!)

Back in October of 2000, the Owen Arthur government tried to push a bill through Parliament that would have seen Bajans vote upon a referendum question without having any details of what they were voting for. The government was basically asking for a mandate to do whatever it wanted, and it hasn’t stopped trying to achieve that ability to act without real consultation or accountability.

In January of 2005, Prime Minister Arthur announced that then Attorney-General Mia Mottley would be presenting a bill to Parliament to amend the Constitution. (See our story original story here.) Then in April of 2006, Mia Mottley announced that the new Constitution was being held up “because the Government has given a commitment to ask Barbadians a question on this matter.” (Original BFP story here.)

Note the phrasing by “Mama Mia” Mottley. The government will ask A question on this matter. No general discussion, no hearings, to extensive process to involve all citizens in shaping our new country. No process laid out at all. Nope.

Mia and Owen just want to get that “yes” on the ballot any way they can so they can do whatever they want!

And Here Comes The Killer…

Bajans would be fools to let any politicians embark upon a process to becoming a republic without first defining in great detail, and publically, what the process will be!

This is so basic that it shouldn’t even have to be mentioned – but we do have to point it out because no other Bajan media talks about this most important and fundamental step.

So, number one: we have to agree upon a process that is transparent and accountable.

Why We Shouldn’t Trust Any Barbados Politicians Right Now

Let’s say that we agree upon a process: How are we then to ensure that the process is followed and that all the politicians are acting for the good of Barbados and not narrow self-serving interests?

With no Integrity and Conflict of Interest Legislation in place, there is nothing in law to prohibit a politician from misusing their position.

With no Freedom Of Information Laws, citizens have no mechanism to force misbehaving government and politicians to reveal records that prove misuse of position.

This is not about whether Owen Arthur, David Thompson, Mia Mottley or any other politician is a good or honest person. The system is faulty. It lacks the laws that make people accountable for their improper actions, and it lacks the mechanisms in law that allow citizens to examine the activities of their elected and appointed representatives.

A Message To Prime Minister Owen Arthur & His Friends Co-Conspirators

Don’t talk about forming a republic when you refuse to put in place Integrity and Conflict of Interest legislation – and Freedom of Information laws giving citizens access to the information they require to hold public officials accountable.

Mr. Prime Minister, your refusal to institute Integrity and Conflict of Interest legislation marks you as a privileged elite who views ordinary citizens with contempt.

In the Prime Minister’s mind, we (ordinary Bajans) don’t need any protection against the wrong-doing of public officials. The Prime Minister’s word that “everything be ok” should be enough.

Such assurances show contempt for ordinary Bajan citizens. Nothing more or less.

Sir Frederick Smith Cautions On Rushing Into A Republic

Sir Frederick Smith warns Bajans…

“We must have the constitution drafted and if any government – DLP (Democratic Labour Party) or BLP (Barbados Labour Party) – come without you having an opportunity as an intelligent person to read, to ask somebody about it, do not vote for a republic. Vote against it.”

From The Nation News…

Don’t vote to turn Barbados into a republic unless you first see the new constitution.

Retired jurist Sir Frederick Smith gave Barbadians this piece of advice last Saturday during a discussion on the 40th anniversary of the island’s Independence at the Mount Zion’s Missions church in Rock Dundo,
St James.

“People should not vote for a republic until they see the constitution, to make sure that it is better in a sense to the one we have now,” the former Court of Appeal judge advised.

“We must have the constitution drafted and if any government – DLP (Democratic Labour Party) or BLP (Barbados Labour Party) – come without you having an opportunity as an intelligent person to read, to ask somebody about it, do not vote for a republic. Vote against it.”

Sir Frederick, once an attorney-general in a DLP Government, and former BLP minister Lionel Craig, comprised the panel discussing Barbados: Life After 40 – Uphill Or Downhill?

Both had some areas of agreement, including the position that Barbadians had made strides in several fields after Independence in 1966, and on the importance of moving from a monarchial system of government to a republican one.

“I’m all for republic,” Sir Frederick declared, “but I am not voting for a republic until I see the constitution . . .. Draft the constitution. Let me see how you’re going to select the president, how you’re going to dismiss the president, whether my fundamental rights are being safeguarded under the republican constitution.

… Read the entire article at The Nation News (link here)

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Filed under Barbados, Politics & Corruption