Seemingly out of the blue, our Constitution has taken centre stage in our politics; which, given the pervasiveness of politics in Guyana, means in our lives! It seems our world’s now divided into “BD21” and “AD21” – Before Dec 21 and After Dec 21! With the defining event not being the birth of the Messiah, which took place 4 days later, but the NCM birthed by the PPP!!
The defining characteristic of life in AD21 is to wake up every morning to read in each of the dailies at least two exegesis on one or other articles of the Constitution. The state mouthpiece, the Chronic, of course marches to its own drum beaten by the PM and his lackeys! It has an idiosyncratic (indeed, aberrational!) take on matters, but that’s to be expected. The mouth is muzzled by the hand that feeds it and all that, and with the amount of “feeding” the PM demands, he’s permanently muzzled!!
But maybe there’s a silver lining behind the dark clouds gathered over the courts by the PNC’s grasping at straws in their desperate efforts to eke out enough time to consummate their plans to “fix” the next elections. With the word “fix” used as in “fixing” a dog by neutering it!! And what’s this silver lining? Well, just like when you don’t fix something that ain’t broken, you ought to fix it if it IS broken, don’t you?? And with all this back and forthing on the Constitution in all the courts all the way up to the CCJ, it’s quite clear the Constitution is broken.
But is anyone surprised? We shouldn’t be, with the evidence abounding all around us. When you have to have the word “or” parsed by the courts because the PNC won’t accept its unambiguous meaning, something’s certainly rotten in the State of Guyana. And that’s not just the AFC’s dead meat!! It also goes beyond the PNC’s caviling over the meaning of “majority”.
It has to do with the genesis of the 1980 Constitution, promulgated by the PNC after they rigged the 1973 elections to give themselves a 2/3 majority to do whatever they wanted to draft in this personal constitutional. Burnham then converted the National Assembly into a “Constituent Assembly” that didn’t accept “an iota” of outside suggestions. He even had a “fixed” referendum in 1978 to make sure he won’t need a referendum to approve his creation!
What’s needed is a national discourse on the very issues that have risen to the surface in the last 4 months – especially the racial fears and suspicions – and then have a true Constituent Assembly draft a new constitution that addresses them.
Guyana: the Second Republic!!
With the PNC revealing their spots, we offer a perspective by Karl Popper from his magnum opus, “The Open society and its enemies”.
“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.?—?In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.
“But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols.
“We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”
Renouncing US citizenship costs US$2350; Canada, CAD$100 and the Brits – not even a pence.
Is this proportional to their value?