I really don’t care who runs the country. Be it UNC, COP, PNM or any other trilogy of capital letters, all I want is a government whose first concern is improving the lives of its citizens rather than their own.
Is it too much to ask, I sometimes ponder.
I have no doubt that every government minister across the globe enjoys a much better lifestyle after government service than they had before. But that’s okay if it’s been earned by delivering sterling service to their nation.
For instance, if a lawyer becomes a minister and performs with integrity, it is entirely understandable that when he leaves public office his practice grows. Perhaps he may also be awarded an ambassadorship or a seat on a state board.
These are all acceptable rewards for, what in most cases, is a stressful, responsible position that may often be lower paid than their usual career. Granted, there may be an element of favouritism or cronyism but if the former public servant has performed with integrity, honesty and always sought the country’s best interests, we can forgive him some post-government perks.
But what if they haven’t served with integrity? What if they have served themselves before their country?
In these instances, it sticks in one’s craw to see dishonest, untrustworthy people still benefitting after public service splattered with the effluence of shady deals, untruths and actions verging on illegality.
So where do the people go from here? We had the removal of the UNC government after the Piarco Airport affair and the removal of the PNM government after the Calder Hart scandal.
Up to now, we were not surprised to find the people we voted for were lining their pockets, or at least, turning a blind eye while their friends pocketed taxpayers’ dollars. But now we have a new species of Minister, one who will actually write laws solely for the purpose of allowing their friends to evade justice.
Whatever your take on Section 34, there are undisputable facts that cannot be explained away by those who concocted this clever scheme. It is still to be explained why the members of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister and Attorney General who recently lifted themselves to the rank of Senior Counsel, failed to spot the loophole created. It is still to be explained why the Attorney General was not held responsible for this “error” along with Minister Volney.[pullquote_left]So, if we are to maintain an iota of belief in our system of government, a public inquiry into Section 34, with the full cooperation of the Government must take place immediately.[/pullquote_left]
This is not a simple matter of corruption. This is an instance where a government possibly conspired to pervert the course of justice. Whether it was a massive coincidence or a case of inattentiveness at a crucial time, it warrants a public inquiry.
A Bill cannot pass through Parliament, Senate and Cabinet room without documentation, minutes, legal opinions, notes and emails.
So, if we are to maintain an iota of belief in our system of government, a public inquiry into Section 34, with the full cooperation of the Government must take place immediately.
The Government gave its word to Parliament and Senate and then tried to sneak a piece of fractured legislation past the whole country.
How do we rebuild our faith in our Government unless we can bring to justice those who abused the power given to them by the citizens?
And how do we stand by, in less than three years time, when these same Ministers leave office to take up their lucrative careers and manage their burgeoning property portfolios built on the grave of our belief in the Westminster system of government?
There must be retribution. There must be payback. There must be a public inquiry. And it must happen now.
Do you think the Government should be pushed to call an Inquiry into Section 34? Let us read your thoughts in the “Comments” section.
Editor’s Note: This column is written by guest contributors who can use their real identities , a pen name or simply “None of the Above.” Contributors should write to to firstname.lastname@example.org.