Saturday, November 24, 2012

Guest Commentary - Let's evaluate the opposition too

November 2012 commemorates exactly 2 ½ years of the ascendency of Kamla Persad Bissessar as the first female Premier of our Republic. 

Much has already been written about her captaincy, her rotation of the fast bowlers, the shuffling of the batting order and of the techniques engaged on the political field. 

And much more would be written in the next 2 ½ years. Thus far, the UNC political leader has defied the opinionated critics, all of whom expected her to plummet horizontally under pressure and shrivel under the political sun long before the “half-way bridge.”

In this 2 ½ year period however, it appears that social and political commentary has centred solely on the Partnership’s performance. Indeed, accountable and transparent Government is both a desire of the people and a dictate of our Constitution. 

But there has been a literal dearth and starvation of a review of the Opposition’s performance in office. Under the Westminster/Whitehall political model to which our Republic subscribes, there is an elected Government and Opposition who collectively constitute the Governance structure. 

Are we therefore, as a civilised democracy, also under an equal obligation to scrutinize and analyse the Opposition’s performance or lack thereof, in governance? 

And if we are so obligated, why have we failed in this assessment of governance as opposed to government? Why have the established media, alternative media and new social media been reluctant to evaluate the Opposition and to rate its performance in the last 2 ½ years.

The illustration of section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act demonstrates this point with clarity. The Opposition has sought to twist, twirl, curl, coil, spin and politically gyrate the section 34 issue. 

The country would have taken note of the Government’s swift and decisive action on section 34 and would have compared that with the Opposition’s protracted and prolonged attempt to keep it within the public sphere. 

But what about the legislation taken as a whole? As a party within the governance structure what was the Opposition’s meaningful response and alternative to the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act? What meaningful alternatives have they offered?

The Partnership has sought through this Act, to provide for a new system of pre-trial proceedings relating to indictable offences. It is a reflection of the commitment of the Government to overhaul the criminal justice system through the removal of the endemic backlog associated with preliminary enquiries. 

Unfortunately, our nation has lost sight of the true meaning, spirit and intent of the legislation taken as a whole and not in parts. Has anyone in the Opposition offered a single alternative solution towards a speedy judicial process which would eventually redound to our benefit in the fight against crime?

The time has come for us to critically assess the Opposition. Consideration must be given to its performance in the Parliament; from the alternative laws they have proposed to its strategic vision for government. Only then can we rationally, judiciously and reasonably analyze governance. 

We have a responsibility to the next generation to also delete and send to the political recycle bin invective commentaries from parliamentarians, journalists and parliamentarians turn journalists who harp on the Prime Minister’s ethnic background, religious persuasion at birth and at maturity, her hairstyle or the colour of her footwear. 

Failure to so do may be interpreted by the next generation as having been engaged in a “political and intellectual hunger strike” of our own. 

Ashvani Mahabir | 

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai