Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Impatient for change

Published:Thursday | February 25, 2016 | 2:04 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Has your paper ever been puzzled by terminal indecision for the life of a government ... even when you profit from it? Have you ever known persons whose lives were discombobulated or business turned upside down by the activities for a projected uncertain election day?

I support a fixed date for elections. Shouldn't everyone let their views known to demand a change?

Have your directors ever found themselves in the position of wanting to support a member of parliament (MP) who is not in the political party they would prefer for government? Shouldn't they say so for the sake of transparency as purveyors of news?

Have you ever known persons wanting to support a member of parliament who is in the wrong party ... as far as they are concerned? Shouldn't they do something about it?

Have you ever heard a members of parliament mourning over their inability to provide adequate security, water, roads or health services because only the prime minister and his/her Cabinet decide how the taxpayers' money is spent - who gets what, when and how? Shouldn't something be done about it?

Have a look at how a prime minister is appointed; it is at section 70 of the constitution. Essentially, the appointment is made by the governor general in his discretion. The governor general is appointed by Her Majesty and holds office during Her Majesty's pleasure to be Her Majesty's representative in Jamaica (section 27).

First of all, such an important office as prime minister - the head of the government in Jamaica - should be elected by the people and not selected by Her Majesty's representative in Jamaica. Second, the prime minister should not be selected by the governor general from among the elected majority members of the House of Representatives, thus binding the MP to the PM's Cabinet, for better or worse, when all politics is local. It may be workable in Britain, but not as well in Jamaica where the MPs independence is compromised when all politics is local. Here, it is not only a recipe for mismanagement and corruption in governance, it is a constitutional irregularity for democratic governance where separation of powers between the executive and the legislative arms of government is sacred.

It is time to elect a prime minister separate from your member of parliament. This can be done by a simple majority vote in Parliament that is impatient for change. Otherwise, changes like the Caribbean Court of Justice, on whom we must rely for equal rights and justice, will be presiding over an inherited, effete and ineffectual system of governance.

Frank Phipps

QC