Wednesday, May 14, 2008

100% Jamaican Allegiance:Non- Discriminatory

“It is abundantly clear that the constitution does not confer on every Jamaican citizen the right to be elected as a Member of the House of Representatives.” McCalla CJ.

There have been calls to abolish the constitutional provisions which stipulate the requisite citizenship status of the Members of Parliament and Senators.

It is being mused that given the age of globalization and the significant financial importance of the Jamaican Diaspora, the current provisions are obsolete, inimical to good governance and provide an unnecessary obstacle to the development of the country.

It is being proposed that there should be a full public debate and the requisite procedures invoked to amend the now controversial provisions.


The need for constitutional reform cannot be disputed in light of the changing world environment and the local socio-political realities which a fundamentally different from those informing its conception.

It is also evident that those who are offending the present constitutional provisions are ineligible to participate in any parliamentary debate, ineligible to participate on any decisions on the topic, and ineligible to legislate any recommended amendments. The House of Representatives must be cleansed of all offending members prior to any such national debate.

Prior declaration of personal citizenship status by contributors--inside or outside the House-- to such a debate will alleviate speculation of vested self-interest masquerading as “principled” positions.

Contending Perspectives

There are number of perspectives being advanced with substantial supporting arguments. These can be arranged into three broad categories:

  • The Abolitionists argue that there should be no restrictions on anyone holding Jamaican citizenship from participating in the governance of Jamaica at any level.
  • The Nationalists argue that only Jamaican citizens should be allowed in Parliament. Consequently, the laws and regulations governing the process should be amended to read “citizen of the Jamaican state only” – or words to that effect.
  • The Fence Sitters argue that there is no need for any amendment to the constitutional provisions in question. However the nomination papers should require that the proposed candidate states that he is not a citizen of any non-commonwealth state.

Full 100%

It can be argued that there are certain positions within the administration of any independent nation-state which should be held by persons having undivided allegiance to the nation-state involved. These positions are of critical importance to the conduct of the nation’s interaction with the international community and of symbolic /emotional aspect of being an independent state – i.e. national identity.

Special care should be exercised in compiling such a listing; with due consideration being given to the technical capabilities required and the availability of the requisite expertise willing to fulfill the citizenship requirement. At the very minimum, there are certain critical positions which would necessitate undivided allegiance to a politically independent sovereign nation-state. As the nation-state matures, it is to be expected that the number of core positions filled by exclusively Jamaican citizens will increase--even without the legislative injunction.

The members of the Jamaican Diaspora have made, and continue to make, formidable contributions to the socio-economic development of Jamaica. There is no constitutional bar to their involvement at any level of the Jamaican society, except in critical governmental functions. If they wish to participate at that level, then they should simply renounce their acquired citizenship status and return to the 100% Jamaican status.

The Regulations need to be amended to ensure that each nominated individual affirms that he has no other citizenship than Jamaica. It is being contended that the amendment should not differentiate Jamaicans with dual citizenship by selecting the other type of citizenship that is allowed. It is either that we allow dual citizenship or disallow dual citizenship.

Politically, what is good for Jamaicans in the USA must be the same for those in the UK, Canada, Singapore, Kenya and also for those in Barbados, Cayman or Cuba.

The above may prove controversial; suffice it to say, the existing constitutional provisions may support that position – depending on the interpretation accorded by the courts.

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