Sunday, May 18, 2008

Roll Call or Death Knell

It must be noteworthy that the editors of two Jamaican newspapers have echoed the call for Members of Parliament to declare their citizenship status. From as early as September 13, 2007 the Sunday Herald wrote:
“The Jamaican Constitution is very clear regarding who can be elected to the House of Representatives or be appointed to the Senate. No person shall be qualified to be appointed as a senator or elected as a member of the House of Representatives who by virtue of his own act acquires citizenship of a foreign power.
The legal issues aside, on what grounds are persons who are citizens of another country allowed to sit in our parliament and make laws, which we are obliged to obey? Such persons can catch the next plane and go home if anything goes wrong without being accountable.
Additionally, is it right for tax dollars to be used to pay members of Parliament who are foreigners? And is it not dishonest for persons whether representing the
People’s National Party or the Jamaica Labour Party to present themselves as candidates for election without declaring their nationality?
The Parliament, with fewer than 100 persons especially entrusted to make laws, and run the affairs of the country are accountable to the Jamaican people. Therefore, their loyalty and allegiance should not be diluted, divided or diverted.
Against this background, we are calling for all members elected and nominated for parliament to declare their Jamaican citizenship before the next parliament is sworn in.”

Some eight months later on Sunday May 18, 2008 the Sunday Gleaner editorial opined under the caption "MPs must declare citizenship status".

“While we would want to believe that decency and morality would propel the members to do the right thing, we are clear that this is a matter that ought not be left only to the individual parliamentarians. Indeed, the Speaker should ask for a declaration from each member of his or her citizenship status, and from there, seek a judicial review of those whom he may deem to be in breach. The party leaders need, at the same time, to fashion a response to the potential fallout.”
In Over to You Mr. Speaker we posited the view that the Speaker, having the overarching responsibility to ensure that the parliament was properly constituted, could not ignore the ruling of Chief Justice McCalla in the Dabdoub/Vaz case. Consequently, an enquiry should be made into the citizen status of each Member of Parliament and those running afoul should be removed from Parliament. This would also apply to the Speaker.

This course of action has very serious political consequences as there are reasons to believe that there are more offending members on the Government side that on the Opposition benches. Accordingly, given the slim majority now enjoyed by the Government, there is the very real possibility that the Government could lose its majority at the end of the day. This is the political conundrum in the regime now finds itself as the logical and inevitable outcome to its political procrastination.

In Why a General, we advanced what we thought were cogent reasons for the holding of a general election. Increasingly it appears that the JLP regime has backed itself into a corner. Even the Observer in its editorial cartoon of Sunday May 18, 2008 has been forced to come to this position reluctantly.

From the information currently available,any such roll call will sound the death knell of this JLP Government. A general election has now proven to be the last straw for a drowning regime under a morass of what was incorrectly described as a "constitutional technicality".

Source: The Jamaica Observer

No comments: