Vincent Lynch concludes his commentary on our Constitution. Part 1 appeared on this page in last Sunday’s issue.
Such arrangements would allow for adequate coverage of the weaknesses in the society, and for the use of a wide range of human capital in addressing those weaknesses, one of which must be seen as the political framework which now exists.
Of course, one such weakness which must be addressed is the seeming impotence displayed by public officials in following the dictates of the Constitution and also, as is being advocated in different segments of the society, the passing of amendments to the Constitution which would both recognise and address the stark realities which now exist as against the societal imperatives of the 1962 era.
Imagine the range of possibilities and the potential for advancement if all representatives in both Houses of Parliament are driven by word and deed by what is stated in the Constitution and also by the oaths taken. Imagine further if the Judiciary and those other institutions responsible for upholding the law are also so guided.
Stretch your imagination even lower down the decision-making and administrative ladder and so come to understand the true meaning of transformational change or paradigm shift, or doing more with less, whatever you may wish to call it.
What we should be in search of at this time is a strong and continuous national thrust towards improving the national stock, in the process of which that enthusiasm, integrity, astute leadership and professional prowess of the immediate post-colonial period must be reinvented and become the driving force in the thinking and activity of both public and private sector institutions.
Be again reminded of our claim to have the “finest minds”, let them come forward, let us hear them, especially at this time when annual Budgets are in excess of $50bn, and a saving from waste and extravagance of say 10 per cent could take us a long way along the road ahead.
In this process it is of vital importance that all those placed in positions of trust must be true to their office and demonstrate true leadership in everything they say and do, in an effort to inspire and motivate their charges towards acceptable levels of performance and achievement.
Of course, in selecting individuals for leadership positions, those making the decisions must be true to their office and must select the right person for the right job, and in revoking any appointment where this appears to be in the public interest.
Perhaps we need to put the “nine-day wonder” behind us and seek to effectively learn from our own experience and that of others, especially those covering the 2005 to 2016 period, remembering the words “in life what is of importance is not simply what happens to a man, but rather what a man does with what happens to him”.
Repetition can at times be something of value as in those colonial days when we easily recited and paid due respect to the anthem “God save the Queen…….”, and even today there are those who still join in singing that anthem on hearing it. Incidentally there are many individuals who, after 55 years of independence are still struggling to sing our national anthem.
It is quite possible that oaths taken may not have had the desired impact on the minds and behaviour of those so required, perhaps simply because they had to do it to get the job. Why not therefore have individuals retake their oaths annually, in the case of Parliament, at the start of each Parliamentary Session; the Judiciary, at the opening of the new law term; and annually in the case of all others.
Should not members of State Boards, and Permanent Secretaries as Accounting Officers with serious responsibilities under the Exchequer and Audit Act, also be required to take oaths? Could this not be a stark reminder to all to do the right thing, and to do it right?
With respect to the earlier reference to constitutional reform there is the view that the Constitution “is of the people and for the people” and if this is indeed so, it should be understood that whatever is said and done in Parliament is in the name of the people; whatever is said and done on political platforms is in the name of the Party; and whatever is said and done in relation to constitutional reform must be related to the sole interests of the society, rather than that of the Party.
The Constitution is the highest law of the land and embodies that spirit which could give rise to a surge in nationalism and so produce desired levels of discipline, tolerance, and production from which we have increasingly strayed over the years.
The enforcement in our minds of the very tenets of the Constitution and the “will” to enforce the laws which support those tenets would be a valuable asset on which this country can progress.
The Constitution and the law are there to protect, preserve and inspire society to higher levels of existence. Let them be so used for the intended purpose as together we stride forward, trusting that the blessings of Almighty God would be with us and that our leaders would be so guided into doing those things which are good for our country and pleasing to Him.
Vincent Lynch has worked at the managerial level in both public and private sector organisations in Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana. He attends Masses and services at both Santa Rosa, Arima and Mount St Benedict, and considers himself a friend of the Society of St Vincent de Paul.