Categorized | Opinions

MY CONSTITUTION versus Their constitution

By Man from Baker Hill

My constitution is my intrinsic physical and psychological endowment; the environment in which I was brought up influenced it. My constitution is what determines my physical inheritance or my intellectual potential.

Although these days physically and mentally I function well, I am beginning to feel the effect of some ‘just arrived politicians’.  They weaken my constitution. I feel as if the fundamental components of my body and mind are being challenged; but thanks to the nourishment I received growing up, I shall survive the ‘just arrived political confusionists’. After all, I sleep well; I feel healthy; and every now and then I get an urge…to be a social and political critic.

Their constitution! The Montserrat constitution! That document of rights and powers! That is another matter; it has been distressing some ‘agents of confusion’ for twenty-one years. And good grief they are on the attack again!

Ha! Here is how I felt, how I feel and how I am likely to feel about their Constitution, forever.

Twenty-one years ago, 1989 to be exact, I was given a copy of the proposed Constitution and asked to study it and to comment on Section 16, the increased powers of the Governor. My comments were, “I have no problems with the Governor’s increased powers; because in ten or fifteen years Montserrat is likely to be an independent nation, and the Governor would be one of us.  We must have in our Constitution certain reserved though nominal powers for someone, whether a Governor or a Governor General”. I recall that those confusionists took a battalion of tag-along with them to discuss the document in London. I still have in my copy of the photocopied document. I am not new to the discussions on the Constitution. And I stand by those comments today.

In March 2002 I was invited by the Constitutional Review Commission to share my views on some issues; but regrettably I was unable to do so at the time. However my concerns then and now are the suitability of our political system to 21st century Montserrat and whether we should abandon the Westminster format. At that time I was concerned that politicians behaved as if they were the top civil servants in their ministries and I felt that we needed to establish very distinct accountability roles between the Legislative and the Administrative so that politicians will know that they set policy and that civil servants carry them out.  Otherwise I was and still am very comfortable with their Constitution. The Commission traveled abroad extensively to discuss the document; but the original confusionists made sure that the legislative council rejected their draft and recommendations.

In 2008 I was given a copy of the Montserrat Draft Constitutional Order and commentary on the revised Draft to read. It is on my desk even as I write this article. I have not read it. But when it was given to me I asked, what is so peculiar about Montserratians that it should take them such a long time to determine what they want in their Constitution.

I also asked, if the BVI, Anguilla, TCI and Cayman Islands can consult, discuss and agree on their Constitution, what is so special about Montserrat’s circumstances that after 21 years we cannot agree on what should be in ours.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in yet another discussion on our Constitution; but, as in 1989, the main issue to be discussed is the powers of the Governor given under Section 16 of the Constitution. I felt that we were taking a huge leap back to the late eighties environment to influence our Constitution.  And this time I told the expert, “Show me the constitutions of the BVI, TCI, Grenada and St. Vincent. Let me examine the powers of their Governors and the Governors General. Let me see for myself if fifteen years of ash inhalation created in us a certain degree of fear that separates us from otherwise reasonable people. Because just like the BVI nation, Montserrat is a colony of a Constitutional Monarchy, so why should Montserratians have greater fears of the Governor’s powers than the BV Islanders do”.

Still the confusion mongers, some now disguised as nouveau politicians, are busy spreading fears.  They imagine that fifty years from now a ‘British boy Governor’ would turn the island Montserrat into a huge observatory. So they tell stories of Diego Garcia. Some have become homophobic; so much so that they want enshrined in the Constitution restrictions of our children rights to their physical and psychological endowment.  Certainly all our politicians know that some of us are homosexuals and that by the time the Constitution is accepted many more Montserrations will be GAY or Bisexual. So why do they want to mess with our children human rights. If my she son wants to marry your he son, Constitution or not, they will; no one can stop them.

I can live with the Constitution just as it is. In fact they and I have been living with it, in peace security since 1989. Hear this, I fear not the British. I fear the agents of confusion, the ‘nouveau one – issue politicians’ who in 1997 caused 19 people to die in the eruption and 5000 Montserratians to flee to the welcoming British Isle.  Consultation is the corollary of confusion; I say, table the Bill, vote on it and get Montserrat on par with its counterparts.

Twenty-one years, 1989 to 2010, is too much time for a nation to harangue over what goes into the Constitution, even if it is the most important document. Twenty-one years of discussions and consultations have been carried out already; another twenty-one years of confusing chatter in the name of more consultations will not bring about meaningful change to the document.  And that is what I shall contribute to the confusultation on the Constitution.

My constitution! As I mentioned earlier, my constitution determines my intellectual potential. I can digress and expose myself as much as I want. And digress I will.

It has been said, judge a people by their action. Yes judge the British not because of your imagined fears but by their actions.  Between1989 and 1995 the British has funded a number of million dollar projects on Montserrat such as: the state of the art Glendon Hospital, Harris police station, the Harris school, the Library, the New Government Headquarters, the Resource Centre, The Cork Hill road and Salem Police Station. They came from Great Britain and took stolen cars off the streets of Plymouth and carried one back to London. They arrested our politicians too.

And since 1995 the British have come with their purse.  Ninety percent of every building that has been built since then has had a direct contribution from British taxpayers. Year after year they pay the civil servants salaries, pensions and gratuities. They funded the airport, the seaport, the schools, the colleges, the roads, the old people’s homes, the government offices and the residential homes at Lookout.  They refused to assent to the politicians pension bill; and they told us that civil servants were getting too much pension.  They built the police station, the fire station and the prison. The British forced us to pass the Integrity Bill too.

Show me a Montserratian who will do those things to help and to protect Montserratians from themselves; and I may call you a liar.

Montserratians, Constitutions are important, but to spend twenty-one years arguing over what go into yours is ridiculous.  It is very easy to compare your proposed Constitution with those of your island neighbors and incorporate meaningful changes. There is nothing very special about us except the amount of ash in our veins. Use your brain; do not be misled by people who are determined to hijack our forward journey with their unrealistic fears of the British and their demand for consultation and more consultation.

As for me, my constitution is getting weak; I am tired of confusultations. Believe me, their Constitutional talks have begun to outlive its usefulness.
.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Man from Baker Hill

My constitution is my intrinsic physical and psychological endowment; the environment in which I was brought up influenced it. My constitution is what determines my physical inheritance or my intellectual potential.

Although these days physically and mentally I function well, I am beginning to feel the effect of some ‘just arrived politicians’.  They weaken my constitution. I feel as if the fundamental components of my body and mind are being challenged; but thanks to the nourishment I received growing up, I shall survive the ‘just arrived political confusionists’. After all, I sleep well; I feel healthy; and every now and then I get an urge…to be a social and political critic.

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Their constitution! The Montserrat constitution! That document of rights and powers! That is another matter; it has been distressing some ‘agents of confusion’ for twenty-one years. And good grief they are on the attack again!

Ha! Here is how I felt, how I feel and how I am likely to feel about their Constitution, forever.

Twenty-one years ago, 1989 to be exact, I was given a copy of the proposed Constitution and asked to study it and to comment on Section 16, the increased powers of the Governor. My comments were, “I have no problems with the Governor’s increased powers; because in ten or fifteen years Montserrat is likely to be an independent nation, and the Governor would be one of us.  We must have in our Constitution certain reserved though nominal powers for someone, whether a Governor or a Governor General”. I recall that those confusionists took a battalion of tag-along with them to discuss the document in London. I still have in my copy of the photocopied document. I am not new to the discussions on the Constitution. And I stand by those comments today.

In March 2002 I was invited by the Constitutional Review Commission to share my views on some issues; but regrettably I was unable to do so at the time. However my concerns then and now are the suitability of our political system to 21st century Montserrat and whether we should abandon the Westminster format. At that time I was concerned that politicians behaved as if they were the top civil servants in their ministries and I felt that we needed to establish very distinct accountability roles between the Legislative and the Administrative so that politicians will know that they set policy and that civil servants carry them out.  Otherwise I was and still am very comfortable with their Constitution. The Commission traveled abroad extensively to discuss the document; but the original confusionists made sure that the legislative council rejected their draft and recommendations.

In 2008 I was given a copy of the Montserrat Draft Constitutional Order and commentary on the revised Draft to read. It is on my desk even as I write this article. I have not read it. But when it was given to me I asked, what is so peculiar about Montserratians that it should take them such a long time to determine what they want in their Constitution.

I also asked, if the BVI, Anguilla, TCI and Cayman Islands can consult, discuss and agree on their Constitution, what is so special about Montserrat’s circumstances that after 21 years we cannot agree on what should be in ours.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in yet another discussion on our Constitution; but, as in 1989, the main issue to be discussed is the powers of the Governor given under Section 16 of the Constitution. I felt that we were taking a huge leap back to the late eighties environment to influence our Constitution.  And this time I told the expert, “Show me the constitutions of the BVI, TCI, Grenada and St. Vincent. Let me examine the powers of their Governors and the Governors General. Let me see for myself if fifteen years of ash inhalation created in us a certain degree of fear that separates us from otherwise reasonable people. Because just like the BVI nation, Montserrat is a colony of a Constitutional Monarchy, so why should Montserratians have greater fears of the Governor’s powers than the BV Islanders do”.

Still the confusion mongers, some now disguised as nouveau politicians, are busy spreading fears.  They imagine that fifty years from now a ‘British boy Governor’ would turn the island Montserrat into a huge observatory. So they tell stories of Diego Garcia. Some have become homophobic; so much so that they want enshrined in the Constitution restrictions of our children rights to their physical and psychological endowment.  Certainly all our politicians know that some of us are homosexuals and that by the time the Constitution is accepted many more Montserrations will be GAY or Bisexual. So why do they want to mess with our children human rights. If my she son wants to marry your he son, Constitution or not, they will; no one can stop them.

I can live with the Constitution just as it is. In fact they and I have been living with it, in peace security since 1989. Hear this, I fear not the British. I fear the agents of confusion, the ‘nouveau one – issue politicians’ who in 1997 caused 19 people to die in the eruption and 5000 Montserratians to flee to the welcoming British Isle.  Consultation is the corollary of confusion; I say, table the Bill, vote on it and get Montserrat on par with its counterparts.

Twenty-one years, 1989 to 2010, is too much time for a nation to harangue over what goes into the Constitution, even if it is the most important document. Twenty-one years of discussions and consultations have been carried out already; another twenty-one years of confusing chatter in the name of more consultations will not bring about meaningful change to the document.  And that is what I shall contribute to the confusultation on the Constitution.

My constitution! As I mentioned earlier, my constitution determines my intellectual potential. I can digress and expose myself as much as I want. And digress I will.

It has been said, judge a people by their action. Yes judge the British not because of your imagined fears but by their actions.  Between1989 and 1995 the British has funded a number of million dollar projects on Montserrat such as: the state of the art Glendon Hospital, Harris police station, the Harris school, the Library, the New Government Headquarters, the Resource Centre, The Cork Hill road and Salem Police Station. They came from Great Britain and took stolen cars off the streets of Plymouth and carried one back to London. They arrested our politicians too.

And since 1995 the British have come with their purse.  Ninety percent of every building that has been built since then has had a direct contribution from British taxpayers. Year after year they pay the civil servants salaries, pensions and gratuities. They funded the airport, the seaport, the schools, the colleges, the roads, the old people’s homes, the government offices and the residential homes at Lookout.  They refused to assent to the politicians pension bill; and they told us that civil servants were getting too much pension.  They built the police station, the fire station and the prison. The British forced us to pass the Integrity Bill too.

Show me a Montserratian who will do those things to help and to protect Montserratians from themselves; and I may call you a liar.

Montserratians, Constitutions are important, but to spend twenty-one years arguing over what go into yours is ridiculous.  It is very easy to compare your proposed Constitution with those of your island neighbors and incorporate meaningful changes. There is nothing very special about us except the amount of ash in our veins. Use your brain; do not be misled by people who are determined to hijack our forward journey with their unrealistic fears of the British and their demand for consultation and more consultation.

As for me, my constitution is getting weak; I am tired of confusultations. Believe me, their Constitutional talks have begun to outlive its usefulness.
.