Ideas and Opinions: Amandala

We don’t need a great political leader. We had one. His name is George Price. For thirty years, beginning with the early fifties and ending in 1984, first as Premier and later as Prime Minister, Mr. Price was the absolute ruler of Belize, regardless of what our Constitution says about government by the National Assembly. He was absolute ruler, de facto, because the Belizean electorate gave him maximum support and, his will was their command. He had a mission and, would not let anything stand in his way until it was completed. For this, the nation of Belize is eternally grateful. Declaring him our first National Hero was one of the many tributes we paid him, while he was alive and, the nation continues to honor his memory. But now, what we need is a statesman.

General elections are around the corner. Should it matter to Belizeans who don’t belong to a political party, which one wins the election and forms the government? If we are nationalistic and patriotic, all we should wish for is that the ruling party is nationalistic. If they are nationalistic, they will put the interests of the nation above all other interests. They will swear to do this when they take the oath of office. Will they keep their promises? “’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.” What we have to hope for is that the leader of the victorious party will be a statesman because, that is what our country needs, above all.

As a general rule, ruling parties “reward friends and punish enemies,” according to the Pricean principle. Rewarding friends is as it should be. Their friends expect it. They look forward to it, especially if their friendship takes the form of financial contributions. Parties can’t succeed without good friends. Rewarding them is a form of expressing gratitude. A statesman will reward friends, within limits, remembering that the national treasury belongs not to his party but, to the people.

Punishing enemies is a bad idea. To begin with, members and strong supporters of the other party are not your enemies. They are your opponents, worthy or not. When the elections are over, they should be regarded only as citizens of the nation you govern. Some of your opponents are as able, honest, righteous, patriotic and nationalistic as the best of the members of your party. It is in the national interest that the cream should be allowed to rise to the top. A meritocracy is what a statesman will strive for.

We need a statesman now, more than ever, to have and to outline a clear vision for the nation to aspire to; to set new goals and high standards of performance for the workers in the “vineyard”; to deal with the ills which afflict the body politic, such as crime, immorality, apathy, illiteracy and indiscipline. He has the power to do this. A Prime Minister has more power than a president in a republic. So long as he acts in the national interest and the Common Good, his will should prevail.

We would be a fortunate nation, if the leader who decided to be clothed with the mantle of Statesman will emulate the example of Great Political Leader and let nothing stand in his way of achieving the mission he will choose to undertake.

The right to privacy

This right is enshrined in our Constitution and the State upholds it. No one can enter your premises to observe what you are doing or to search for anything without your permission. There are two exceptions. The police may do so on a warrant signed by a Justice of the Peace and, if they have strong and verifiable suspicion that you have guns, ammunition or prohibited drugs in your possession. They may not enter your abode if they suspect you are engaging in homosexual acts.

The argument that a woman’s right to privacy is denied by a law which forbids the termination of her pregnancy (referred to as abortion), which was used successfully in the American Supreme Court, is not applicable to our law, which makes it a crime for members of the male sex to copulate. The determinant issue in Roe V Wade was whether an embryo is a person at any time between conception and birth. The court ruled that it was not and, therefore it had no rights. The idea that the law forbidding homosexual acts is an abrogation of the participants’ right to privacy fails the test. Individuals may engage in homosexual or any other unlawful acts in a private place. They have a right against intrusion but, not the right to commit unlawful acts.

Insider trading

There is no law in Belize against what is called “insider trading,” as far as I am aware. By insider trading is meant making use of information which comes to your knowledge because you are in a position of privilege, for personal gain. As an example, if you are a member of a regulatory body, you know of their decision which would make a particular stock increase in value when the decision was made public and, you enter into an agreement with a trading company to buy a large block of shares in the stock at the current rate for sale at a profit at the appropriate time.

Another example would be, if a strong party supporter (a financial contributor to the ruling party, especially) was informed that the government was going to announce the location of a new road and, he proceeded to buy up land on the roadway. That would be insider trading but, it is not against the law in most democratic countries. To gain an advantage in your business dealings, by fair or unfair means, is at the heart of our Free Enterprise Capitalist System.

Now, let us look, with circumspection, at the action of high ranking members of the administration of the Social Security department. They tried to get an advantage in their business relationship with the Social Security Board, based on information which came their way. They tried to qualify for a write off of the balance of their mortgage debt to SSB. They failed because the list of qualifiers was already cast (in stone, said the Prime Minister). Their action was not illegal. Was it unethical or immoral? Isn’t that what people do in a Free Enterprise Capitalist System?

I discussed the case with a friend who is a strong advocate of probity and rectitude. He thought their action might be unethical but, not immoral; however, we agree that theirs was a grave indiscretion. They should have made sure that they would have been able to qualify.