By the time each Belizean is old enough to vote and serve in our armed forces, he should know how we are governed, which means that he has read and is familiar with all the articles of the Constitution. This is the way it should be but, I don’t think it is the way it is. If it is not, it is the fault of our education system.
The Constitution has been the subject of a column written by Senator Henry Gordon in this newspaper for over fifteen years. He should be commended for his public service contribution. A course in the Constitution should be a part of the high school curriculum. Don’t you agree?
How many citizens know, for instance, how the Constitution came into existence? I know that there was a Constitution Conference in England attended by representatives of the government side of the House but, not the Opposition side. Not a good beginning. What was the input, if any, did our representatives have in the framing of the Constitution? It is believed that the mother country had a model constitution on which the constitutions of all her former colonies in the Caribbean were constructed.
Our Constitution was a gift from Great Britain of which Belize was a colony from 1860 to 21st September 1981. When it was taken to the House of Representatives, it was not a draft to be debated, it was already the Constitution of Belize and, its approval was a formality. Would it have been changed if it were debated? I doubt it. We all thought it was a great Constitution. I still think it is but, it has a serious flaw.
It is possible for one political party to have a three-fourth’s majority of seats in the House of Representatives, which gives them the power to suspend the Constitution and to change it unilaterally. Something is wrong when a party can receive 52% of the votes in a general election to another party’s 48% of the votes and, gain five times as many seats as the latter. In such cases, the Prime Minister can rule as a dictator. The Constitution has to be changed to prevent this happening again.
I would advocate another change. Reduce the term of office of members of the House of Representatives from five years to four. The people shouldn’t have to wait so long to judge the performance of a government and be able to remove incompetent, corrupt or rogue politicians from office. Amandala