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During the curtailed ceremonial opening of the 12th Republican Parliament, the President ask a critical question of our lawmakers on behalf of a friend (population). As it where, this question came just moments after they took their oaths of allegiance and mere days before our independence anniversary, perhaps the most apposite of times. I suspect that many of them may have well been taken aback by the question, being a forgone conclusion in their minds, especially having only just been elected or selected to the Parliament.

Nevertheless, the question remains a crucial one as it strikes at the very heart of our democracy, especially when contrasted against the post-election backdrop which saw some of the most divisive and acrimonious comments, in some cases fueled by the very politicians, whose societal position of trust requires them to promote values which ensures the realization that every creed and race in fact find an equal place.

This distrust between parliamentarians and the electorate creates a dangerous level of disillusionment and feelings of abandonment in the population, which has explosive potential with destabilizing effects. One only has to reflect on the recent eruption of fiery protest that engulfed the capital city and several other communities for days, as a result of the police killing of 4 men in the Morvant community. Such action was most certainly prompted by the silence of their parliamentary representatives on the matter, further exacerbated by their apparent inability or willingness to effect the necessary legislative changes to empower the Police Complaints Authority’s (PCA) to successfully provide independent oversight of the Police Service, particularly the investigation of police officers and corruption in the police service. I remind, the latter of which has even been acknowledged as a problem by the CoP himself.

Like any good relationship trust is the pillar on which it stands, the collapse of which can spell disastrous consequences for all parties involved. I presume this was the President’s deeper warning to all parliamentarians, particularly elected members, as she conveyed the population’s growing disenchantment with the five year ritualistic visits, whereby politicians shambolically engage their constituents at election time, never to be seen until the next election cycle. Parliamentarians would do well to heed her Excellency’s advice and cultivate a more attentive approach to the population’s cries, less we see more explosive eruptions.

Andre Phillip

via email