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Opposition needs to reflect on its role
American screenwriter and producer Chuck Jones said of those who love to be in performance evaluation mode and always criticise: “Anyone can negatively criticise—it is the cheapest of all comments because it requires not a modicum of the effort that suggestion requires.”
Our political landscape leaves a lot to be desired as some folks seem to be always criticising and focusing on negatives. Some people in high circles use this for selfish and self-serving purposes, often to gain political mileage. We have seen that in the case with selection of a Commissioner of Police for starters—some members of the Opposition by their own public admissions having to obey the whip and abstain from supporting Gary Griffith as CoP.
Whatever happened to the penultimate line of our national anthem and the similar sentiments echoed in our independence pledge: “I will strive in everything I do, To work together with my fellow men of every creed and race, For the greater happiness of all, And the honour and glory of my country”?
To those entrusted with the mantle of governance it is imperative to act in a responsible and effective manner that benefits all the people of this country. We all need to act with the burning urgency of now or we will be engulfed in the bottomless pit of desolation, especially if all MPs do not start working in unison.
The Opposition is the alternative government and indeed, the government-in-waiting. Moreover, the leader of the main opposition party is often given access to sensitive information on the basis that he or she, as the Prime Minister-in-waiting, has to be ready to perform the role of running the country at short notice.
It is fitting to underscore some of the responsibilities of the Opposition:
(1) It holds the Government accountable through responsible and reasoned debate;
(2) It works with mass media, civil society organisations, and the Government to monitor and improve the quality of civic education, electoral transparency, and impartially imparting knowledge to the public on complex and pressing issues.
(3) It acts as a training ground for future leaders via the creation of shadow ministers and interns.
Those currently in opposition must ask themselves if they are fulfilling the mandate of being a viable alternative government.
Experienced members of the Legislature who have left an indelible mark should be designated “Emeritus”. New senators, especially independent and opposition senators and opposition members of the House of Representatives, should go through an induction with them to fully understand their roles and responsibilities.
Some suggestions as to who should spearhead this initiative include: Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, Prof Ramesh Deosaran, Prof Kenneth Ramchand, Dr D Mahabir.
I conclude with some advice for all: “He has a right to criticise, who has a heart to help.”—Abraham Lincoln
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