Sunday, 17 June 2012 09:36
By Vere Aaron
The history of democracy is a history of social struggles over the expansion of political space. It is a history of contest over the transformation of the human wrongs of the marginalized groups into human rights.
In modern societies where the existence of opposition political parties has been institutionalized, they serve the purpose of being an alternative to the ruling parties by offering alternative policies. They also play an on-site role by making sure actions of the governing party are in the best interest of the citizens.
Elections are one of the main features of democrac; and since no democratic election can take place in a one party system, opposition parties are foundation pillars of any democracy and the voice of the people, especially the marginalized.
Now, the Antigua Labour Party has decided to distance itself from the Lone Wolf Protesters for the said reasons put forward by Gaston Browne in the article “Gaston Distances ALP From Lone Wolf Protesters”, published on Caribarena.com.
Gaston declared, “The Lone Wolf group has made a distinction that its members do not speak on behalf of the ALP, even though they may support the party. At our executive meeting last Friday, we discussed the matter and we feel that the party should make a commitment to the One China Policy, and we wish to make it clear that the Lone Wolf group does not speak for or represent the ALP.”
He went on to say, “The Antigua Labour Party remains firmly in support of the People’s Republic of China and its One China Policy.
“We wish to reassure Ambassador H.E Mr. Liu Hanming that we treasure the long standing and mutually beneficial relationship that exists between our countries, the Antigua Labour Party and the Communist Party of China. We therefore look forward to working closely with the Government and people of China and to strengthen the bonds of friendship that exist between both our countries.”
I understand the ALP’s contrivance does not coincide with that of the Lone Wolf Protesters, but the party is not doing enough to hold these elected officials accountable for the wasting of taxpayers’ dollars. What alternatives have they tabled to assure the electorate that the issue surrounding the Wadadli Power Plant (WPP) is one of critical importance and must be thoroughly investigated?
I remember when the ALP was very much outspoken on issues such as the Sunshine Hub Car Park, the Voluntary Separation Package, the School Meals Programme, the Schools Uniform Grant Programme, Dollar Barrel Initiative, etc, but the speculations surrounding these programmes have being outweighed by that of the power plant. In fact, these programmes were implemented on legal grounds although costly.
However, it seems as though the ALP got a dose of hush so as to stop them from being vocal on the WPP. The thing is the ALP, like the UPP administration, will bow to the power of China so as to gain a significant amount of economic investments.
In order to know where you are going you have got to know where you are coming from and many of us have suspicions about the WPP and would like some sort of clarification; but have you guys really taken the time out to stop and think about the rules and regulations governing this One China Policy? I think our suspicions should be aimed at the policy itself.
How many of us know the rules and regulations under this One China policy by which Antigua & Barbuda decided to abide? I do not even know myself. By the way, even if there are terms and conditions by which this agreement is governed, I do not think our politicians are ignorant enough to embrace a policy which is beyond the boundaries of our democracy.
As politicians and men who have a great wealth of knowledge about the laws governing this country, I thought they would have taken up the mantle and guided the electorate forward and given them an outline on the necessary actions they can undertake to hold the ruling party accountable.
I understand they are trying to maintain or uphold the One China Policy, but if you guys are going to stifle our democracy to do such, then let us know from the beginning in order to find alternative solutions. China being a power-house doesn't give it the right to make us uncomfortable in our sweet little paradise island.
Gaston, if you have nothing constructive to offer then sip on a bottle of hush. Your arrogant and power-hungry attitude is beginning to put the ALP’s chances of winning the next general election at risk. I understand that your views may differ from that of the electorate on the WPP but who are you representing: Gaston, or the individuals who gave you the mandate to represent them whole heartedly? You have been chanting a different tune from day one, not only from the organization you are a part of but also the electorate.
Antiguans and Barbudans take heed for if Gaston and the ALP are displaying such immaturity in opposition, what makes you think they will be any better than the UPP if returned to government?
Say all you want about the UPP administration corrupt, incompetent, vindictive, dictators, but I will forever say to you it makes no sense trading bad for bad, or bad for worse. As Edimelo once sang,” the more things change the more they remain the same.”
Another issue is this failed vote of no confidence, where the leader of the opposition stated on Observer Radio: “I was not aware at the time, and I know this is also going to be a problem, that the Standing Order permitted me to let someone else do it." This clearly shows how disorganized and immature the Antigua Labour Party is.
Now are you telling me the Leader of the Opposition, after spending five hours in Parliament and feeling exhausted and knowing he will not be able to make it back for the second session, did not stop to ask if he could have allowed one of his colleagues to raise the issue? And most of all, the different statements made after the sitting by ALP elected officials clearly show that this wasn’t well strategized.
Not only that, in an article published on Caribarena entitled, no confidence vote postponed, Gaston Browne stated: "He said that he would prefer to be the one to table it. We are talking about a no confidence motion, and he would stand to be the beneficiary if there is going to be a change of government, and he wanted to be the one to present it. He was just not in a position to deal with it today."
In another article, “Speaker Casts Doubt On Bird’s Excuse”, published in Antigua Observer, the Speaker of the House was quoted saying: “I am really surprised to hear that because, as a matter of fact, that provision was discussed with the honourable member for St Peter (Asot Michael) who spoke to me on Mr. Bird’s behalf in the Chamber.” She even proceeded to state, “I would be very surprised if he (Michael) would have asked me a question and not relayed the answer (to Bird).”
The questions therefore are: Who is lying here? Did Lester not know he had the power to authorize his colleague to raise the motion, or this was part of the plan? On such a historic occasion are you going to tell me the opposition party didn't have a modus operandi? Weren’t the members of the ALP communicating anytime at all during the day? Who are these individuals trying to fool?
With all these failed plans of actions being put forward by the ALP, it makes me wonder if their actions were all planned and well rehearsed. Something is not adding up and the dominoes are not falling in line.
I personally believe that ALP needs a few more terms in opposition so as to get their house in order and if they are elected in 2014 there is no doubt in my mind they will become Antiguans and Barbudans’ biggest disappointment.
A leadership convention is in their bag and I hope and pray that God grants them the wisdom and knowledge not only to choose but to choose wisely, for if certain individuals are elected to lead the party to victory in 2014 then the organization will definitely become history.
The entire organization needs a purge. The party is clogged with traitors and premature forced-ripe men. It needs to be plunged immediately. Their words are very much inconsistent and if this is the path they are going to take, they will be found wanting just like the UPP.
It is time for the ALP to come clean and get its act together. There is no doubt that this country is in need of change - but change to what? Come on ALP, we are not being convinced at all and we are still in the wilderness waiting for that SOS.