Saturday, December 21, 2002

In today's Express Lloyd Best, continuing his analysis of the T&T constitution reform issue, comes at last to the great practical question: how to make it actually happen — or, as he puts it, "what could conceivably be the political ways and means of translating a largely instinctive but very real hankering for a new regime into an effective vector of renewal?"

"It is hard to see how any initiative, on the part of the Independent Senators, however spirited, can expect more than a nominal hearing. Without any clear political agenda, the Constitution Reform Forum would be hard put to evolve — though it still has great potential as a popular information centre. (To which end, it would have to make much greater effort at foraging and disseminating far and wide.)

"The two established election parties claim to be interested but they could hardly have been more luke-cold than they are now. It is easy to guess why."

Best's solution now, as it was 30 years ago (the last time constitution reform was an issue of relatively wide public concern here in T&T), is a constituent assembly, a gathering together of interest groups & interested individuals, for the purpose of "cross-talk, feedback and exchange.... making sense of individual events and of fitting perceptions and partial proposals into [a] comprehensive and cogent construction."

A great question still hangs, though (which Best promises to address in a future column): who will call this constituent assembly into existence, & on what terms? My half-dozen or so regular readers may remember that some weeks ago I made my own suggestion for one means of jumpstarting the process. As Best remarks, it's foolish to expect any meaningful initiative from either government or opposition, & for that reason the independent senators' efforts in Parliament will likely be smothered under the PNM's & the UNC's polite disregard. I still believe the best hope at present is for the Constitution Reform Forum to take the bold step I've previously argued for, & dare the people of T&T to prove their seriousness about our politics, our governance & our democracy.

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