EDITORIAL – Acts worthy of status
Our fledgling democracy continues to ensure the protection of our rights and the accountability of our governors in the way that constitutions are supposed to. Parliament meets frequently, the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow cabinet have a constitutionally protected role, and an independent judiciary decides cases impartially between citizens and also between Government and citizens from time to time.
But the preservation and enhancement of our arrangements require much more than the formal structures since a democracy is a work in progress.
Yet very often important events which add much value take place without receiving the attention they deserve.
In recent weeks, popular and acerbic social commentator Eric Sealy died and was buried, but prior to that some committed Barbadian investors established themselves as a group to protect their investment in the Clico Life.
There was also news of yet another town hall meeting, this time at Briar Hall, Christ Church, where Mr Stephen Lashley, the Member of Parliament for the area, and Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce and his officials, discussed traffic management concerns with residents.
A lawman from the Worthing Police Station was also there to give his opinion on the cause of accidents at the junction of Graeme Hall and the ABC Highway.
These events ought not to pass like ships in the night, because there are as important to the preservation of our democracy as the regular meetings of our Parliament, or the independent adjudication of cases before our courts; yet very often these events do not earn the significant status they deserve.
The freedom of expression in our Constitution is expressly protected because a democracy can hardly thrive where critical comment is not allowed.
Constructive criticism is of course sometimes deserved, but occasions will arise in any democracy where the citizens will need to speak out, very often against established interests to bring matters to public attention.
In this context, we cannot simply write off the contribution of Eric Sealy. He was a direct and certain thorn in the side of many an administration.
His marathon speeches delivered in his inimitable style of caustic commentary and deliberate refusal to genuflect to established authority, caused constitutional discomfort while putting the case for the masses. His role was that of a patriotic democrat defending our Constitution against threatened contravention.
The committee established by Mrs June Fowler and her fellow citizens is an equally praiseworthy effort in our democratic process.
Companies are important to all of us, to the Government to whom they provide taxes, to employees for whom they provide jobs, and to investors to whom they provide a return on monies invested when everything goes right.
Sometimes things go askew, and the appropriate democratic processes, rather than the rule of the unruly mob, are the way to go. So that we applaud the constructively critical stance of concerned policyholders who are seeking to use democratic and legal processes to vindicate their concerns. That approach can only strengthen our democracy, whatever the outcome!
The meeting at Briar Hall is one more of the established pattern of town hall meetings which have become sterling examples of interactive democracy on our constitutional landscape; but this meeting showed a more concerted community approach.
The presence of a member of the Police Force, who could speak empirically about accidents at the troublesome junction with the policymakers and planners present, was heartening, for workable improvements emerge from such multiparty discussions. This too is a healthy addition to our democratic arrangements, since public involvement in governance adds much meaning to the expression government of the people.
We support these non-governmental efforts to resolve problems in our society, because people matter to the proper working of our society. A democracy ought to be a wholly integrated process in which those governed are also intimately involved in the process of governance.