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Our right to speak out


Our right to speak out

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The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write and print with freedom – the French National Assembly Declaration of the Rights of Man, August 26, 1789.  

PERMIT ME TO CONTRIBUTE to the many discussions which are now emanating from those political experts who comment on matters which they feel only certain elected persons are qualified to espouse on.

The essence of any democracy is that basic tenet of freedom of expression. To my mind it is not a privilege only for those few fortunate to be elected to the House of Parliament but a right, as Bob Marley would say, “guaranteed to all without regards to race”, granted under our Constitution.

I am amused by certain comments from educated, elected members of Government, who seem to think that they have the only word on matters which affect the taxpayers in this country.

Let me commend David Comissiong for his principled stance in his relentless pursuit of transparency and fairness in relation to the construction of the Hyatt Hotel on Bay Street.

Even though we have found ourselves in dire economic straits, rules should not be broken, bypassed or waived, without first having a discussion with those concerned, and more so with those who will be affected in the construction of such a project.

The need for foreign exchange or to satisfy any investor(s) should not overshadow the need for Government to follow its established policies and or do the right thing.

Barbadians must be willing to stand up and speak, without fear of victimisation or political labels, when those who have been entrusted to lead fail miserably to do so.

The recent utterings by a number of ministers and parliamentary secretaries must be recognised as just that, mutterings barren of thought or logic and merely full of election propaganda. To be critical of Mr Comissiong for using his own resources to challenge Government on issues which he feels is wrong can only be deemed as seeing the glass half-full and ignoring the aspect of good governance which was promised in 2013.

Those who are critical now of trade unions and their leaders and of political unionism were silent when the majority of said trade union leaders were members of the ruling political party. One heard no comments, criticisms or ridicule. There were no threats to “crack heads and shoot people” or protest outside of lawyers’ offices. But apparently this is a different time – a time of fake news and fake facts; a time when our leaders can remain silent and sleeping and only awaken when elections draw near.

It is a time when impossible has now become very probable. And because many have been focused on developments in North America, it is now accepted that is the lead which we must follow. But may I remind those who are focused in that direction that many an executive order has been challenged and halted by state courts, and therefore we in this jurisdiction also have the right to legally challenge anything which we believe is not right.

To Mr Dixon, my colleague in St Joseph, who has fought the Barbados Water Authority and Government on the issue of water distribution on the behalf of the residents of St Joseph, your resolve is also encouraging. And to our trade union leaders, regardless of which union they lead, do not let up.

This country, our democracy, needs more people like you, people who are willing to stand up and fight for what they believe in. Determination and will is not a privilege given to only a few, but a right, which if well nourished, can develop into an asset to be used to help the underprivileged and vulnerable.

Let us join together and do what is right, ignoring the noises which from time to time may arise like tinkling brass.