Letters — 11 April 2014 — by Brian Plummer

Dear Editor:

The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system derived from the politics of the United Kingdom. This term comes from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

The system is a series of procedures for operating a legislature. It is used, or was once used, in the national legislatures of most Commonwealth and ex-Commonwealth nations, beginning with the first of the Canadian provinces in 1848.

It is my view that all CARICOM countries must abolish the Westminster system because it creates a stratified society and does not allow true democracy to occur in parliament. It is a democracy only for the majority with the minority party or parties having only a symbolic token of democracy.

Belize is a country rich in natural resources – we have oil, gold and an abundance of agricultural land. Our population is small and young therefore it is easy to maintain and can be developed to make Belize a powerhouse in the world.

Since we have been governed by the Westminster system and we have not been able to become a prosperous nation, we must change our constitution. Our constitution assumes that men that aspire for political office will be honorable. Our experience has shown that men that aspire for political office generally like power and rarely have as their priority the common good. I would like to start the discussion about changing our system of government by first changing the constitution.

The role of parliament is crucial to our national development, yet we have allowed our parliamentarians to have other jobs. For the Parliament to function properly the substantive job of parliamentarians must be to attend to their parliamentary duties. Members’ alternative substantive job quite logically occupies the majority of their time and Parliament is the loser. Parliament must serve as an oversight for the executive.

In our present system it should not be the case that our leaders are getting paid to be actors in a drama at House meetings and little else. Do we have money to waste and do we want to stay a country with the majority poor and powerless?

We urgently need to write our own constitution instead of copying a neo-colonial model that we presently have that is destined to fail.

Yours truly,
Brian Plummer

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