PAM’s 1983 Independence Constitution Haunting The Federation

The St. Kitts - Nevis Coat of Arms

The St. Kitts – Nevis Coat of Arms

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
November 21, 2009 (CUOPM)

All the problems with the 1983 St. Kitts and Nevis Independence Constitution given to the twin-island Federation by the People’s Action Movement (PAM) Government of Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Sir Kennedy A. Simmonds “were foreseeable back then in 1983.”

This is the view of weekly columnist Thinking Citizen, a retired civil servant who served in the PAM government of 1980 to 1995, who in his week’s column said: “PAM and its apologists and propagandists are not open and forthright with the people of this country. The PAMites are not willing to let the people know that it was PAM and not Labour that gave us the Constitution which is the object of so much criticism and dissatisfaction. In life there are things that are foreseeable and things that are not foreseeable.”

“The problems were identified and pointed out to the members of the PAM Government by the leaders of the Labour Party, but the PAMites refused to listen to, or act upon the sage and timely advice of the leaders of the Labour Party,”  the individual said.

 In the timely article, Thinking Citizen continued: “PAM and its sycophants try to keep hidden the fact that PAM radically altered the Electoral System in 1983 by passing “The House of Assembly Elections Ordinance (Amendment) Act, 1983″.

The general public was not given time to study the Bill before it was introduced into Parliament. There were no public discussions, no Town Hall meetings and no consultation with social partners. The Labour Party Members of Parliament received their papers, late, one Friday afternoon for the meeting to discuss the Bill, scheduled for the following Monday morning.

Given the very short time in which to prepare themselves for discussion on the Bill entitled “The House of Assembly Elections Ordinance (Amendment) Act, 1983″, the representatives of the Labour Party did their very best to point out all the pitfalls and short-comings of the Bill before them.

“Nothing that the representatives of Labour said was accepted. The Labour Party representatives were shouted down and told to shut up and sit down for it was PAM’s time now. The PAMites in the Assembly threatened Lee Moore and his colleagues by saying “When we finish with all you in here today, there will be no more Labour”. You see the new law that was being passed at that time in November 1983 was intended to bury the Labour Party six (6) feed under,” Thinking Citizen wrote.

But that was not all. General Elections were held in 1984 and just a couple of weeks before Polling Day, PAM altered the Boundaries of the Constituencies single-handedly without any warning, notice or discussion. As a result, Lee Moore and E. St. John Payne failed to retain their seats in the 1984 Elections.

“The House of Assembly Elections Ordinance (Amendment) Act, 1983″ altered the Electoral System in a most profound and peculiar way. Among other things it allowed for ““

(i) People to live in one Constituency and register and vote in a totally different Constituency\
(ii) Nationals living abroad permanently to return home to register and vote in our General Elections in the Constituency in which votes for PAM were needed most;

(iii) The votes of unauthorised votes to be accepted and counted just as if the votes are valid votes and the voters are authorised voters;

(iv) Certain Electoral Officials to add names to the Voters’ List, but not to remove names, which led to Dr. Simmonds’ famous statement that “once a name is on the Voters’ List, that name is there to stay.”

We must not lose sight of the fact that at no stage did the Labour Party apply for any Injunction against the PAM Government or ever took the PAM Government to Court to challenge the many dangerous provisions of “The House of Assembly Elections Ordinance (Amendment) Act, 1983.

On the other hand let’s look at the actions of PAM. The party passed “The House of Assembly Elections Ordinance (Amendment) Act, 1983″ with many dangerous provisions and stubbornly refused to amend the Act. PAM conducted General Elections under the Act in 1984, 1989, 1993 and 1995.

Shortly after PAM was voted out of office, the party began a campaign for Electoral Reform with the following slogan, namely “Electoral Reform is an Urgent, National Priority”. Yet when PAM was invited to participate in the process of Electoral Reform, the leaders of PAM declared publicly that they had no interest in participating in Electoral Reform.

PAM can change its position, its views, its outlook and its attitude on any public policy issue, faster and more often than a chameleon can change its colour. And in pulling off this trick, PAM always invokes some lofty moral and high-sounding value or principle, such as Democracy, transparency, Justice, Fairness and the Protection of the Rights of the Citizen.

The leaders of PAM refused to allow the use of Voter I.D. Cards in our Electoral System from 1984 to 1995 and during that same period the party protected and guaranteed the right of all overseas nationals to vote in our General Elections.

PAM is in opposition now and the party has been fighting for the introduction of Voter I.D. Cards and for the right of overseas nationals to vote in our elections to be abolished, terminated, restricted or qualified. PAM’s view on the foregoing issues has changed completely now that the party is in opposition and no longer in Government.

The public pronouncements of the propagandists and spin-doctors in PAM have always been at odds with the public actions and activities of PAM. For instance, PAM opposed the move to Associated Statehood for St. Kitts-Nevis and Anguilla. PAM did everything possible to prevent the establishment and operation of the Social Security System in St. Kitts and Nevis.

PAM argued that St. Kitts and Nevis were too small and too poor to afford Independence. Furthermore, PAM said that before taking the country into Independence a Referendum must be held to ascertain the true wishes of the people. PAM took the country into Independence in 1983 without any Referendum at all.

The propagandists and spin-doctors in PAM love to say that everything that the party does is in the best interests of Democracy. Yet in 1966 and 1967, a number of PAMites found the time to travel to Junks Hole in Anguilla, to practise how to shoot, in preparation for participation in the invasion of St. Kitts which took place on the 10th of June, 1967.

Just think back. PAM refused to participate in the process of Electoral Reform, but members of the party willingly participated in the invasion of St. Kitts on June 10, 1967. PAM claimed that Premier Bradshaw was a dictator. If that was true, PAM’s solution to the problem was way out of line. PAM’s solution was to remove Premier Bradshaw by force of arms and set up a PAM dictatorship by force of arms. So PAM’s solution was to swap one so-called dictator for a real, honest-to-goodness, down-to-earth dictator. If Premier Bradshaw was a real dictator, the British Government would have suspended the Constitution and removed Premier Bradshaw from office.

We have noticed within recent times that certain shameless lackeys of PAM have been espousing “Proportional Representation” over the current “First-pass-the-post” system. Why is PAM using its lackeys to espouse “Proportional Representation” over the current “First-pass-the-post” system?

The answer is that PAM is losing heavily at the polls under the “First-past-the-post” system and therefore, would like the system of “Proportional Representation” which would be favourable to PAM. PAM is always seeking ways and means to turn every situation and every circumstance in the party’s favour.

PAM likes to portray itself as a responsible, reliable, dependable party with mature, rational, reasonable and principled members and leaders. But that is certainly not the case. After the PAM party lost the government in 1995, the party cried out loud for Electoral Reform. However, when the present Labour Party Government set in motion the wheels for Electoral Reform, the same PAM party told the nation that PAM had no interest in participating in the process of Electoral Reform.

Section 28(1) (a) is a part of he 1983 Constitution which was given to us by the PAM/NRP Government. The present Labour Party Government passed a law intended to ensure compliance with Section 28(1) (a) of the Constitution. PAM undertook to challenge Labour’s new law in Court, although that law embodies in principle the spirit of Section 28(1) (a).

I have not been taken in by the arguments raised by PAM against the new law. Rather than contesting the new law in Court, the PAMites should ensure that all its political candidates position themselves on the right side of Section 28(1) (a) of the Constitution.

Starting with the terrorist invasion on June 10, 1967, we have seen that PAM is not interested in the cause of Democracy or in the overall welfare of the country as a whole. PAM has always been interested in promoting the sectional interests of a certain class of people.”

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