A government of laws, and not of men

Dear Editor,

The second President of the United States of America, John Adams, once described his Government as “a government of laws, and not of men.” The philosophy which underpins this statement is the foundation of modern democratic governments. Its antithesis are political dictatorship, authoritarianism and anarchy.

Each passing day exposes both, at a philosophical and practical level, this Government’s constant battle to comply with our fundamental law, the Constitution. There appears to be a deep-seated ideology embedded in this Government which violently collides with that ancient British adage, nay truism, “ye may be high. But ye is never higher than the law.” It is only that type of innate mentality which can explain the constant and continuous assertion in the Courts of this land that Presidential actions and decisions are not reviewable by the Judiciary, although the Constitution is supreme and therefore, the Presidency is but a creature of the very Constitution. That such a concept, which owes it jurisprudential genesis in the Royal Prerogative, has been rejected half a century ago throughout the British Common-wealth on the basis that is has no place in a legal system predicated upon a doctrine of constitutional supremacy (as ours is), coupled with the fact that our Courts have overruled such a plea every time it has been raised, seem not to daunt the Attorney General. In fact, in the case filed against the appointment of the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the contention is elevated to even greater untutored heights. The argument is that the Judiciary will be violating the Doctrine of Separation of Powers were it to review the President’s decision!

It is this ideology which blinds a Government to the clear language of the Constitution  because it cannot fathom that the Executive President, the fountain of all powers, is obliged to choose a person from a list of names submitted to him by the Leader of the Opposition. This school of thinking perceives such constitutional requirement as an unnecessary shackle on the “omnipotence” of the Executive Presidency.

It is the same kind of philosophy which drives the instinctive remark that a Chief Justice’s Ruling, is her own opinion and therefore, not binding on the President. It is a similar thinking which manifests itself in formal letters being written by Ministers of the Executive, giving directions to independent constitutional commissions!

Those consumed with such an ideology will always view the Constitution, the laws, independent oversight bodies and similar mechanisms, as hurdles and obstacles. Hence, the constant attempt to violate and undermine them. So in the Parliament, Ministers, in violation of all principles known to parliamentary democracy and of the spirit of the Constitution itself, chair oversight Committees. This occurs in no other democracy in the British Common-wealth. The Minister of Finance unilaterally cutting the budgets of independent constitutional agencies on the floor of the National Assembly and the vilification of a Judge on the Bench by the Principal Legal Adviser of the Government, are all actions which manifest this ideology.

 

Yours faithfully,

Anil Nandlall

Comments  

It is conflict of interest for ExxonMobil to sit on EITI Board when it played a role in US decision to withdraw from that body

Dear Editor, In the Accountability Watch article of November 13, 2017, I had stated that the United States withdrew from the membership of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) on the grounds that “domestic implementation of the EITI Standard will conflict with the U.S.

Demerara River Bridge, Ministry of Citizenship digitising of records among projects that raise serious concerns

Dear Editor, The world is aware that I have been suspended from the National Assembly and that I cannot ask questions or participate in the scrutiny of the 2018 Estimates of Expenditure.

Senior public officials should send Christmas greetings to one another not the nation

Dear Editor, The extension of greetings to the Guyanese religious communities on the occasions of religious events of deep significance can be expected from politicians and political parties as routine public relations; patronizing interventions with the aim of scoring political points, however cheap.

The US$18M was not in an escrow account

Dear Editor, In the news article ‘President says he took decision on placing US$18m at BoG’ (SN online,  December 13) President David Granger has taken full responsibility for the US$18M ExxonMobil signing bonus not being placed in the Consolidated Fund claiming that the money was in escrow for national security emergency reasons.

The government and opposition should co-operate

Dear Editor, This letter is an appeal to both my government and the opposition to take their roles seriously.

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