Prime Minister Mottley surprised the nation during republic celebrations with the announcement international Barbadian artist was elevated to national hero status. A couple months later – post-general election with the appointment of government senators – Mottley did it again, she provisionally appointed 18 year old Khaleel Kothdiwala as a government senator. The appointment requires a change to the highest law of the land.
The views expressed by the blogmaster on the process required to make these kinds of appointments will not be popular in an age when process is often disregarded for going with the flow; going with what is popular.
The blogmaster has no issue with National Hero Robyn Fenty or Senator Khaleel Kothdiwala (designate). Both have demonstrated exemplary achievement serving respective pursuits. In the case of Khaleel he has done what few have shown the courage by entering Barbados Underground using his given name to debate issues. On behalf of the BU household – despite differences from time to time – we wish him well.
A previous blog – Maximum Leaders, Absolute Power and Democracy– is timely for what it reminds us. It addresses the challenge some in society have with the arbitrary way a political leader can take decisions that are possibly not aligned to the collective value-set of the citizenry. The Prime Minister has the prerogative to appoint whomever she wants as a government Senator. The issue in the case of Khaleel’s appointment to the Upper House is the decision to amend the Constitution to allow an 18 years old to sit. Should changes be made to the Constitution without wide public consultation? Should changes to the Constitution involve a declared process that includes wide consultation with the public that taps in to the kind of country we want to fashion? The same argument is true for appointing a national hero.
The other challenge is that many of us bring immature positions to the table by quickly resorting to personal attacks on the persons selected- in this case Rihanna and Khaleel. This is another example what happens when citizens cede inherent rights in a democracy to politicians. Why should Prime Minister Mottley believe that after a second 30 to zero win at the polls, she does not have the mandate to implement feel good decisions? The eternal threat to the type of democracy practiced by Barbados demands an engaged citizenry and individuals of integrity willing to offer themselves for public service.
There is benefit to following an established and transparent process for making these kinds of decisions. There is a benefit in a democracy to canvassing the views of citizens to ensure maximum participation. What the 2022 general election again revealed is that there is too much apathy and cynicism among the citizens. This is antithesis to how a functional democratic system should operate.
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.Luke 12:48
A word to the wise should be sufficient.