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Sep 4, 1998

G. Michael Reid discusses P.U.P. victory at the polls

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One week after the United Democratic Party was unceremoniously swept out of office and back into civilian life, the massacre at the polls last Thursday continues to weigh heavily on the minds of most people. Not least among them is News Five’s commentator, G. Michael Reid.

“It is said that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It will now be up to the new government of Belize to prove this old aphorism wrong, as on August 27th 1998, the people of Belize put into the hands of Said Musa and the People’s United Party virtual absolute power. In his victory speech on election night, Prime Minister Musa pledged that his will be a government of reform and a government for all the people. And if that turns out to be true, then the Belizean people will have made a wise decision.

If, however, those words turn out to be just more empty political promises, then Belize might never again recover from the terrible mistake that we would have made. With just three seats on the other side of the House, it makes for a very weak opposition and virtually removes the crucial checks and balance system so integral to a true democratic system. This will mean then of course, that Belizeans will have to now rely more heavily upon the objectivity of a media core, which has unfortunately, proven to be anything but. With just about every major house decidedly biased in favor of the government in power, one wonders if we can really expect nonpartisan reporting. As with everything else, I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Holding true to at least one promise in their manifesto, the P.U.P. government this week appointed a Cabinet of 16 ministers which is of course, not more than two-thirds of their 26 elected representatives. This has not left everyone happy, however, and supporters of representatives from districts both north and south have been quite vociferous about their objections. The Garinagu especially are demanding representation in the Cabinet and many join them in asking why Dr. Aranda was not considered for a post. After all, the gentleman from Dangriga come equipped with a wealth of experience and credentials. To his credit, Prime Minister Musa did meet with protesters who had traveled from Dangriga explaining that with 26 candidates to choose from, everyone could not have been given portfolios. Suggesting then, that the large margin of victory might yet turn out to be more a nightmare, than a dream come true for the P.U.P.

Most singly responsible for the P.U.P.’s overwhelming victory in last week’s election I believe was their impressive and well presented manifesto. Their promise of houses, jobs and strong reform touched a chord in the hearts of many voters and conversely, the U.D.P.’s campaign to discredit Messrs. Musa and Fonseca were, to say the very least, ineffective. In fact, it seems to have had a reverse effect as both won by extremely large margins. Perhaps the voters are just fed up with so much negative campaigning.

Now after all is said and done of course, the fact is that what we have here, is a government as duly elected as ever. The people have spoken and in a loud and emphatic voice and it is now the civic duty of every Belizean to respect this mandate. While we must be diligent in holding them to the promises of their manifesto, it is also our responsibility to help in anyway possible, to bring about its fulfillment. We can ill afford to sit around another five years waiting change; for while we wait, it gets late.

With increasing globalization, little Belize sits at risk of being gobbled up by powerful foreign enterprises and if we are to secure a worthwhile future for our children, we must come together as one people to protect and preserve this land that God gave to us. As it is written, a house divided against itself, cannot stand. We must put aside our political differences, join hand in hand and prepare to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. We must not continue to sit around waiting for handouts from politicians but must rise to task of providing for ourselves. To paraphrase the late John F. Kennedy, let us not wait to see what this government will do for us, but let us see what we can do to help this government to work.

With the Last Word, G. Michael Reid.”

The opinions expressed on the Last Word are those of G. Michael Reid and not necessarily those of Channel Five. Viewer comments are welcome.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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