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Aug 5, 2011

Chamber President says withdraw 9th Amendment

Kay Menzies

In defense of the ninth amendment, the government this week released a series of ads attempting to change public opinion. But still, public concern grows. On Wednesday the business community also asked the government to withdraw the amendment. Today the President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kay Menzies, explained why the business community believes the amendment will take the country down a dangerous slope since the legislature would have the power to take away any fundamental right or freedom from Belizeans.

Kay Menzies, President, Belize Chamber of Commerce

“We object to the ninth amendment simply because it’s going to challenge our rights and freedoms as Belizeans. The problem with the ninth amendment is that it opens a door that I think we as Belizeans don’t want to see open. If it were only about public utilities, it would be a whole different discussion we would be having right now. But the fact is that this is way beyond anything to do with public utilities. You don’t need to do an entire constitutional amendment just to secure three public utilities—that’s three companies that are public utilities. The fact is that in the end, what happens here is that you take a risk as a Belizean in supporting this amendment of losing the freedoms that you hold so dear right now; freedom of expression, freedom to own property, the rights that you are used to every day of the week. Once you let the ninth amendment go or once the government passes the ninth amendment, any future government can pass any amendment to infringe on those freedoms that we take for granted right now and make those freedoms disappear and you have no opportunity to question that in court. We at the chamber don’t see how that can possibly be healthy for any country.”

Jose Sanchez

“The criticism is that you along with the bar are unnationalistic, P.U.P. and part of a conspiracy. That is the criticism.”

Kay Menzies

“Well that is also the death of freedom of speech noh? When you dare to question, when you dare to oppose, you are the enemy and you must be absolutely destroyed. I think in the Belize that I know and love, you have a right to question everything and the product of democracy is healthy debate. This is unhealthy and there is a reason why it is unhealthy.”

Jose Sanchez

“The government says because of ouster clauses, you can challenge the procedure in court—that is your right.”

Kay Menzies

“Ah, but the thing is right now you can challenge the substance of an amendment in regards to how it affects the freedoms already granted under the constitution; already enshrined in the constitution. If the amendment passes, you can no longer question the substance. If the government passes an amendment that says that you will lose your property because somebody down the road is better looking and they should have your property. If that is a constitutional amendment, you can walk into the court and the court will say it was passed by the requisite majority in the house, it was passed by the requisite majority in the senate, in the intervening time between the first reading and the second reading it had the ninety days of lying on the table, the speaker provided a certificate to the governor general saying that everything was complied with and the Governor General signs it into law. That is all that the court will be able to look at. The fact that you lost your land unfairly due to a constitutional amendment will not even be able to be questioned. The court will say to you, I am so sorry about that but there is nothing I can do. So the thing in our three branches of our government is the executive and the legislative are one of the same because the legislative can’t oppose the executive for fear of crossing the floor and losing their seats in the house, which leaves us only with the judiciary questioning the matter and now the judiciary will not be able to question the matter. This is why we talk about parliamentary supremacy because at the end of the day, the house will rule all without question.”

Jose Sanchez

“The government saying that there are already ouster clauses that prevent judicial review and that they are simply putting on paper what is already implied and given to them by the constitution.”

Kay Menzies

“Well gosh if it’s already in there, why put it in again?”

The first public consultation will be held next Wednesday night at seven at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall.

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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1 Response for “Chamber President says withdraw 9th Amendment”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    Ms Menzies must be lauded because of the strident and vociferous stand against Barrow’s dictatorship. The business community will suffer immensely if Barrow succeeds and he seeks revenge . Remember this man seeks the destruction of Belizeans while he promotes the superiority of the Caribbean where he studied and lived. What no one states is the entire Caribbean is in a very bad state ,financially,politically, Caricom in the dumps ( because each country wants to be paramount and none has money or resources), legally and economically. Keep up the good, rational thrusts Ms. Menzies and help to save Belize from these home grown predators led by Barrow.

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