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Oct 6, 2011

Final public consultation on the 9th Amendment

The consultations on the proposed Belize Constitution (Ninth Amendment) Bill, 2011 has been taken on a road show from Belize City to Corozal, Orange Walk, Punta Gorda, Dangriga, and Santa Elena. During the process, which became a show in which large numbers of both diehard P.U.P. and U.D.P. supporters expressed opinions bound by their party’s position, regular citizens still had an opportunity to learn about the constitution, its architects and its original intentions. The government faced some opposition from the Council of Churches and the Bar Association, which resulted in the omission of sections believed to severely limit access to the courts. However, the final stop for the Ninth was the capital on Thursday night.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano attended the final session.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Despite a boycott from supporters of the People’s United Party of the final consultation on the proposed Ninth Amendment Bill, stalwarts of the ruling United Democratic Party converged on the Belmopan Convention Center on Wednesday night donning tee shirts which simply read “Belmopan Supports The 9th Amendment”.  As previously reported the Western Caucus of the P.U.P. sat out the last public forum in protest of what has been described as a political road show.  Nonetheless, John Saldivar, Deputy Chairman of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee, flanked by Cayo South area representative Ramon Witz, filled in for Patrick Faber.

Leading the charge in support of the contentious Ninth Amendment was Belmopan Mayor Simeon Lopez.

Simeon Lopez

Simeon Lopez, Belmopan Mayor

“One utility provider that I would like to see come under this amendment, this Ninth Amendment is Smart, because I only see Belize Telemedia.  So Mr. Chairman with the acquisition of the three utilities: electricity, water, and telecommunications in the hands of the Belizean people majority shareholdings at all times.  I say yes to the Ninth Amendment.”

Elsewhere in line was Noreen Fairweather, National Emergency Coordinator.  Prior to supporting the passage of the bill she questioned government’s controlling shares in the Social Security Board and the fact that it too maybe caught up in the legal wrangling within the constitution.

Noreen Fairweather

Noreen Fairweather

“One of the sections, I believe, 144 speaks to the shares that belong to the Belize Social Security Board as being counted as those of the government but it also says that if the Social Security Board decides to dispose of those shares that the first offer goes to the government.  If we are saying that those shares belong to the government and I understand that the board does make investments in different areas from time to time, my question is and perhaps some clarification from the panel, is is this the best option to follow, in a sense to have the investment of the Belize Social Security Board tied up in amendments in our constitution?  Why is it that the government cannot seek to have fifty-one percent not including those of the investments of the Social Security [Board]?”

Patrick Menzies

Like Fairweather, activist Patrick Menzies approached the podium with more questions concerning the rights of Belizeans within the framework of the constitution.

Patrick Menzies

“Does Section 69 give the people of Belize besides the, we say twenty-four because that’s a three-fourths majority, besides the three-fourths majority in the House, do the people of Belize actually have any rights, please be honest, to make a difference in any amendment to the Constitution because Section 69 does not, in any way, count this type of show that we’re having tonight.  It doesn’t count.  So my question is where else in this Constitution do the people of Belize have a right?”

Former P.U.P. Mayor Anthony Chanona also took the stand to offer a cogent argument in favor of a referendum on the issue of the Ninth Amendment Bill.

Anthony Chanona

Anthony Chanona

“The Government of Belize is on public record stating that the need for the Ninth Amendment was due to the discovery of the Accommodation Agreement.  Since that is the case then the language of the Ninth Amendment should seek to quash all which those Accommodation Agreements achieved and nothing more.  My concerns, and there are three, is about the unbalanced concentration of power in the executive and the legislative arm of government and I heard your presentation just now Mr. Chairman and I respect that.  We as a constitutional government, the will of the people determine the legal composition of our government but that legal right does not give you the moral authority to change the laws of the people without trying at best to consult all the people and the only way I know you can consult all the people in a transparent manner is by binding referendum.”

The Ninth Amendment consultations concluded last night after several weeks of public forums being held across the country.  Despite government’s adamancy to proceed with the passage of the bill in order to enshrine the acquisition of the public utilities into the constitution, it remains to be seen whether a referendum, once the requisite signatures have been garnered, will affect its move forward. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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8 Responses for “Final public consultation on the 9th Amendment”

  1. Lucas says:

    Not to long ago, perhaps less than two months, the Belize times published in one of it’s pages a monograph in which the writer went to great length to convince the reader that judges have the authority to make law. The way I understand it, Judges are not Legislators. They are appointed not elected. The job of a judge is to decide who is right and who is wrong based on the law. On the other hand, a legislator has the authority to make laws for the welfare of the people who alone has the power to decide if they want said law or not and, it is in the best interest of the Legislator for his political survival to listen to the people. In Belize, Judges have been abusing their authority by making laws. For example, the law states that all exotic woods, minerals above and below the ground etc. etc. belong to the govt. which is the people. However, a judge made a ruling against the spirit of said law. I do understand that the purpose of the 9th is to stop such abuses but the problem is that we do not trust govt.. That one thousand voters have expressed their views, is truely not a true representation much-less a true expression of the will of the people. Therefore, to remove all doubts, govt. should listen to the voices demanding a referendum. After listening to the P.M. in several occassions, we have concluded that govt. will ignore such pleas and will rammed said amendment down our throats no matta wat. Let us pray that GOB and any future GOB for that matter, will not be so stupid as to use this amendment for any other reason than for what they say it will be. In any case, let the country of Belize and the Belizean people be now informed and GOB hereby served notice that on the 10th of September of the present year an underground militar arm was formed and, let us leave it at that because in times of trouble; the wise keep silent.

  2. ProudBelizean says:

    Well said, Lucas. Patick Menzies, whom I don’t know but seems to be very much in tune with what is happening, made very valuable comments and questions in Belmopan regarding the proposed 9th Ammendment. Embarassingly, the new Sol Gen opted to embarass him instead of addressing his concerns. And even more embarassing was the boo-ing of “puppet supporters”, whom I guarantee have no idea what they are in support of.

    Instead of trying to get educated on the matter first so they can make a sound decision, they take the pennies issued and went in support. Shame, Shame, Shame!!! A couple hundred dollars won’t take you through another 5 years of sufferation under this administration.

  3. ABC says:

    I agree with both of u, even the solicitor general is a puppet at those functions. They are taken there to agree with government just like the people who were paid a little money to be there, Sol Gen is paid his huge contract salary to be there and agree with everything that is being proposed. We should read and educate ourselves on our own, so we know the truth.

  4. general says:

    click on the link and see what chavez deem to “NATIONALIZE” the trojan word that the udp are using to bribe the people into condemnation.

    wake up Belizean and know exactly what ur are saying yes to..

  5. CEO says:

    The potential for abuse is written into this bill and I am sure it will be abused sooner or later! How do I know this; it’s simple “Power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts ultimately”. bear in mind that most governments are corrupt and are only held to some some legal standards but a court of law. So if they are making the laws and obviously do not care for the opinion of any court to register…This one stinks and there cannot be a smell with no source!

    Make up my people the bus is about to leave the station! Sad to say but it may already be too late!

  6. subKonshus says:

    @CEO…Correction…”most governments are corrupt”, should have been “all governments are corrupt”

  7. Alex is Collins says:

    Hey folks, Will be the U.S. much better off sticking with Syria’s Assad?

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