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Different Strokes



Dealing with the CIP issueA veritable firestorm of blogging and commentary has followed the tortuous path taken by the now infamous Citizenship by Investment Programme Act of 2013 to its ultimate resting place on the Governor General’s desk.

One recurring theme among the many comments has been some measure of surprise at the different strategy that the Antigua & Barbuda Labour Party has chosen to follow in dealing with the CIP issue, as contrasted with one notable other.

Many commentators have wondered at the relatively laid-back attitude the opposition party appears to be taking towards the CIP Bill. On the other hand, say these skeptics, when it comes to the Report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission it seems as if the ABLP is ready to climb the walls and call down fire and brimstone upon the heads of the ruling party.



Why, so many bloggers ask, did not the ABLP charge into the High Court with the same urgency displayed by Member of Parliament Asot Michael – supported by leader emeritus Lester Bird – and stop further movement on the CIP Bill dead in its tracks? Is not the CIP as critically important to the country’s future as is the boundaries issue?

Commentators wise in the ways of local politicians point darkly in the direction of ABLP leader Gaston Browne, widely considered to have been the one who introduced the whole idea of economic citizenship to Antigua & Barbuda in the first place. Could it be, they ask with a nod and a wink, that the wily Gaston might just be planning to let the desperate United Progressive Party pay the political price for taking the lead on the controversial measure … then quietly appropriate the benefits for his own party after a successful general elections campaign?

This sort of reasoning has a ready constituency, if even because such behavior is all too common in the murky world of political competition. Just as in the martial art of Ju-jitsu, in politics it is advisable to let your opponent fall by his own weight: it minimizes stress on the organization. Nobody ever said that the business of the people has to be any nicer than the people themselves.

Politics shares at least one biblical principle with the rest of the world. Just as in any field of endeavor people are judged by their fruits, so politicians and parties are judged by their track record. One liability that hampers the ABLP as it seeks to re-invent itself in the public mind is a certain reputation for first opposing issues for political reasons, only to flip-flop later, adopting the same programme for its own partisan benefit. Many people bitterly recall the perfidy displayed by the VC Bird-led ALP when it won the 1976 General Elections on an anti-independence platform – only to reverse itself once in power and take the country into independence.

People who can remember that Machiavellian betrayal confidently expect Gaston Browne to emulate the Father of the Nation. Believing the ABLP leader to be privately in favor of an economic citizenship programme, these world-weary citizens believe that Browne is merely going through the motions on the CIP Act. They expect the ABLP to acquiesce in the eventual passage of the legislation, while extracting maximum political advantage from the affair. They prophesy that, upon winning election, the resurgent ABLP will immediately close the door on the matter, content to reap the benefits for their own administration.

In the murky world of the people’s business all of the foregoing is quite possible. If the ABLP leadership is indeed intent on pulling a fast one on the people … it is up to the people to duck.

This trend of thought leads to the matter of judgment, and to the different kinds of court that deliver judgments of various sorts on behalf of the body politic.

As this editorial is written the High Court is gearing up to hear arguments surrounding the challenge mounted by MPs Asot Michael and Lester Bird against the boundaries commission report. By the time this editorial is published the ABLP may have made good on freshman ABLP Senator Samantha Marshall’s indication that the party would decide “by Friday (22)” whether to pursue a legal challenge to the CIP Act, and in what form to pursue that challenge. “Going through the motions” or not, the ABLP seems to be quite willing to consult the courts over the issue: the courts of law, at least.

Of course, there are other courts. And people who understand these things know that only too often these are the courts that ultimately matter the most. The first that springs to mind is the often-quoted court of public opinion. That is the court whose workings are grinding their way out right now, as the bloggers and commentators post their contributions to the ongoing debate. The radio talk show phone lines are buzzing with “logical” arguments framed by indignant callers unaccustomed to reasoned thought. Wherever people gather, the talk is of the CIP and of what lies behind the boundaries report.

Yet there is a court that is higher even than the court of public opinion, though related: the higher grows out of the lower, which forms the base – and the conventional wisdom may for once at least be completely on the ball. The leaders of the contending political parties have their eyes firmly fixed on the fast-approaching general elections constitutionally due by March 2014.

This means that the blog debates and the radio call-in shows and the high court cases will all shortly be eclipsed by the long awaited moment of decision. Until then the ruling party will continue to do what it believes it has to do to keep our ship of state from running aground while keeping a grip on the levers of power. The opposition party will continue to do what it can to frustrate the ruling party in its latter objective, while trying not to unduly hinder the government’s successful pursuit of the former.



This is a fine balancing act indeed, but nevertheless one called for by the Constitution of Antigua & Barbuda. One of the useful features of that document is that it provides a framework within which the business of state is conducted, but leaves much room for maneuver within its scope. Our constitution is a one-size-fits-all garment: how we as a people wear it is up to us – and the electorate has an ultimate court in which to deliver its judgment when, God willing, that day comes.

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10 Comments In This Article   

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RE: Different Strokes



#10 CIROC » 2013-03-24 18:31

I will go on the record today 3/24/13.If the CIP is a success,the ALP would not scrap it.Regardless of what Gaston and Molwyn are saying in opposition.It is one thing to oppose when you are not the ruling party.Most political parties usually continue the good programs by a former government.They are just pandering to their base.
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CIROC

oops

#9 sleuth5000 » 2013-03-24 12:03

If memory serves well that programme commenced long time ago though latently by the ABLP under the former PM LB Bird when it was found that a certain Chiny man was found with a set of A & B passports. Said man had to be given security for a time. Not forgetting the other program where he they had a Dominican Republic national giving out A&B passports illegally. Said man who was working as a garbage collector had access to the then PM's office. Well the man fled before ths COPPAS got to Passport office never prosecuted. It was not legislated then but it was rife in the A&BLP. How all involved were never prosecuted ask those who was in charge of security. Who the top b** reports/accounts to? Sssssshuuuuuuuuuuuuu uu.
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Asot Michael

#8 court of justice » 2013-03-24 12:03

Labour Party and Gaston would never win Elections with Asot Michael
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court of justice

cryptologists vs clairvoyant

#7 tenman » 2013-03-24 12:02

Lord Have Mercy, you are now into cryptology (reading/ deciphering encoded messages)? Seems to me you are more working at being a clairvoyant. Hopefully just like a pollster should, you would also remove all possible bias. I will be honest and state I don't know if you are correct. However, simply looking at his record on this issue, he did vote against the bill as he initially promised he would do, if he felt there was not wide spread support. Perhaps you would argue that if the government needed an extra vote, he would have sided with them? Again that's a road I cannot go down since I don't have that talent you may or not have

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tenman

@ Dig it: Watch the clever choice of words

#6 Lord Have Mercy » 2013-03-24 11:27

Quote:
I am the one that first put forward the initiative and I don’t have any philosophical differences with the programme.
I have a lot of experience in dealing with the Coded Language of the ALP/ABLP, so Let me help you to decipher the true meaning of that statement. First we have to combine it with another statement from GB.
Quote:
If the people are against it we will not move forward with it.
You realize that the ABLP has adopted a system of using Polls to determine if they should or should not do something. In that light, all that GB has to do to save face if he gets elected is to conduct one of the ABLP famous "Polls" that will inevitably show that a majority of Antiguans are in favor of CIP and then he can publicly embraces the CIP.

Note there is no use of words like REPEAL or any statement of any intention to do so. Antigua has to be very careful with GB, everything he says is Political Morse Code. But he did not expect that we have some cryptologists out here.
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Lord Have Mercy

RE: Different Strokes



#5 Champedo » 2013-03-24 11:02

What is all this talk about CIP. Is it bad policy? What exactly are the arguments for and against it.
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Champedo

Will of the people...same old rhetoric!

#4 Dig It » 2013-03-24 10:57

While I do believe the "court of public opinion" matters, it can be easily 'ignored' if our leaders or politicians are "Arogrant-Corrupt-an d-Oblivious (ACO)" to the people! The sad part is that the Constitution is 'overlooked' when 'dollar-signs' are in our politicians sights. Regardless of who started the CIP bill or debate, it is not favored by the majority and should never be in these lands or in the hands of those that is not properly 'screened' or will never set foot on these soil. The CL said "...I am the one that first put forward the initiative and I don’t have any philosophical differences with the programme.” Is this any indication or admission that CIP will be "scrapped" once the ABLP takes helm of the wheel? Let's hope that the "will of the people" will always be there! I don't!
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Dig It

Kenred

#3 tenman » 2013-03-24 09:47

Kenred, the opposition leader in parliament has stated that if and when elected, if the people are against the CIP, it would be scrapped. MP Joseph during the same debate, stated (promised) it will be scrapped, giving no conditional test for support.

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tenman

@ Colin

#2 Jimmy » 2013-03-24 07:22

Dear Colin,

Please remember that a Leader alone doesn't make a Party!

If the New Leader goes against his people and agrees to do something his Party has objected to before the elections, then it's up to the other members of his cabinet and party to "read him the riot act"! If they don't...they they are just as wrong as he is!

In any case I believe that Browne (unlike Baldwin who-by the way flip-flopped on almost every promise) will be more forthright and at least check the pulse of the people before indulging in the CIP - as he promised.

The biggest joke is that the funds for the CIP Bill is going to help the treasury pay every conceivable outstanding Invoice - yet the money ain't going into the consolidated fund. It's going into a fund controlled by Baldwin Spencer.
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Jimmy

RE: Different Strokes



#1 Kenred » 2013-03-24 06:03

I for one would like to hear Gaston Browne publicly state his position and what he will do should the CIP be implemented and the ALP then wins the general election. Will he simply adopt the CIP once he is in power and continue it, or will he repeal it? He has publicly stated several times that if the people are against it, then it should not proceed. It is easy to take this position when one is not in power. Will he maintain this position once he is Prime Minister? I want to know before I cast my vote in the next election. I want Gaston to make his position clear now.
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Kenred

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Mr. Colin Sampson

 Mr. Colin Sampson is a Journalist and the host of "The Colin Sampson Show" on Caribantigua TV 

 

 

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