It was clear there was more than one reason that yesterday was truly Private Members’ Day in Parliament—the day for Opposition business. And the Opposition didn’t hesitate to show it.
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PP’s Pyrrhic victory
I followed many of the debates in the Parliament on the Constitution Amendment Bill 2014 and have concluded that the outcome, from the standpoint of the People's Partnership, can be described only as Pyrrhic—a victory costing more to the victor than to the vanquished. In my view, the bill and the outcome of the debates were marred by unnecessary “blood-letting” and naked politicking on a matter so serious as to be dictating the manner of governance of this country.
My reasons for describing the “victory” as Pyrrhic are based on the following:
1. The sessions in both the House of Representatives and the Senate were protracted and were spread over periods extending late into the night, thus emphasising the political import of the bill.
2. However, the habit of all members being allowed to contribute to a debate (in particular those who may be neither “expert” nor who have done the required research on the matter at hand) ought to be better managed by House leaderships for maximum impact.
3. Unlike some MPs, senators, in particular the independent senators, seem to have expended time and effort in researching the materials for their contributions.
4. Notwithstanding the Prime Minister’s removal of the “whip” in the House of Representatives in order to permit a “conscience vote”, it is clear that the UNC faction of the “Partnership”, unlike the COP’s, voted “solid as a rock.”
5. It is significant that six of the nine independent senators (two-thirds) did not support, in toto, the provisions of the bill, even as amended at the behest of the other three.
6. Of importance, notwithstanding the “built-in” majority in the form of the 15 available to it, the Government’s 18-12 “victory” in the Senate was achieved only by its agreeing reluctantly to accept amendments proposed by the three independent senators who, in the finality, voted positively for the bill—amendments which have altered substantially the Government’s original intents in presenting the bill.