Monday, May 20th

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Editorial - Put up or shut up

Parliamentarian Maurice Lake has a point (see Thursday paper). The persistent rumours that government is about to fall aren’t doing society much good.

As he is one of the persons being mentioned who might make such a political crisis a reality, his opinion definitely counts. After all, the Gumbs cabinet is backed by 10 of 15 seats in Parliament, which means no fewer than three current members of the UP-led coalition would have to withdraw their support.

That’s just not likely to happen, also considering the criticism, especially after the most recent election, on the practice of “jumping ship” for what seem rather opportunistic reasons. This aspect also was mentioned specifically in the integrity report of Transparency International (TI), while local political analyst Julio Romney submitted a revised version of his draft amendment to the Electoral Ordinance to prevent legislators from going independent and keeping the seats they won on a party’s list, often using them to form other alliances.

It’s been said before, but the basis of the current system is that every parliamentarian takes the oath of office to act and vote according to his or her conscience and not necessarily to toe the party line. Should elected representatives – whether based on preferential personal votes or not – have to fear for their positions were they to disagree with fraction colleagues, complying with that pledge probably would not become any easier.

Media outlets indeed need to guard against being used for political games. If certain members are serious about breaking with the coalition, they should not send out covert messages in an apparent attempt to destabilise the situation, but should lay their cards squarely on the table for everybody to see.

What is happening now reminds one of the Papiamentu saying “tira piedra, skonde man” (throw stone, hide hand). The people are sick and tired of innuendos and half- truths. Those directly involved need to either put up or shut up.