Draft Constitution: Some comments
We implore our Constituent Assembly members not to bypass the tough decisions, but to take the time and make the effort to work out the major issues in the hallowed halls of the Constituent Assembly, and if they are not able to resolve the issues then to bring it to the people for a referendum, and we will decide
With two sets of 601 Honourable Members of the Constituent Assembly taking close to eight years to put together a draft of the Constitution, we the rest of the 3,00,00,000 normal citizens of the nation for which the Constitution is being promulgated have been given a few days to give our feedback and suggestions on the same.
Keeping the sudden post earthquake urgency to formulate a Constitution I would like to put forth the following suggestions, from my point of view, for discussion and comment.
Only directly elected Representatives should be Members of Parliament and State Assemblies. This idea of setting aside a certain number of seats for proportionate representation will prove to be a myopic decision, and will in turn lead to be a destabilizing element in government.
The elected members are accountable to the people who vote for them, but those nominated on the proportionate basis are
accountable only to those who nominate them and no one else.
Also in many ways this seems like a step away from democracy, whereby we are taking away the power of electing Parliamentarians to some other ‘force’ who can select individuals into Parliament.
If we cannot afford to give unemployment allowance or jobs to our youth, the nation shouldn’t take it upon itself to provide secured positions for those who want to go into politics but can’t face the people for their votes!
We must have faith and trust that those whom we elect will provide the needed support and protection to those who need it, and look after the interests of everyone under the philosophy of priority to the good. What sort of Constitution is our Constituent Assembly getting ready to pass if it passes on all the tough decisions to some future force to take like the delineation of the states and even their names.
By taking this ‘easy way out’ all we are doing is passing the problem forward, and like all issues if we do not nip it in the bud it will be far more difficult to resolve in the future.
Just think forward to a situation where we have a Constitution and when we try to carve out the states we cannot reach an amicable agreement, what then an all out civil war? We should adopt Dr. Harka Gurung’s north-south division of the nation into 5 States and name them after major rivers that flow through them so that each state reflects the Himal, Pahad, Terai character of our nation.
We need to form states in a manner that brings the nation together using our diversity as a unifying factor, not in manner that is divisive and polarizes us on any basis. Yet again in this respect as well we must be guided by the philosophy of giving priority to the good. In other words, we must exhibit foresight when delineating the states so that even the children of our children will not have reason to fight over the lines we draw on the map today.
In addition to this right from the onset there has to be clarity of the authority and responsibility of the national government and state governments so that there is no confusion and conflict in the days ahead.
We should let the people directly elect the Executive Head of the Nation, whether that be President or Prime Minister, and he/she should be able to choose the best individuals as his/her cabinet. By doing this the Executive Head of the nation will be chosen by the people not any party, and he/she will be able to put together a team of the best Nepalis to run his/her government. Also those who run for Parliament will do so not to become ministers but to serve their constituencies and the people.
One of the main voids that we as a nation seem to be facing is the void in leadership, and by allowing for direct election of the Executive Head of the nation we will be facilitating the evolution of national leaders with the vision, ability and charisma to actually lead us all to a better future.
Yet again this will perpetuate the culture of priority to the good as the person who leads the nation will not be chosen because of the position or rank he/she holds in any party or institution, but because the people of Nepal that he/she is to lead place their faith on him/her.
We are in the process of promulgating a Constitution not just some new law or regulation, we the people have shown immense patience year on year to get the best Constitution for abroad and the Nepali people, so now we request those we were elected to complete this task not to rush through the process on the back of an Act of God that shook the ground under our feet.
We implore our Constituent Assembly members not to bypass the tough decisions, but to take the time and make the effort
to work out the major issues in the hallowed halls of the Constituent Assembly, and if they are not able to resolve the issues then to bring it to the people for a referendum, and we will decide.
Let us use this energy and initiative to get not just a Constitution but to get the Constitution that we’ve all waited so long for.