Tuesday, 1 March 2011

IT IS TIME TO GET A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE BENCH!

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Comrades; worthy representatives of the Legislature and the Executive, please pay me heed in this urgent clarion call.
History, aided by that meddlesome French Baron (let the man who can, pronounce his last name unimpeded) has against good judgment pitched us in a state of needless rivalry. Not surprisingly, the wave has struck a right chord with the ever gullible common man.
Of course, many have ignored the Baron’s self-righteous posturing and stuck to the good old method of merging our powers as one and the same. Sadly, our State abandoned that progressive course after a tantalizingly short-lived experiment and adopted this journey into the grotesque (note how well the word rhymes with the Baron’s last name). A process that stifles the ideal partnership; and the many potentials for economy of scale. Who needs checks and balances when you can get cheques and even more rounded balances within this partnership? And who says account-ability must be conjoined as one word?
Such ugly phrases as probity, petitions, impeachment, should be extinguished, and Veto put to the sword. Unfortunately, we have stayed silent for so long, and are poised to suffer the ills of this tragic preference.

To escalate the anomaly, the State provides a Third Arm to oversee our acts! Now, how further denigrating can the situation get, especially when this intrusive Arm is immunized with ‘independence’? Yes! You can spend long months agonizing over a legislation; which in the ideal partnership, I would cheerily assent (especially if it creates yet another Agency to douse the needs of our faithful). And what happens next? It is struck off as null and void, or at best, dealt the patronizing blue pencil treatment. This, by the Arm of busybodies!
Going further, let us not forget that this Arm, emboldened by its independence from checks, struts about with the grossly immodest title, Supreme, affixed to its apex institution. Now, dare any of us speak of a supreme Legislature or a supreme Executive and see if the common man (that accursed lot!) will not instantly yelp of a coup?

And talking of a coup; if only those uniformed fellows constrained their emasculation to this Third Arm, they would provide a panacea…No! They are not an option!
And yet another liberty this Arm takes: Does anybody get elected to positions therein? No! They simply brow-beat us in a ratification exercise that is at best, mere formality. But we must necessarily endure that grueling process of courting voters, and worse, also suffer the humiliation of tribunals under the same Arm!
The bitter truth stares us in the face: We are powerless before them! They co-opt the common man’s sympathies by sniffling that they are the weakest in the midst of two bullies, and that loathsome horde wields unquestioning mass support for them as a result.

But comrades; are all hopes dead?
Recently our State has been bedeviled by happenings that can only be interpreted as ‘signs of the times’
These happenings have taught me that signs of the times are not usually cataclysmic horrors. Sometimes they wear a cheery look; confirming the projections of a beatific hereafter as a quite feasible possibility after all.
Have you not noticed? They have risen against one other, our common foe! Their pretences at sainthood have worn thin, and revealed the typical human within. They now fight for the prize, and how brazen their battle is! Name callings, blackmail, calumny; the works! Those of you who cherish a good bottle can agree that there is no bench-mark for a typical bar-room scuffle. These folks are no different.
In the past, they accused us of corruption, but this has grown stale to the common man. Thus, the sheer novelty of this in-fighting will overwhelm them. There is truly no spectacle as rapturous as the sight of a fallen angel.

So, what do we do? Stand and watch? No no!
We shall inject a fine spray of oil to the troubled fires, and let the common man see that his last hope has crumbled from hidden rot. In our magnanimity, we shall certainly not leave them hope-less. We will simply make them hope for less, henceforth.
First step: From the upper chambers of the Legislature, we shall instigate an outcry, and make ostensible moves to ‘get to the root of the matter.’  Oh, yes there is an intermediate Council that will scream of independence, but riding on the dazed dismay of the common man, we shall prevail.
Mind you, they will kick and fight, because while our immunity is not absolute, theirs continue till death. Whenever they swivel that gavel, they feel like gods. 
They will claw and bite. They will brandish the grundnorm as a shield, and lead the entire pack of the unruly bar baying for blood.
And this is when we win! We shall yell that there is a loophole which the system has hidden for so long. Who will judge the judges? Do we fold our hands and let the sanctity of the state fall under the weight of life-time immunity? And we shall announce to the common man: “No, brethren, the powers to judge them is neither in the hands of Legislature nor the Executive, they are entirely yours! Yours, Mr. Common man!”
The common man (in his fortunate gullibility) will nod maniacally at this logic which for once will empower him, not through the arguments of a counsel, but directly. We shall spew forth flowery speeches of betrayal. We might even get a courageous commoner to self-immolate to the rhythm of our chants: “They are supreme! They are infallible! They have betrayed your trust!”

And the fires will start burning. For once in our half-century, we shall be blameless of the usual cynical accusations. We will become the poor misunderstood victims, who do all the thankless work, while the Arm grows fat on its bench… merely interpreting.
No time will be more opportune to rekindle our union.
All this while, our chants will rise in crescendo: “The elections are your will! Let the numbers show your supremacy, not some Supreme institution that blocks your right despite possible stirrings of dissatisfaction!”
And you know common man is a sucker for clich├ęs. So we shall coin a few: Have you made for ourselves small gods, in whose Case there is No Appeal?

We shall tell them how flexible administrative tribunals are; or better still the ideal out-of court settlement: membership of the right parties. We shall teach them the right allegiances, and instruct them on how compromise is preferable to years of drawn out bitterness and expenses incurred in seeking dubious justice.
So now, let the war begin! Let the press flow in grimy inks of red alert. Let the chambers of the Legislature reverberate in shocked disbelief. Let the Executive issue statements of grief and sorrow.
The good Lord, in his wisdom gave us humans two arms, to function in symmetry. A third arm is clearly an excess!

Remember, the common man is soccer crazy too, so we shall complete the seduction with a well couched slogan:
“It is time to get a Substitute for the Bench!”

Thank you all!




First Published in Thisday Newspapers: March 1, 2011

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