By RASHAD ROLLE
GEORGE Smith, former Exuma MP told an audience that the anniversary of independence should prompt Bahamians to consider creating a “more perfect, modern yet progressive constitution”.
Remarking on such issues as gambling, citizenship, and corporal punishment, Mr Smith said: “We are now engaged in the vital task of crafting a constitution for a more just, fair and prosperous society. The preamble to the Constitution must continue to speak to and examine our enduring values.”
His remarks were delivered during the Delta Lambda Boule Dinner at the Balmoral Club.
“I would strongly advise that there be recognition of our growing multiculturalism and different spiritual beliefs in the society,” he said.
“I firmly believe that no position in the Bahamas should be beyond the reach of a Bahamian. Therefore it follows that the Office of ‘Head of State’ should be held by a Bahamian. We should create a Republic (The Republic of The Bahamas) with the duties presently prescribed for the role of Governor-General to be carried out by a President.”
“I consider,” he continued, “that we should abolish the existence of the Senate, which has long ceased to perform in the intended manner.”
Any provision in the Constitution that permits the conduct of a lottery or the carrying on of gambling which ‘impose disabilities or restrictions on citizens of The Bahamas must be eliminated.’
“On the issue of citizenship, I am a supporter of a more modern approach to citizenship, one that has its connection to the new paradigm of national development. In this regard, the modern constitution must remove any and all ambiguities that exist relative to citizenship,” he said.
“We should expand the existing provisions and remove the prohibitions which prevents Bahamian mothers form conferring citizenship to their children. And, I firmly believe, that we should allow for those persons who were born in the Bahamas and have continuously resided in the Bahamas for eighteen years or more, and who have a close connection and affinity to the Bahamas to become citizens of the Bahamas upon their making application for citizenship.”
He added: “I believe that there should be a provision that expressly prohibits the right to bail in capital cases or serious criminal matters and similarly the issue of the death penalty should be addressed and settled. I believe the death penalty should be abolished.”
Speaking about the “road to independence,” Mr Smith said: “The journey to July 10, 1973 was very long and fraught with many dangers, rebellion, revolts, violence, frustration, success and ‘yes, even deaths’. The road we trod was hard, that is why we the inheritors of and successors of these islands, cays, rocks, shallows, banks and shoals must protect and love our sovereign land.”