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Original Posting: New Political System for the Information Age Draft #05

In reponse to Re: For A Safe Democracy and An Effective Government - [Bernard Clayson]
Email: Sun, 1 Aug 2004 13:53:39 -0700

Re(1): For A Safe Democracy and An Effective Government
Monday, 09 August 2004 18:00 Singapore

[Bernard Clayson]:

My suggestion is the community choses the best person, the 'community' is extended each time they are elevated up the hirearchy until the 'community' is the country in the case of the PM.
So who is he/she going to 'bribe' to keep the position of PM.”

[lpc1998]:

“If this is the case, then we are substantially in full agreement on by whom the national leader is to be elected. In the your NPS, the PM is directly elected by all the people in the country, whom you prefer to call them as the PM's 'community', whereas, in the New Political System for the Information Age, the President is also directly elected by all the people called the 'people'. In essence what you call the PM, I call the President.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“The only difference that I could see was the executive and judicial (legislative) powers, those functions should not be combined, and I am not too happy with the executive function either.
Power begets power, delegated functions needed to be carefully described before being given.”

[lpc1998]:

“You are right that the powers constitutionally vested in the PM in your NPS are radically different from the those of the President in the New Poltical System for the Information Age. The full agreement I refer to above is limited to on "by whom the national leader is to be elected".

Now you have raised the objection to the vesting of both the executive and legislative powers in the President. This is a very substantive issue.

Would you put forward the worst case scenario when the President is vested with both the executive and legislative powers as proposed in the NPS Draft #05?”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Quite simply if one person had both executive and legislative powers, he/she could remove the publics right to vote on issues.
Powers vested in anybody, or bodies, can only be by removing them from other bodies i.e. the public.
Legally, neither the public, or the senate, would have any means of censor, democracy would become dictatorship”

[lpc1998]:

“It is good that you are ever vigilant against any possible dictatorship.

What you say here may be generally true in the existing political systems where legislative powers include the powers to amend or make changes to the Constitution without a referendum and where the Legislature has the monpoly of making, amending or repealing the laws.

The principle of separation of executive and legislative powers as practised in the existing political systems and in which you have relied on to ward off dictatorship would fail when a single political party or alliance or coalition seizes control of both the Executive Office and the Legislature by means, fair or foul. And with sufficient majority to amend the Constitution as it pleases to remove the constitutional safeguards and adding in the dictatorial provisions, the country would become a dictatorship by constitutional means. This has already happened in the world. And citizens have woken up to their horror that this principle of separation of powers has given them a false sense of security.

In the New Political System for the Information Age Draft #05 (NPS), there are stringent constitutional safeguards that makes it absolutely impossible for the elected President, notwithstanding the executive and legislative powers being vested in him, to take away constitutionally the voting rights of the people without their consent and transforming a demoncracy into a dictatorship.

Safeguard #1: Constitution as the Will of the People

The voting rights of the people are enshrined in the Constitution and to take away such rights the Constitution has to be amended. In the NPS unlike the existing political systems, the Constitution is truly put beyond the reach of the President so that there is no way he could constitutionally amended the Constitution without a referendum asking the people to take away the voting rights from the people.

Furthermore in the NPS, for removing or amending fundamental principles in the Constitution, it requires not less than 75% majority vote in a referendum or citizens' initiative, which in practice is a near impossibility unless the overwhelming majority of the people want the changes.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Writing a constitution does not mean it will be obeyed, read the US Constitution and find what is not being complied with.”
You are right to point out that there are provisions in the US Constitution that are not obeyed. Why this is so? The answer lies in the way the judges and other relevant public officials are appointed to or removed from office or in the way they are remunerated. The President always has a very substantial say in these matters.

In fact, this is not a peculiarity of the US Constitution. There are many other Constitutions that are more blatantly disobeyed. This is one of the very important reasons why we need a New Political System where the Constitution is truthfully and faithfully upheld and obeyed since the existing political systems do not. :)

So the New Political System we are searching for must be able to address this problem by uphelding the sovereignty of the people and by the transparency of the system so that the corruption, dishonesty and deception of the existing political systems are seriosly dealt with and rapidly phased out.

In short, the failure to obey the Constitution is not always the fault of the Constitution. It is due to the corruption, dishonesty and deception of the existing political systems.

[lpc1998]:

Safeguard #2: Independent Institutions or Bodies (IIB)

In the NPS unlike the existing political systems, the Judiciary, Election Commission, and other Independent Institutions or Bodies are truly independent of the President who has absolutely no say their appointements, removals or remunerations or other benefits. So the influence of the President on these public officials would be practically zero.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Yet the President has executive powers over what they do.”
No, this is not true in the NPS where such insitutions or bodies are constitutionally independent of the President. This is precisely why they are constitutionally described as the Independent Institutions or Bodies, meaning being independent of the President. If the President has executive powers over what they do, then they are not truly independent of the President like what often happens in the existing political systems.

[lpc1998]:

Safeguard #3: Immunity from Prosecution and Lawsuits

All members of the Senate, Council of Veterans and Independent Institutions or Bodies are immune from prosecution by the government and from lawsuits.

This is to prevent the President or anybody else from using minor personal weaknesses or indiscretions of these public officials as excuses for the blackmail or harassment of the these public officials, especially for minor offences committed many years ago. The use (or the threat to use) of libel lawsuits to shut up critical reports or public discussions by these public officials would be a thing of the past.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“What would you do if those 'weaknesses' were fact, a child molester in charge of children's welfare, or a fraudster in charge of banking, etc. etc.
It has happened, and protection from immunity would safeguard them.”
In the NPS, if the offence or crime is grave, there will be massive public disquiet owing to the transparency of the system. If the offender were a Senator, the Senate would held a public inquiry and remove him from office expeditiously, and he would lose not only his job but also his immunity from prosecution and lawsuits:
“.....

Clause:

7     Nevertheless, the transparency of the NPS is a powerful deterrent against official corruption and wrongdoing.

8     Moreover, elected officials with limited office tenure would still be discouraged from wrongdoings or excesses as they are open to prosecution or lawsuits once their office tenure ends.

9     On and above this, the NPS also has provisions which could be used for the removal from office of any senior public official with unacceptable conduct or who has committed serious offences.

10     Any such removal from office is tantamount to the withdraw of the immunity from prosecution or lawsuits.”

If he were a councillor, he will, similarly, be dealt with by the Council of Veterans.

If he were a member of the Independent Institution or Bodies, either or both the Senate and the Council of Veterans could set up investigating committee to look into the matter, and the Council of Veterans would then recommend to the Senate for his dismissal from office.

If either or both the Senate and the Council of Veterans were too slow act decisively, then the outraged members of the public could propose a citizens initiative to remove the offender from office.

[lpc1998]:

Safeguard #4: Impeachment of the President

The President could be removed from office at any time by the Senate with two-thirds majority of the Senators present and voting. This is to provide a fast and efficient way of getting rid of a really bad or incompetent President.

Again as this power of the Senate is also enshrined in the Constitution, there is no way the President could constitutionally render the Senate ineffective without first amending the Constitution through a referendum.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Who would enforce it, and what would happen if the people objected to the President and the Senate approved of his/her actions.”
In the NPS, it is always the people themselves who would enforce what they want or need through the citizens' initiative. This is what 'the people retain at all times their sovereign powers' means in practice.

So in such an eventuality there are 3 courses of action open to the people:

  1. Propose a citizens' initiative to remove the undesirable President from office

  2. Elect a new Senate to do the job after the Council of Veterans has dissolved the existing one:
    “....

    Dissolution of the Senate:

    10     The House of Justice shall have the powers to recommend the dissolution of the Senate to the Council of Veterans, if in its opinion there is a compelling case for such a dissolution after hearing the written petition of not less than 10% of the qualified voters as at the date of the petition.

    11     Upon such a recommendation of the House of Justice, the Senate shall be dissolved and a new senatorial election shall be called, if not less than two-thirds (2/3) of the Councillors present and voting vote in favour of the dissolution.”

  3. Propose a citizens' initiative to elect a new Senate to do the job after dissolving the existng one

[lpc1998]:

Safeguard #5: Bad Legislation Immediately Inoperative

The Judiciary has the constitutional duty to review for bad or poor quality legislations and on an urgent basis whenever it is necessary.

Any legislation or any part thereof found by the Judiciary in its absolute discretion to be bad or poor quality would cease to be operative immediately and would first be returned to the President (or the Parliament) for amendment within the time as prescribed by the Judiciary failing which it would then be referred to the Senate for approval or veto.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“The judiciary are people, they have their own vested interests, put two lawyer together and you will get three answers so how will they be the best judge of bad, or poor quality legislation.”
The problems of corruption, vested interests and incompetence in the Judiciary are dealt with through the transparency of the NPS under Safeguard #10. Safeguard #5 is primarily to provide for quick response to bad or poor quality legislation by a corrupt or incompetent President.

It is correct to say that the judges may be not be perfect in carrying out their duties, but as trained professionals in a specialised relevant field, they are the best available in the market for the job.

[Bernard Clayson]:

“If all legislation went through the process as I have described, the judiciary input would be there for everyone to judge on.”
Are you referring to the ad hoc group of lay volunteers as the process you have described?

Transparency is one of the core tenets of the NPS. Both the Senate and the Council of Veterans could call for a public hearings and participation of any process incuding the judicial processes, save those involving national security and state secrets.

Here lies the difference between your New Political System and the NPS. The NPS achieves transparency and public participation through the Senate and the Council of Veterans, whereas your New Political System does so through the ad hoc group of lay volunteers.

[lpc1998]:

Safeguard #6: Independent and Objective State Media

The National Media Commission is constitutionally empowered to ensure that the national media and information infrastructures are fully independent of the President and the government, and that its news reports, articles, editorials and documentaries are to be as free from the governmental or presidential propaganda as the circumstances could permit.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Who can judge propaganda from fact, censorship of one persons belief in a 'fact' can be promotion of another persons belief in the opposite 'fact'.”
In the NPS, there would be minimal censorship on ground of national security and state secrets as it is an exceedingly transparent system. The National Media Commission would consult the President and his Administration over anything it considers to be presidential or governmental propaganda and any disagreement would be widely publicized for the people to judge. Therefore, there is no need for censorship. In such circumstances, it would be very foolish for a President to dispute the professional assessments of the National Media Commission unless he could justify his publications or actions before the people.

[lpc1998]:

Safeguard #7: Appointed Public Officials are professionally selected and assessed

The Talent Development Institute would professionally, objectively and independently select and assess candidates for appointement to the Council of Veterans and to the Independent Institutions or Bodies (other than the TDI itself), free from the influence and interference from the President.

Safeguard #8: Free, fair, secure and efficient elections, referendums and citizens' initiatives

The Election Commission is constitutionally empowered to provide free, fair, secure and efficient elections, referendums and citizens' initiatives. There is no way for the President to interfere with the elections, referendums and citizens' initiatives constitutionally.

Safeguard #9: Unjust laws rendered ineffective

The House of Justice is constitutionally empowered to set aside unjust judicial judgements and to vary the sentences that are meted by the Courts of Law to what is just according to an agreed standard and principles of justice subject to a nominal sum of S$1.00. So extremely unjust laws is practically ineffective worth only a niminal sum of $1.00.

Safeguard #10: Transparency of Government and Public Service

Clause 19 under Senate:

“The Senate shall have the powers to appoint the appropriate investigating committee to look into allegations or suspicions of wrongdoing or malpractice by any person holding a public office including the President with the exception of the Councillors. The proceedings of such a investigating committee shall be telecasted live over national television and the Internet except those parts of the proceedings that involve the issues of national security and state secrets unless authorised otherwise by the Senate”
Similarly, Clause 13 under Council of Veterans:
“The Council of Veterans shall have the powers to appoint the appropriate investigating committee to look into allegations or suspicions of wrongdoing or malpractice by any person holding a public office including the President with the exception of the Senators. The proceedings of such a investigating committee shall be telecasted live over national television and the Internet except for those parts of the proceedings that involve the issues of national security and state secrets unless authorised otherwise by the Council of Veterans”

Safeguard #11: Voter Education and People's Participation in Public Affairs

There is no better safeguard for democracy than a politically aware, informed and active people.

So the Election Commission is constitutionally responsible for the voter education for raising political awareness and participation by the people (Election Commission, Clause 2).

Safeguard #12: People Power

In case, any or all of the other safeguards fail, the people could still resort to People Power.

Unlike the existing political systems, the people retain at all times their sovereign powers and could exercise their sovereign powers at any time through the citizens' initiatives or referendums, not once in 4 or 5 years during the general elections.

This retention and exercise of sovereign powers by the people themselves through the citizens' initiatives, referendums and elections makes the NPS a Direct Democracy System, as there is direct rule by the people.

The above 12 safeguards are by no means exhaustive. They are only the main safeguards against dictatorship in the New Political System for the Information Age Draft #05 which contains numerous other safeguards as well.”

[Bernard Clayson]:

“I stopped inserting comments because I was at risk of repeating myself.”
Hmm .. this is another way of saying you have no more fresh comments to make. *grin*

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Stop and think about it, you are inserting clauses etc to cover weak points without reassessing the basic principles.”
Would you like to give specific examples of such instances?

[Bernard Clayson]:

“Each clause etc is delegating powers to other bodies, it is becoming a bureaucratic jungle, each delegation removes equal powers from the people, yet you are holding it up as democracy.
Try and view it this way, democracy is one dollar with 100 cents, every delegated power, from President down through Senate and various bodies, removes cents from that dollar, by the time it gets to the public, that dollar is only worth 10 cents.”
I do not agree with this view of democracy. True democracy is a political system where the people is sovereign.

So in a true demcracy, the people are more like the owners of a business and the public officials are like the managers and other employees. In delegating specific responsibilty and authority to the managers and the other employees to do the needed jobs, the owners suffer no loss of ownership or authority which the owners could still exercise at any time. As the managers and employees could be hired or fired at the discretion of the owners, subject to the terms of the employment contracts, the public officials could similarly be hired and fired at the discretion of the people.

[Bernard Clayson]:

“There can only be one executive in a democracy, the public.”
This is absolutely false. The people could not act as an executive in a political system including a democracy. This is because the people are made up of numerous individuals often running into tens or even hundreds of millions. So there is no way they could get together to do a job even if they have the time and expertise to do so. The job must be delegated to an individual or a group of individuals to be performed. The disagreement here in the various political systems is the status, power and authority of such an individual or group of individuals.

In your case, you somehow believe that ad hoc groups of lay volunteers performing public services in a transparent system would solve the problems of corruption and abuse of office powers and somehow paid trained professionals in the same system would remain as corrupt and abusive of office powers as in the existing political systems.

Best Regards
lpc1998
New Political System for the Information Age

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