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Equal Access and Equal Opportunities for all …..

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Topic: Equal Access and Equal Opportunities for all ensure a Peaceful and Developed Society

Address given by Major General (retd) Joseph G Singh MSS, MSc, FRGS

At a Public Forum at Linden, on Monday, February 28, 2011

Article13 of our Constitution states:The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organizations in the management and decision-making of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well being”.

1. The Rising of the People

Chairperson, Chairman and Members of the ERC, Ladies and Gentlemen, and youths. I am sure that most of you have been following the recent events in the Arab States where citizens have taken to the streets in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya to demonstrate against authoritarianism, lack of freedoms, self serving systems of governance, corruption, lack of jobs and opportunities and the pervasive presence of State-sponsored security.

While the specific country circumstances may vary, one common thread seems to be the preparedness of people, the ordinary citizens, to empower themselves to demonstrate against injustices by using the tools of technology, the social networks, and the philosophy of and moral suasion of peaceful protest, to unsettle the incumbent power and to bring about their removal from office and power.

2. What has brought about this chain reaction?

I believe that there is a shared vision among all people to live in peace and harmony and at the same time to develop in such a manner that succeeding generations would enjoy the benefits of structured development in an environment that is conducive to realizing their true potential.

If this is generally true of all societies, then it should follow that every effort would be made to work individually and collectively toward the achievement of common goals. The reality however is that human beings have become corrupted by power, material wealth, and the quest for dominance. The systems of governance, socio-economics, justice and the rule of law, and security have been manipulated to serve the interests of whoever exercises dominance. Those who exercise such power and authority, utilize the tools at their disposal to entrench themselves and to surround themselves by self-centred allies who exploit the vulnerabilities of those over whom such power is exercised. The examples of the Arab States that are in ferment, provide us with a frame of reference of societies at a distance and sometimes it is easier for us to comment critically on others rather than to examine ourselves and see what are the systemic issues in our own society that need to be identified and analysed and action taken to correct any aberrations before they become cancerous, eating away at the fabric of our multi- ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society.

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