Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lowering the required “threshold”-- making chance for changes to the FSM Constitution

FSMIS (August 30, 2013): President Manny Mori has sought the concurrence of the FSM Congress in lowering the Constitutional requirement that 75 percent of votes cast on an amendment must be achieved in three of the four States in the FSM in order for the amendment to become part of the FSM Constitution.
In an August 28 letter to Speaker Dohsis Halbert, President Mori called for the lowering of the “threshold” requirement from 75 percent to 60 percent stating that the current requirement “is very challenging” and is “next to impossible”.

“While I do not brush aside the rationale behind the entrenchment of constitutional provisions by making them hard to change, there are times when constitutional changes are imperative and unavoidable because of changing social conditions and economic realities.”

President Mori alluded to a specific example of a proposed amendment that failed to muster the required margins on more than one occasion and was not accepted even though a significant majority of voters were in favor.

“For example, dual citizenship has been proposed on numerous occasions in response to changing demographics and as a result of growing number of FSM citizens residing abroad who are at the same time supporting their families back home”, the President pointed out.

President Mori looked at the political-historical context that gave birth to what he spoke of as a “compromised constitution” that was crafted under very different conditions for the Micronesia of Trust Territory days.

The constitution was designed “to provide authority for independence and self-governance”, among other goals and principles, to a near-splitting formation of entities, each with its own perceived economic opportunities and political aspirations.  Only Micronesia was left to ratify the constitution that heralded the charting of the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979 as a new self-governing nation.

 “Thirty-four years of governance under a compromised constitution gave us enough experiences and lessons”, President Mori said. He concluded that these lessons and experiences have “made us realize that we could do more good things as a nation without the unnecessary restrictions” that hampered new aspirations under present-day challenges and realities.

The proposed bill to enact the lowering of the threshold requirement also contains a provision that calls for the proposal to be submitted to voters in the FSM 2015 general election. Therefore, if Congress passed the bill and it eventually became a law, then the FSM voters will decide the fate of the proposal in March, 2015. Should the threshold remain at 75%, or adjusted downward to 60%?  

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