Vienney Atpatun

Vienney Atpatun

Since the question of amending the national Constitution came to the debate table, many leaders, politicians, lawyers, experts, and even individuals, have shared and expressed their views to the public of Vanuatu on whether or not it is necessary to make changes to the national constitution.

On Constitution Day last Friday, national and other leaders as well as the general members of the public gathered at the Constitution Building to hear a speech delivered by the Head of State, President Obed Moses Tallis.

Also present was a former assistant curator and field officer of the national museum, Vienny Atpatun of Vao Island, North Malekula.

He shared his views with the Daily Post on the issue of the national constitution and the propose changes.

“The important factor to bear in mind is, once you start to change or amend one part or some sections or provisions of the constitution, eventually, some part of the constitution will begin to fall apart.

“It could lead to other further changes until one day, Vanuatu may find that the very essence or the spirit of the national constitution disappears altogether,” a concerned Atpatun expressed to the Daily Post.

Asked what the option should be instead of amending the constitution, the former assistant curator and Ni-Vanuatu archeologist, said the government, the politicians and all national leaders and even the population of Vanuatu should carefully consider the issue of changes, before tampering with the actual changes to the national constitution of Vanuatu.

“It should be borne in mind that the Constitution was drafted, consulted on by all political, church, women, chiefs and other important leaders of that time and the lawyers and experts on the constitution.

“It did not come cheap, it came with respect and fear for God, Custom and Cultures and careful considerations of how Vanuatu will remain a strong nation in into the future.

“It’s the pillar of the nation, therefore should not be meddled with,” says Atpatun.

He had a second thought about the idea of making changes to or amending the national constitution: “The politicians should amend themselves by changing their political behaviors, their perceptions on politics, and change their political mentality, rather than Vanuatu watching its national constitution become shreds,” Atpatun cautioned.

In 1986, Atpatun, travelled to the United States in his capacity then as the assistant curator and field worker of the Vanuatu National Cultural Center.

In the US, Atpatun visited Museums, Archives in Washington DC, Albuquerque in New Mexico, Chicago, Martin Johnson Museum and had the opportunity to witness the celebration of the Statue of Liberty’s 100 years celebration in New York. In Washington DC, he had the opportunity of viewing the American Constitution.

He is convinced the national Constitution should not be amended.

“Perhaps 50 years from now the country could take this road of reviewing and possibly make some changes or amendment to the national constitution, but as for now, politicians should reform themselves,” he concluded.

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