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Evasion of truths

When will the nightmare end?
Published: 
Sunday, February 1, 2015

In any society, if private motivations sacrifice public interests and if sleight of hand corrodes the moral fibre of institutions of justice, then the pillars that hold up stable democracies will crumble. There will be chaos. It is as if we are haunted—haunted by an evil phantom in the halls of institutions of the people. 

For nearly five years, the Government’s J’Ouvert band didn’t stop distracting it from the business of steering the ship of state to its destination. We don’t know where that is, but know we want it anchored in safe moorings. 

We are a tolerant, sensitive, and politically tribal people, who have often sidestepped objectivity. We tend to overlook serious errors of judgement by those in positions of trust, or just dismiss their failings depending on tribal affiliation. So, the brand name for corrupt behaviour became “misstep,” and we remained in denial that the pains we’re experiencing are not growing pains, but symptoms of trickery, mismanagement, incompetence and poor judgement. 

But, civil society is beginning to take responsibility for the abusive performance of public officials. We are progressing not because of what any government has done, but because of what governments have failed to do, which has spurred fed-up citizens to take the lead. In taking responsibility, they’re not prepared to accept evasion of truths. 

The history of this country is not one where citizens have ever felt afraid to speak out and protest, to the credit of successive governments. The political ole talk about citizens only now feeling free to ventilate is nonsense. They licked up Williams, insulted Chambers, blamed Robinson for the attempted coup, and beat-up Manning like a bobolee. 

Since it came to office, citizens have signalled to the Government their perceptions of prevailing threats to the integrity of public institutions. Their voices were unheeded and dismissed with the clichés: “He did nothing illegal.” “There’s no evidence to take action.” “It’s opposition politics.” “They want to bring down the Government”…until the media dug up facts, and the public demanded action. 

Citizens have continuously condemned unprofessional behaviour of Cabinet ministers, yet the conductor played on until everything hit the fan. It started with the breach of Parliament’s Ethical Code of Conduct back in 2010. Then a forged resume to compromise a national security position, unsatisfactory explanations for the state of emergency, and more fraudulent resumes by incompetent board members of public companies.

Like a thief in the night, came the proclamation of Section 34—a clause that guaranteed the non-prosecution of alleged fraudsters who were also campaign financiers. It was a slick sleight of hand leaving well-intentioned and trusting lawmakers compromised. 

Ultimately, they were responsible for that law. 

The six million dollars to hoist up a fallen fire truck was symptomatic of systemic corruption. Abusing systems to purchase a Range Rover, an unresolved emailgate probe, an illegal flying squad, prisongate, the trauma of a Solicitor General, and forging of a press release are all unhealed scars. Over $600 million wasted in the LifeSport scandal. And in between all of these events, were a series of other crooked steps and allegations of widespread corruption. In time, the increasing cost of the Pt Fortin Highway will be revealed. 

Still, the conductor continued to play while the Government choir sang songs about the corruption under the last regime. In other words, why shouldn’t we thief too. These scenarios go beyond the pale of mere allegations.

Now playing in the public theatre is alleged tampering of a witness by one of the most senior government officials. Not to be outdone, the opera became frenzied as the integrity of Parliament was again drawn into the orchestra pit. When will the nightmare end? As a matter of priority, citizens want conscientiousness in protecting the integrity of public offices. 

They want spontaneity by officials in adhering to the principle of stepping aside during investigations into serious allegations in order to preserve the integrity of public institutions and public confidence. It’s one way to pre-empt wrongdoing and allow investigations to proceed unfettered.

It is the conductor who is ultimately responsible for performance of the discordant orchestra. As said, this is a politically sensitive society who would easily believe that pre-emptive action is not taken when necessary to preserve public confidence, but rather, only when it is politically expedient.

Granted, the conductor has walked a step further than her predecessors. She has dismissed several of her ministers—perhaps, too many to feel comfortable about judgement in the first place. That aside, the fact is she eventually took action.

The country deserves a government that will explore complex issues and make wise decisions; that acts in the public’s interest and builds public confidence. There’s a void in critically thinking through problems and the logical consequences flowing from decisions. It is as though the phantom turns off the lights leaving the orchestra in darkness. There’s light with the awakening of civil society, and opportunities to bring about change.

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