Columns

Is it that hard to resign, Mr Prime Minister?

Chris Burns

Monday, August 30, 2010    

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Mr Prime Minister, if there were nothing improper to hide, protect or to gain from months of obfuscation, why were you so belligerent in defending the so-called "constitutional rights" of Christopher "Dudus" Coke, only to genuflect to pressures from the same Uncle Sam you "traced" earlier? If your intentions were pure, why didn't you or your Cabinet colleagues tell the truth, tell it early and tell it all from the start? Mr Prime Minister, if it was indeed the Jamaica Labour Party, and not the Government of Jamaica which hired Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, why are you and your Cabinet colleagues continuing to respond to questions in your substantive roles as government officials and not as JLP operatives? Why, in your capacity as leader of the JLP, have you not instructed party officials to produce the contract between the JLP and Manatt? Why is the government so unrelenting in its quest for us to "move on" when Manatt continues to say it was working for and on behalf of the government?

Mr Prime Minister, why do you think it will be easy to bamboozle the Jamaican people into accepting mediocrity over excellence and uprightness? Do you take us for idiots? Finally, why is it so hard to resign; hath you no sense of shame? Sir, the actions of the Jamaica Labour Party government, under your leadership, particularly over the last fourteen months, have confirmed beyond doubts that which many have known for a while, but refused to accept. It has confirmed that the Jamaican body politic is rife with men and women who pretend to be altruistic, but who have absolutely no awareness of the value of either honouring their moral responsibility or ethical obligation to the people of Jamaica.

By your collective words and deeds, you have confirmed that it is your insatiable appetite for power and glory that is most important at this psychological moment, not quality governance based on trust. Sadly, this confirmation has been brutally exemplified by your collective contempt and utter disrespect for the intelligence of the Jamaican people. And as terrible as these deficiencies are, the situation gets progressively worse with each passing hour because when it comes on to possessing even discernible quotients of moral values or a sense of duty - simple standards that should govern thoughts and actions - you are as morally bankrupt as you are all ethically deprived.

Metaphorically speaking, you have all got away with "blue murder" because too many of us just "can't bother" to stand up for something as fundamental to the proper functioning of our democracy and the rule of law and resolutely demand your immediate resignation. It is as though we have relinquished our responsibility as citizens and have adopted a kind of blind followership from which despots are made. For while I am infuriated by your government's callous behaviour, I am equally annoyed by the near collective "Que Sera, Sera" attitude of some of my fellow citizens because I know it is within our grasp to do better.

It cannot be that we continue to allow indifference to push us to the curb only to watch uselessly as things continue to fall apart. We have to speak out and not allow fear to shove us into the cul-de-sac reserved for wimps. This apathy could not have been more palpable than when the government imposed the largest tax package in the country's history, but of the approximately 2.9 million people living in Jamaica, only one man I recall took to the streets with placards. He demonstrated in front of Gordon House and at the Ministry of Finance. Yet, several motorists who were also forced to pay higher gas tax ridiculed him.

Like some of our leaders, many of us have been bad stewards of our political independence. For, in no decent democracy would Bruce Golding, Dorothy Lightbourne or Douglas Leys be allowed to continue in office - people power would have risen up against them like mad-ants in a bowl of sugar. Instead, we continue to rest on our laurels, tails between our legs, and hands under our "future" while pretending things are hunky-dory. So, we the people cannot divorce ourselves from some of the problems that betide us simply because we do not take our politics seriously and know when enough is enough. We keep providing the same kind of followership, yet expecting different outcomes. It is as though we are confused about the role of government, and do not know when to reject foolishness, such as the intellectual dishonesty that keeps flowing from certain quarters about economic recovery, when the details from the very institutions point to contradictory economic metrics and serious problems with the fundamentals of the economy.

How many of us have taken note of the current $10.2 billion loss at the Bank of Jamaica and the likelihood that taxpayers could be forced to offset it? How many of us know that the current revaluation of the Jamaican dollar, positive though it may be in some instances, is taking place because of lower demand for the greenback and buoyant inflows of loans - loans that are increasing the national debt? We heard the same nonsense, premature and skewed analysis at the end of the State of Emergency from people who ought to have known better, as they painted pictures of Armageddon. How many of us know that, according to police statistics, the average murder rate is now lower than it was during the much-touted State of Emergency? Yet, we allowed special interest and political "jack sprats" to hijack and politicise an issue so central to the preservation of the rule of law and to our constitutional rights.

Sadly, our political leaders know that we do not always examine the issues with detectable diligence much less to scrutinise their actions. They know that we are not au fait with our constitutional rights. They know they have succeeded in making many of us so politically polarised that we cannot speak or act dispassionately, and they know how and when to wind us up and the let us loose like gigs. That is why neither the prime minister, the attorney general nor the solicitor general has resigned. But it is not too late for them to acquire the sense of shame and duty that would impel reasonable men to resign in the interest of Jamaica.

Burnscg@aol.com

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