Their effort is historic, because in it we’re seeing an Opposition doing what the Government should have done long ago.
After all, it’s primary responsibility of government to ensure that laws are in place to protect the general public from unscrupulous and corrupt behavior of elected persons and others in the public service who are in positions of significant power and influence.
Further, the guys in Government know that while man is innately good, he is also innately bad; and they must know that it’s their duty to ensure that checks and balances are in place to deter themselves and other major decision-makers from misdeeds, and to punish those who commit such misdeeds.
When that doesn’t happen, something is very, very wrong at the top. And it leads to a breakdown of trust, respect, morale, efficiency and order in the public service and in society as a whole.
In the case of St. Kitts & Nevis, it’s obvious to me, fifteen years after a first reading in Parliament with still no law in place, that Denzil and his hangers-on do not want Integrity in Public Life law.
And, for me, the reason for their deep fear of such a law is equally obvious. It’s for you to draw your own conclusions. And in doing so, please don’t be fooled by Denzil’s Anancy stories, his distractions and his excuses on the issue.
Instead, focus on the fact that the whole power dynamic of Denzil and his cabal spins around one man, Denzil, and his staying in control.
Such an arrangement is bad for governance, bad for integrity, bad for democracy, bad for the economy, and bad for the nation.
And that’s why the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria have risen up in recent times.
In St. Kitts & Nevis, where the motto is ‘Country Above Self’, we’re not even seeing ‘Party Above Country’. Instead, we’re seeing ‘One Man Above Party’ and ‘One Man Above Country’.
There was a time during the heyday of the Roman Empire when soldiers, as they were being inspected by their superiors, would beat their armour breastplates over their hearts with their right fists and shout the Latin word “integritas”, which means entirety, wholeness, or completeness.
By that act, the soldiers of Rome signalled their entire, whole, complete and selfless loyalty, accountability and commitment to the cause of the people of Rome.
(You all saw what happened in the conflict between Mubarak, the Dictator, and the people of Egypt. The Egyptian Army did a similar thing collectively thing by demonstrating its loyalty, accountability and commitment to the just and righteous cause of the people, not to the multibillionaire Dictator Mubarak).
Now, back to ancient Rome. There were soldiers who made up the Imperial Bodyguard. These were specially selected, all politically correct, individuals. They were the Emperor’s boys .Part of his cabal. He took special care of them.
Under inspection, they didn’t beat their chests and shout “integritas”. Instead, they beat their chests and shouted, “Hail, Caesar”, indicating that their loyalty, accountability and commitment were not to the people, but to one man: the Emperor.
The Emperor used his power, and he used taxpayers ’money, to take care of, and to protect, himself and his cabal, which included his Imperial Bodyguard. And in this love-fest between him and them, there was no room for the rights and interests of the taxpayers of Rome.
In St. Kitts & Nevis, the members of Denzil’s cabal beat their chests and shout “Hail, Denzil!”.
This ill-advised repetition of bad history, this distortion of priorities, whereby one man becomes the cause, only diminishes, disrespects and corrupts a society; and if unstopped, it eventually destroys a society.
Predictably, the Imperial Bodyguard of ancient Rome lost its edge and its morale. And it became lazy, sloppy and careless. That carried over to the rest of the Roman Army.And it contributed significantly to the eventual collapse of the Roman Empire, but not before much pain and anguish, bloodshed and death were experienced by ordinary folks and others.
People of St. Kitts & Nevis, ‘do the math’.
So the Opposition’s effort to bring the Integrity in Public Life bill to Parliament is a great move on behalf of the people of our Federation.
Of course, Denzil and his cabal will do all that they can to frustrate it .In fact, they’ve already started. But the Opposition must not retreat.
Meanwhile, we, the people, must ensure that the issue is discussed in our 5th Forms and tertiary institutions, in the media, on the streets, in our homes and in our places of work.
As we discuss it, we will come to understand how wrong and out of order Denzil’s position on this issue is. His position is this:
“With regard to payment of Government taxes and charges, you all have to account to me. But although I am elected to office by you, although I am your top servant, I will not account to you. It’s not on my agenda to do so. Take it or leave it!”
So his position is diametrically opposed to your interests, which means that he has to go.
That is, unless you are willing to yield up your dignity and integrity as a people, and your right to choose and reject a leader. And unless, you are willing to give him continuing licence to arrogantly and callously disregard and disrespect you and treat the Government as his personal business.
Now, remember, he’s not going to go on his own steam. However, I am confident that he’s not very far from cracking. And relentless pressure by you will finish the job.
In fact, some around him are already weighing their options. Some of them are already as anxious as rates scampering to jump off a sinking ship.
So you must act. And you must act now. You can’t leave it to five persons sitting on the Opposition benches of Parliament to send Denzil home. You have to take charge of the process, and let Denzil know that this is the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
A man who refuses to pass Integrity in Public Life law is totally disqualified from being your leader. He has to go. And a man who doesn’t want to face up to the necessary scrutiny of public life mustn’t be in public life. It’s that simple. He has to go.
And the Labour Party, if there is any backbone left in it, must take a stand at its Conference next month, because as much as Denzil has disrespected the nation, he has equally disrespected, emasculated and marginalized the Labour Party, and the Labour Union. So it’s time for these two organizations to retrieve their dignity and to recommit themselves to their mission. They need to put the jumbies of Sebastian, Manchester, Nathan, Solomon, Challenger, Halbert, Seaton, France, Southwell, Bradshaw and other fallen stalwarts back to rest.
This is history being made, and the people of St. Kitts & Nevis must seize the opportunity to ensure that they come out on the right side of it.
In 2003, the Ecumenical Council of New South Wales in Australia issued a very powerful public statement. It said that:
1.There is no justification for politicians to lie to the people;
2.Freedom is intimately concerned with truth and justice;
3.The people have the right to expect and demand a high level of moral and ethical integrity from their public officials; and
4. Evasion of truth is detrimental to the good of a nation.
I’m urging the clergy and the followers of religious faith to take a stand on this seminal issue, and to do so now. Preach it on the pulpits from Dieppe Bay to Gingerland. But don’t just talk the talk; also walk the walk, both shepherds and flock.
I’m urging radio stations to call for it and to play protest music to get the message out that Integrity in Public Life law must be passed without further delay.
Likewise, newspaper editors, and the owners and managers of SKNVIBES, Miyvue and other Internet sites need to take a stand.
I also call on DJ’s, calypsonians, Reggae, Dance Hall, Hip Hop, poets, story-tellers and other performers to put out material demanding Integrity in Public Life legislation. Do a song together, Artistes!
Bus and taxi operators, please play protest music in your vehicles. Likewise for the business people at the Ferry Terminal and the shops around the Federation.
And ditto for the folks in Nevis. This is your fight too.
You all must not be afraid to take to the streets to demonstrate your total disgust with this flippant, dismissive, disrespectful and totally unacceptable attitude to which you’re being subjected.
Integrity in Public Life law must be passed. And without further delay!
I am urging to the front of the protest line the Unions, Government workers whose increments have been stopped( while some others who are favoured are still getting theirs),laid off Government workers, laid off workers generally, the Electricity Department workers( some of whom will be sent home soon), workers who have grievances and can’t get them resolved, unemployed people who are desperate for work, and people generally who are getting their backs broken by bills that they can’t pay and which they think are too burdensome and unfair.
I am calling on business people to demand the passage of this law. Time for you all to play hardball with Denzil.
Build up the pressure.
As part of the build up, remember to attend Operation Rescue’s public meeting at CEMACO Parking Lot, Pond Pasture, this Wednesday, 27th April, 2011, from 8 pm. We expect to have a lady speaker on the platform, and to be live on WINN FM.
Contributions are welcome.