“What a day that will be in Jamaican politics when politicians associated with a scandal will rise and say “I relinquish the office!””
“Jamaica’s electorate needs to progress to a point of strong reciprocity, where a politician with the slightest whiff of scandal will have 30 seconds to say, “I relinquish.”
“British voters have been screaming for blood ever since the “expense scandal” emerged”
From commentary by Cedric Wilson, Sunday Gleaner May 24
Wilson hit the nail on the head. It is the Jamaican electorate that permits its elected officials to rob the nation blind. The society has been built on a base of admiration for those who can elude and challenge the law, for decades quietly championing those who seeded their enterprises through criminal activity.
Many of our revered businessmen are known to have been involved in drugs and other shady activities prior to legitimizing their businesses, yet, conscious of this fact, the public sees them placed on pedestals and honored. Same goes for our decorated politicians. We whisper about their shenanigans, and when they are recognized as pillars of the society, we only become more jaded about adherence to the rule of law, and see those who go by the book as “wimps”.
The dons in the society have risen to prominence because of their lifestyles living above the law, having stepped into the breach left by the duly elected representatives to take care of their own fiefdoms — some of these “dons’ in their early twenties!
A very simple example of how the public is taught is how the whole episode of Usain Bolt’s accident was treated. It seems insignificant, but another very powerful message was sent to the public. There was not thorough investigation of the details surrounding the accident to determine whether he was breaking the law by speeding. We were so eager to exonerate him because of his hero status, not realizing that his lesson was that as crown prince he could get away with any misdemeanour, and this inaction has reinforced the public’s notion that the law has no teeth, except for the little man, who it devours with relish. What charges would Bolt have answered if there were casualties resulting from his apparent joyride? Place that next to the fifteen year old youth from Portmore who allegedly took his father’s vehicle without permission and ended up causing triple casualties.
Our officials complain incessantly about lack of discipline in the society, failing to realize that it is enforcing the law that reinforces discipline. Usain Bolt’s achievements have placed him on that enviable list of “untouchables” in the land: those granted special privileges because of status. Well, why not? That’s what’s called “runnings”. And our leaders have seen to it that runnings is perpetuated.
We have been doing this for years, being led by one-eyed myopic officials in a nation of blind people. And as usual, we wait until circumstances rise to dire proportions before we feign surprise and whirl like dervishes trying to find the way out of the dilemma. Many have petitioned the present administration to seek to engage the idle, illiterate, testosterone-driven youth to dissuade them from a career of gunslinging, but their lumbering ineptitude has been evidenced by a resounding silence. We will witness some measure of activity from the government only if a sustained fusillade is directed at the upper reaches of society, or God forbid, at our sequestered visitors in tourist enclaves.
Those who are opinion makers have stopped asking the hard questions and have ceased working in the interest of the people and the development of the nation. I don’t hear a soul asking what became of the US Postmaster General’s cheque for $100,000 that disappeared but was encashed (2002-3), nor have I heard a single query about the fate of those BMW motorcars that were imported to transport the World Cup Cricket officials. Nobody really cares.
From his roost in Florida, a colleague of mine called the office of the US Postmaster General to obtain a copy of both sides of the cheque, since such information is public knowledge here, but not being in Jamaica has handicapped his efforts to get to the bottom of this. Can anyone in Jamaica summon enough courage to quietly do what American journalists Woodward and Bernstein did to expose wrongdoing in their day: Investigations?
The British public screaming for blood — and seeing results, is a signal that democracy is alive and well in the UK. Their officials are actually forced to resign. On the contrary, the Jamaican apathy with criminal activity also makes a statement, albeit one that signals that a rot has taken hold of the entire society. Politicians resigning? I don’t think so. They would have be be removed kicking, clawing and biting, or in straitjackets. When elected officials who have presided over systematic destruction of the fabric of the society can remain on the sidelines gloating and even demanding apologies when their so-called reputations are tainted, muting the media and reducing the electorate to whispering out of fear, is palpable evidence that the tipping point is past, and that fresh new leadership from young patriots untainted by the current blight is the only hope for Jamaica.
The tragedy is that the only blood Jamaicans currently scream for is that of the ignorant poor and dispossessed.