Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lousy leadership


Mark Fraser

Using last Thursday’s murder toll —seven murders in the first two days of 2014—T&T will have a projected 1,278 murders by year’s end, if my math is correct.

That projection changed slightly by Friday—nine murders in three days— which at the time of writing, means a projected murder rate slightly reduced to 1,095 persons by December 31.

It should be noted that statistical projections are not predictions, but merely assumptions that one can make—if a trend follows a certain pattern.

The experience of such a murder toll in the early days of 2014 was staggering; it seemed to have traumatised everyone I met, or as a psychologist friend explained: “It placed us all in a state of extreme, emotional assault.”

It is no consolation, but T&T is not as bad as Mexico, where 27,100 homicides were recorded in 2011, among its 118.3 million population, this being attributed mainly to the high levels of corruption in the police, judiciary and government.

Neither are we as bad as the US where overall statistics indicate that a violent crime is recorded every 25.3 seconds, with three people killed, and seven shot every hour.

However, New York City, with a population of eight million has become the guiding light, with homicides falling by 20 per cent, causing its police officials to boast that only 333 murders were recorded last year. Compare that figure to the 407 murders in T&T, with our 1.3 million population.

While we are occupied with such savagery, the Prime Minister requests privacy to deal with family matters, and while the acting Prime Minister suggests that his former colleagues in oil may have sabotaged the industry, the globalised world marches on.

Looking at world in 2014, the Economist magazine writes about the redistribution of the Industrial Revolution—complex, global value chains being redistributed by new technologies, labour market shifts and connectivity.

It is part of ten future trends which the magazine says is the new face of globalisation, which means a new wave of global knowledge networks and new businesses and governance models that deliver local value.

It adds that cross-disciplinary, visionary entrepreneurs are driving scientific breakthroughs that could change not just our lives and work worldwide—but our bodies and intelligence.

Income inequality, intolerance and nationalism are growing, it says. Also the “pressure on leaders to deliver results today is intense but so too is the need for fundamental change to succeed in the long term. The contradictions of leadership and life are increasing faster than our ability to reconcile the often polarised perspectives and values each embodies.

“Increasingly, they are driving irrational acts of leadership, geopolitical, social and religious tensions, and individual acts of violence.

“Surviving in this world will demand stronger, responsible leadership comfortable with and capable of embracing ambiguity and uncertainty, as opposed to expecting consistency and predictability”, the Economist writes.

When we look at T&T, we see clearly that our problem is leadership. The performances of our political leaders in 2013 were at best the stuff of tragi-comedy, just ideal for a Raymond Choo Kong Saturday evening theatre.

Let’s look at a few of the sad jokes of 2013:

• The Police Service had an entire year to request that the Customs authorities revoke importers’ fireworks licenses—but chose on December 30 to warn customers against the use of fireworks.

• In the face of our worst oil spill, the Office of Disaster Preparedness Management is occupied with sending relief material to St Lucia, instead of assisting the people affected in La Brea.

• The Cabinet approved $6.3 million to retrieve a crashed fire truck, but is yet to show financial care for fisherfolk affected by the oil spill disaster.

• In the face of T&T’s poor ranking on international indices, and travel advisory notices, the Central Bank Governor launched the T&T National Confidence Index to woo international investors.

• The Appeal Court, confronted with threats from a prisoner, hastily delivers judgments faster than a fast food outlet.

• The Minister of Health who promised radical surgery in the performance of our national health care system, now talks about T&T providing international medical tourism.

• The Deputy Police Commissioner appointed to probe “emailgate” throws his hands in the air, saying “no response” from the international service providers, but on his retirement is appointed immediately to head the Police Response Unit by the minister he was probing.

• Faced with the public outcry against hiring the former finance secretary to a $60,000 a month job, the THA found an avenue to hire him eventually—a short-term $400,000 contract.

• A delay in the statement from the National Accreditation Council on UWI’s new, specialised degree – the EMBA (Charity). The council is expected to give its reasons why one must be called “Honourable’’ to receive that degree.

The year 2014? The most depressing aspect, so far: the first murder victim was a man of the cloth.

• Keith Subero, a former

Express news editor, has since followed a career in

communication and management