Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pause and reflect, please


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Some of the events of last week the UNC elections; two ministers apologising for their abuse of the Government credit cards; the Attorney General's five-member A-team being paid $29 million; Jack Warner's despondent plea for re-election; allegations that the Prime Minister's residence is now "family-owned" all caused me to pause and reflect on their impact, and the lingering effects they have on our lives.

My thoughts drifted first to the concept of the Demonstration Effect the little things we internalise from observing decision-makers, and how they unconsciously modify our value system.

In other words, how the examples leaders set can affect the collective behaviour of the society.

There are various views on this catalyst. In economics, researchers conclude that the Demonstration Effect was responsible for the spread of the Asian financial crisis in the 90s.

In the tourism industry, they cite the phenomenon in some societies in which local residents have absorbed the mannerisms of visiting tourists.

American political science added the Domino Effect, arguing that events in one country can trigger a chain reaction, such as the Arab Spring, in others.

More interesting is the Butterfly Effect, considered in Chaos Theory as the consequence of a small change in one place being demonstrated at a later stage in more significant changes.

This is what our parents understood when they warned that our actions today would have consequences for generations to come.

To me, the saddest aspect of the week was Jack Warner's projection on the public stage of his self-alienation. In his series of party meetings, there was the wounded cry of Warner, the tragic hero, pining publicly, seeming to say, "I belong in this party. After all I have done for you all...please love me."

Despite Warner's claims to humility, his ambitions are visibly of Caesar-sized proportions. And like Caesar this could be his "grievous fault".

While on the campaign trail, the Prime Minister again chipped away at his ministerial responsibility. So what seems clear is that even as a winner in his party election, Jack still loses; as a loser, in the fray, his fate is a double dose of humiliation.

Warner was the target of all-points snipes in an acrimonious election campaign, which ultimately revealed that the coalition formed to defeat the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister has since unravelled.

The effects? The country needs to maintain its reference points because these events continue to reveal our decision-makers as callow persons.

We saw it demonstrated in the "poaching" of Mayor Marlene Coudray, and also the inappropriateness and poor manners the Mayor displayed in her response.

That unpreparedness was shown further in the Prime Minister's misunderstanding that the taxes from the recent oil and gas find at Galeota by Bayfield Energy Holdings will be readily available to fund her soon-to-be-launched National Road Rehabilitation Programme.

The effects may be felt as we witness the coming battle between the Ministers of Works and Local Government for ownership of the Programme.

It may be there also in the various reports from members of the public who claimed to have "sighted" the misuse by members of the Prime Minister's extended family of her official security detail and car fleet.

In spite of the limp response from the Minister of Information, and the later cries of "shame" on the Opposition from the choleric Justice Minister, these reports need be examined by the Auditor General.

So, too, the decision of the Attorney General's Department to spent $29 million in fees on four lawyers and a forensic accountant from the month after the People's Partnership Government assumed office to January 31 this year should not go without explanation.

These fees were to investigate the operations of a number of State agencies under the last government, and for that the forensic accountant was paid $18,290,492.48.

Meanwhile citizens demonstrated and protested for improved roads in some eight communities which include those along the Naparima/Mayaro Road; Moruga Road; Torrib/Tabaquite; Four Roads, Tamana; Corosal, Mayo and Malick, Barataria.

Someone in the People's Partnership Government needs to pause, and reflect, just as I did, on what are the Demonstration Effects of its overall decisions. Ask, "what messages are we telegraphing to the nation?"

"Is it really proper to continue to place individual and partisan agendas above national interest?"

As they reflect, they should come to the realisation that our political system is based upon a moral code which recognises rival views and insists on fair decision-making in the national interest. Many voices now say the People's Partnership Government's creed, as demonstrated, is too inflexible to change.

After the UNC election, I would suggest that the Prime Minister show that she, too, is capable of pausing and reflecting. Indicate that she understands the effects of her Government's decisions. Demonstrate a shift from revelling in the "bling of office" to focusing on genuine attempts at transforming leadership.

* Keith Subero, a former Express news

editor, has since followed a career in

communication and management.