President of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke is calling for the immediate resignation of Integrity Commission chairman Ken Gordon over a television advertisement he says portrays public servants as lazy.
Duke, who led a protest yesterday in front of the Integrity Commission’s office, located at the Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) building, Independence Square, Port of Spain, told the Express he saw the offending Integrity Commission advertisement on Monday night while looking at local television.
“The advertisement portrayed two persons, one coming out of a Government office and the other questioning whether he got through. The person exiting the building responded, saying no, that it would take a year and more before he got through.
“The other person suggested that he should pay money in order to speed up the process, to which the other one said he was not going to pay any money, and the conversation went on where the second person told the first one that he never lines up but pays money to get through quickly, the other one responded, saying you must not pay civil servants to do their work, they are too lazy.
“That, to me, is maligning these persons’ characters falsely, and they are doing it in general because civil servants don’t have a face; their face is that of mine and those who do the work in the Civil Service, so we take serious umbrage to that.
“So we went this morning to tell Ken Gordon to apologise, to tell Ken Gordon to retract and to remove that advertisement completely from the television. It has no place there and, finally, to tell him he must resign. If he doesn’t know about it, he still has to be held accountable.
“He has gotten too old for the job; let him resign and resign now or else there will be a level of public disturbance that he is not ready for and this country is not ready for; trust me,” Duke warned.
Duke added the commission’s registrar (Martin Farrell) came out and spoke with them and gave the guarantee the advertisement will be removed and he would communicate with what is left of the commission and get back to him.
“We are expecting an apology; he has not yet got back to me, and if there is no apology, we will return again tomorrow in greater numbers to let them know don’t disrespect public officers.
“Now is an all-time low for public servants, and we don’t want beat down from nobody. People are leaving their beds 4 a.m. to come to work for 7 a.m., talk about that, show that. People holding back their lunch to serve the customers, show that,” he added.
When contacted yesterday, Gordon, who declined comment, said: “I have been advised by the registrar that he has issued a statement; I take it you have received the statement; I have nothing to add to the statement”.
What the TV ad says
The video transcript below depicts two young men explaining the challenges of obtaining prompt service at an office. One character, on exiting an office, explains he could not obtain prompt service, but his “application is on file and under review”:
A car is parked on the side of the road outside an office. A man sits in the driver’s seat, listening to the radio. A second man exits the building and enters the passenger seat. He seems exasperated.
Man 1: You get through?
Man 2: Get through with what? Man, it takes a year and a day for anything to happen in these places. At least the application on file and under review.
Man 1: Boss, I done tell you already; it have a fella you could pay a little something on the side and matters fix. You will get through, quick, quick.
Man 2: Yeah, right.
Man 1: Serious. You see me standing up in any line in a Government office? Pass a money, boy.
Man 2: Well, no wonder my thing taking so long. People like you making it hard for the system to work.
Man 1: What system you talking about?
Man 2: The system, the way it’s supposed to work if we doing what we supposed to do.
Man 1: You gonna start preaching again?
Man 2: Listen to me, nah,w man. We pay taxes to the Government, the Government pays the public servants and they serve us, the people.
Man 1: You eh see how how slow all them public servants does work?
Man 2: Don’t come with that, and in any case, why would I want to work hard when the people to the left and right of me getting more money than me under the counter?
Man 1: Money talks, boy!
Man 2: You talking bribery—and bribery corrupts. How you expect things in this country to get better if we feeding the corruption? How we could expect people to do the right thing if we rewarding them for doing the wrong thing?
Man 1: Alright, nah. You don’t have to get on so.
Man 2: Just do the right thing, nah, man.