Dr. Fraser- Point of View
November 25, 2005

The temperature continues to rise

Two recent stabbings, one at the Grammar School, or rather involving Grammar School boys and another involving two students from the Intermediate High School should not be treated as isolated incidents. They really reflect the direction in which our society is moving and the consequent break down of order and discipline. Of course, no country lacking order and discipline can develop so we had better take warning. This break down can be seen clearly on the political scene. While one appreciates and applauds the almost full involvement of our people we have to exercise some caution because so much seems to be at stake for so many people that they apparently know no bounds. Of concern is the reality of young boys moving around town on trucks with beers in their hands and operating as though there are no holds barred.{{more}}

Nomination day for candidates contesting the December 7 poll was on Monday. We are surely into the home stretch and the atmosphere reflects this. One hears of minor incidents, not alarming at this stage but with the potential for something serious to develop and so we have to be cautious. The focus is undoubtedly on politics, and our politicians and political leaders even while they fight the battle of their lives must recognise their responsibility and the example they set as thousands of persons look up to them. Their example will be extremely powerful in this election season. I said that there is much at stake. This statement should not be taken lightly. Millions of dollars are being spent, coming from where we do not know and obviously the piper would have selected his tune. This is our time, that is, the people’s time, although some of us underestimate the power we have. Why are so many politicians and their close associates descending onto the different constituencies? The answer is obvious for now is the time they take into consideration the power of the people. One has to ask him/herself when was the last time they saw their representative? Was he/she performing the job for which we elected him/her? How many times did our constituency representative come to discuss with us matters of concern? To what extent do we trust such a person? What about the new ones who are coming, what impression have we formed about them?

A vote is not to be treated lightly for we have to live for another five years with whomever our vote helps to put into office. The question of bribes is really an insult to any respectable person for it degrades us and makes us into someone willing to sell our soul. It is a money transaction with no returns. I have often wondered how brazenfaced politicians could be to even suggest to someone that he/she should vote for them in return for money or goodies or promises. For how much longer will this continue? Should we not pay more attention to performance and character? Should we not demand a different kind of relationship between politicians and the people?

I have really never seen the political scene like this before. The increased number of vehicles on the streets and the technology now available have made this place into a mad house. The sound of loudspeakers and loud music at any time of day and even night is dreadful to behold. Really at this time the country takes a holiday because very little work is done. At this time I imagine the merchants must be reeling. In recent years we have been declaring the Christmas season open in early November. Now there is little attention paid to Christmas, even Christmas music is hard to come by. But the political temperature is continuing to rise and will do so even more over the next twelve days. One has to be concerned about the relationships among the people because so much bad blood is being spilt over politics. It is as if we do not have a right to vote and support anyone of our choice. I have heard that I have been labelled the boy from Barrouallie. I wonder what is the operative word, boy or Barrouallie. The truth is that many of us were boys from the country. Moreover I am actually proud to have been born and to have grown up in Barrouallie. Much of who I am really has a lot to do with that fact. But that this becomes a topic of conversation is so stupid that it baffles the mind. My concern with a lot of these things and with our attitude is what happens after elections. How will we relate to each other? How will we work in the interest of the country? Or is it that this doesn’t matter?

I have heard on talk radio and in private conversations about teachers and public servants openly wearing symbols of their party to work. I have heard too about teachers leaving their work and campaigning openly. I was hoping that this was mere rumour but I have heard it so often and sometimes from reliable sources! What has indeed happened to professionalism? Do these people not realise that they are professionals and that they teach children of families of all political persuasions? Do they not realise that they work for a government and not a party? When principals and top public servants openly campaign for a particular party, what confidence would any new government have in them? Interestingly their support is hardly ever based on conviction but rather on capturing the attention of those in power or about to gain power in order to protect what they have or position themselves for the next round, hoping that there is really a next round.

The Economic Plan

Last weekend the ULP launched its manifesto and the NDP its economic plan. I have not as yet had a copy of the manifesto but have been able to get a quick glimpse at the NDP’s economic plan. I must compliment the NDP on coming up with an economic plan that really seems to set out the party’s vision of where it wants to carry this country if it is elected. It is, I believe, the first time that any party has done this. We have been accustomed to manifestoes that by and large outline a party’s programme. In these hard economic times that are expected to get even harder, presenting a vision for the future is important. I will not comment on what that vision is since I have not had the opportunity to look at it in any detail. It should form the basis, however, for a discussion of where we want to go and how we get there. Manifestoes should be guided by this kind of plan for whatever we do should relate to a vision we have of where our society is heading or likely to head. There isn’t a lot of time but it would be useful to have some dialogue on what appears to be a detailed sketch of that vision. In any event after the elections regardless of the results we will do well to have the parties put out their vision and plans for development. As the NDP’s economic plan is suggesting, development is not only economic but holistic, having much to do with good governance, with accountability and with a host of other things.