Has SVG gone to the Dogs?!
While the country is still trying to come to grips with a volcano that we are not sure has burnt itself out and the continuing coronavirus pandemic that has the country still on alert, another matter stole the headlines over the past week.
It was about an incident of April 13 that had been kept covered-up until little over a week ago. The news of the shooting in the leg of Cornelius John of Diamond estate left many of us confused, especially when we were told that a senator of the parliament/deputy speaker and the Assistant Director of Public Prosecution were persons of interest in the matter. A third person, said to be involved, up to the time of writing has not been identified and is interestingly enough, not a person of interest.
Why the secrecy? An article in the NEWS of May 7 by Zhinga Horne-Edwards, captioned “As a Lawyer I cannot remain silent” seemed to have pricked the conscience of the nation. Two of the persons of interest were lawyers and to have another lawyer become so enraged, not only about their involvement but by the failure of the police after two weeks, not to have issued a press release, spoke volumes .
Her article seemed to have given the matter the fillip it so desperately needed, and questions began to be asked and concerns expressed. The legal fallout from the incident was one thing but Zhinga went further, “we have entered the slippery slope toward ethical numbness and are now at the stage of being morally disengaged.” The matter became a talking point and many, if not most people, asked that the persons of interest vacate or be removed from their positions until the investigation which we are told was under way, was completed.
Then on Tuesday, 11 May, the matter took another turn when the Leader of the Opposition was thrown out or rather asked to leave the sitting of the House of Parliament for suggesting or demanding that the senator be removed until there was clarity on the matter. This led to a heavy police response, dressed in fatigue and battle gear in the courtyard and in front of the Parliament building, with the gates of the yard being bolted. An overkill if ever there was one! Was there rioting in progress!
The question of being on a slippery slope takes the matter beyond the initial incident and the legal issues involved. Alan K Simpson, an American politician in the 1960s or early ‘70s said that a slippery slope is “only a long staircase where each step downward must first be tolerated by the American people and their leaders.” Let us substitute America for SVG to understand the point. In peoples’ reaction to these developments a few comments struck me. Ashford Peters asked, “How can a society function when all the institutions are contaminated?” To start with the police, what was the reason for a strong police presence? The appearance of the Commissioner of Police begs the question- can we expect any impartial enquiry conducted by the police? Ashford further condemns the silence of many who are still able to discern right from wrong. We have, he said “lost ourselves to a sick culture.” Perhaps Lennox Lampkin’s statement that “SVG Gone to the Dogs”, is what it has amounted to.
The protest outside the Parliament building organised by a small group of about five persons who called themselves, I believe, “Raise Hairouna” is a welcome sign. Will we be able to avoid the long staircase? Too often when there are issues in the society people sit back and wait for a signal from the political parties. Kenrik Quashie in a short comment reflected on the days when NGOs took up issues independent of politicians.
Are we at a turning point or have we really gone to the dogs?
Our society needs transparency and accountability and greater involvement of people in the issues affecting the country, particularly at this time when a national response is needed for rehabilitation of areas affected by the Soufriere and to counter the fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic.