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Dr Joan Nwaskie’s article Political Transitions And Torn Loyalties offers a sober reminder of the balancing of loyalties as evidenced in most small island states. I get the sense that because of our socialisation, we are likely to remain a country, as described by former United States President Barack Obama, where everybody is related.
This characteristic tends to support Nwaskie’s assertion that in small island states where government and politics tend to influence every aspect of daily life, it may not be practical for public sector workers to separate their service from their political and social allegiances.
This raises four questions that I believe are worthy of consideration: (1) In the midst of our social, political and religious allegiances will we or are we prepared to call a spade a spade? (2) Will we act responsibly and professionally, no matter our social interconnectivity? (3) Are we prepared to blow the whistle on a friend? (4) Are we prepared to expose the questionable behaviour of a relative?
Unless you walk a very straight line, where it is either right or wrong, it is either black or white, turning a blind eye to the transgressions of a relative or even a friend of a friend may, in some instances, appear to be more favourable.
This is why I believe that effective governance is difficult to achieve in the absence of accountability and compliance.
Society creates rules for good order and function. Yet, many of us may find ourselves bending certain rules or relaxing the requirements for compliance because we also recognise that there are many shades of grey.
It is said that conclusions are usually drawn from circumstances but I have also found that accountability, honour and integrity are constants.
We have many rules and we have many laws in Barbados and it is established that some are in urgent need of upgrade. But if in the midst of our current rules and laws we allow our friends and family to flout those rules and those laws, then the prosperity that we seek on our future horizons will likely remain elusive.
Singapore is not highly rated as a domicile for transparency and the ease of doing business because it has more resources than Barbados. It is highly rated because infractions of the law and bending of rules are not generally tolerated.
Maybe there is a lesson to be learnt and maybe there is benefit in us adopting similar intolerances, whereby those who hold positions of authority are held to account.
I believe that the integrity we seek will come with the next tide once we start enforcing the rules we already have in place.
– SEAN ST CLAIR FIELDS