EDITORIAL: Dr Lowe’s offensive silence
WE FIND the refusal by Dr Denis Lowe, Minister of the Environment, to comment on the current National Conservation Commission’s (NCC)?saga, to be offensive to all citizens of Barbados, and in particular, those public servants who lost their jobs in the past few months.
Following Sunday’s church service to mark World Environment Day, Dr Lowe refused to be drawn into any comments on the “missteps” (to use Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s word) on the NCC dilemma over which he, Dr Lowe, presided.
We do not doubt for one moment that our ministers are under immense pressure as they grapple with the very severe challenges that our population is undergoing as a result of the country’s severe economic plight impacting so many Barbadians.
That pressure, too often, it would appear, makes some ministers act in ways that those who voted for them would wish they hadn’t.
We also don’t believe that our Members of Parliament are so cold and callous that they do not hold some degree of empathy for the thousands of Barbadians who cry out each day for a consoling word.
But nothing of the sort from the dithering doctor.
While empathy does not pay the light or water bill, provide lunch money for children going to school, assist in grocery shopping or extend credit at the gas station when the LPG cylinder can no longer power the stove, it sends a signal of compassion and understanding. Suffering citizens, while appreciating words of kindness, still expect practical responses from those who were chosen to govern us.
The minister, who for each of the four elections he contested, employed a persuasive and passionate preacher-like embracive approach on the platform, is now stubbornly refusing to offer any comments when workers, many dismissed in an unorthodox manner, cry out to him to say something on their behalf.
“I am not prepared to make any comments on matters relating to the NCC at this time because I consider it indecent to be making comments on these matters while the matter is being adjudicated,” he insisted.
What’s really indecent is that since the minister confirmed the commencement of the layoff process involving NCC workers at the beginning of April, there has been an avalanche of protest and criticism to which Dr Lowe has not found it fit to offer even a passing comment. It is as if he is entirely unaware.
Even more offensive is that the minister now seeks to cast his silence in the context of the pending hearing of the Industrial Relations Tribunal (IRT).
But perhaps he does not realise that Barbadians know that the IRT process, which to all intents and purposes has not yet started, has only been in the public arena for just over one week.
If that were all, perhaps we might still have found it possible to dismiss the minister’s comment as poor judgment. But he then, in similar fashion, chose to be as dismissive with the question of beach safety in light to the reduction in lifeguard numbers by the NCC. That too, he saw as connected to the mandate of the tribunal.
No sir, Dr Lowe, you owe the people of Barbados an explanation of all that has impacted so many NCC employees.
Unfortunately Dr Lowe holds no monopoly on this dismissive approach. We loathe it in the name of accountability and all that is just, fair and transparent.