Sunday, April 14, 2024

EVERYTHING BUT . . . : Friend at court


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Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13
FOR A MOMENT last week, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart forgot his Government’s own mantra that Barbados is more than an economy; it is a society.
That the Stuart administration’s emphasis has been on social engineering and societal care presupposes that its deeds are foremost in the people’s interest and particularly for the better of the vulnerable.
Well, there are plenty vulnerable folks in the CLICO debacle. And Mr Stuart has to make up his mind whether or not the dissenting voice on behalf of CLICO victims should still be punished with laughter . . . .
We know for sure that his avowed friendship with Leroy Parris is no laughing matter. In fact, most of us were shocked that the Prime Minister saw it prudent and necessary to put his comradeship in Hansard.
Truth be told, like Mr Stuart, I wouldn’t treat Mr Parris as any leper. I admire the man’s success, and I loathe those who begrudge him for his wealth for which he has worked hard.
I do cringe when he pontificates in public; for his language skills are no match for his capacity to accumulate wealth. But then his mismatch of words is not much worse than some other high-profile politicians, who had higher learning in an institution revered across the West Indies.
What I do not admire of Mr Parris is his going after his pound of flesh. Yes, he has taken legal course to get moneys he believes to be rightfully his. In the normal course of things, I would say sue to your heart’s content. But these are not ordinary times and for lesser mortals the circumstances are raggedly uncomfortable.
People are hurting because of Mr Parris’ CLICO, the company he headed for years. These folks cannot yet get their money back, and Mr Parris has offered them little hope by making it a priority of seeking his due – via the court.
Mr Stuart says this shows Mr Parris understands the law. Really, it is Mr Parris’ lawyer who does. Mr Michael Yearwood’s savvy is not to be underestimated by any means, and I choke at debating the law with the brother. But we can argue over sensitivity.
How can a director of a company sue himself for money of which the said company is asking others owed to hold strain? And how does a company in financial trouble get to pay million-dollar bonuses?
This is not whipping up frenzy. The CLICO policyholders are already frazzled by their unanswered entreaties. But they may have acknowledged a token of relief in Mr Stuart’s declaration that the Government will guarantee getting back their principal.
But what of the principle? Remember? Barbados is more than an economy; it is a society.
 The Prime Minister, as a rule, thinks (even if sometimes a little too long) before he talks – a habit some of his colleagues might do well to pick up. But last week he stumbled – no matter how elegantly.
A Prime Minister – in a society – cannot offend thousands upon thousands in his national constituency for the sake of one man, save he is Jesus. Policyholders cannot be expected to embrace this rash attempt to spin the indefensible with Mr Parris. It is a position Mr Stuart must reverse post-haste.
While Mr Parris has every legal right to seek to protect his personal interests, he as well has a responsibility – even more so now that he is a CLICO director again – at the very least to seem to care about his beleaguered CLICO clients.
No wonder the barrage of criticism against the Prime Minister and Mr Parris on this matter. Surely Mr Stuart cannot allow himself to be subsumed in circumstances Yeats once described as things fall[ing] apart; the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed on the world?
How much then is Mr Stuart prepared to lay down his life for his friend? His political life??


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