Friday, April 19, 2024

Sinckling sand and such


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Chris Sinckler did not create today’s Barbados. But he is trying to make sure that he puts his stamp on it.
And as the people play and laugh and high-five and answer a hearty yes to today’s seemingly obligatory question, “All is well?” and query the postponement of Rihanna’s concert and focus their outrage on last SATURDAY SUN’s graphic back page, Sinckler is already leaving a mark that we should not be proud of.
Here I am not talking economic matters. Others more qualified than I am have made and will make their judgements in those areas.
As important as those areas are, I am not one to believe that the centre of civilized life is located in the economic sphere.
Today’s blindered fixation on economics has, I believe, given rise to the dubious view that a higher rate of crime is a natural consequence of hard times and/or poverty.
We might as well admit that heavy doses of greed, covetousness, consumerism and materialism, weaker families, a generally lower moral tenor, less effort at “cutting and contriving”, and less faith are also critical elements in the mix. There is no natural causation between economic hardship and crime.
All the same, some people are probably thinking that if crime is on the increase in Barbados, Chris Sinckler is the cause of that.
For sure, he is the man of the moment – for a number of reasons beyond economics too. The “strip naked and run down Broad Street” statement is one of them.
Interestingly, many people responded to the statement as if it was a gender issue. It was an issue of a lack of decorum and lack of statesmanship. It was an issue of bringing the lofty calling of parliamentarian and Cabinet member into disrepute. And we have to stop bringing sectional thinking to bear on these matters.
Responding to concerns about the pursuit of the people’s business in this rah-rah way does not become anyone in public office.
Then there was Sinckler’s response to the public petition against him.
Notwithstanding the Barbados Labour Party’s error in dressing the thing up in party clothes – all of those red shirts and I, a supporter of no party, am going to feel comfortable going into their “territory” to sign something? – I still can’t get over Sinckler’s reaction to the petition: something ’bout “I don’t care about petitions . . . only the Prime Minister can appoint, unappoint or disappoint”.
Listen: even if we don’t think that he should be kept as far away from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs as possible, we should take the severest umbrage at his arrogant thumbing of his nose at us, the people.
His response, along with the fact that he is still a minister after being so dismissive of the people’s stake in their governance, tells a sorry tale about the state of our democracy.
And as if that was not reprehensible enough, Sinckler’s colleagues jump in de ling too: in the “debate” on the no-confidence motion against him, not one of the members on his side of the floor spoke on his behalf, only to turn ’round and vote en bloc for him when the division was called for.
We have a saying in Barbados when a set of people work together to execute the horrible, the disgusting, the despicable: “Not one o’ dem could tell the other come back”.
Is that what we saw played out on the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) side in Parliament last Tuesday? Well, let me say this: there are few things in all the world as pathetic (and as frightening) as leaders of a country joining together to behave in a way that makes you say, “Not one o’ dem could tell the other come back”.
Or, as bad as that
is, was it a cynical callousness about the people?
For sure, to fail to either repudiate your party mate or say a word in support of him was not only extreme dereliction of duty; it was a diminishing of the democratic ideal of representing the people with a steely eye on accountability (yours and others in governance).
Without individual politicians whose minds are independently fixed on such accountability; and without traditions that hold them to doing the “decent” thing; and without checks and balances to prevent flying in the face of the people; and without forthright leadership that will brook no insult to the people’s stake and lay the offender low, what are we left with?
We in Barbados are left with the responsibility of speaking out against the arrogant rashness, of fostering profound outrage against it, and one day, one day, rising up peacefully against it. And “disappointing” somebody or somebodies.
Chris Sinckler and his DLP colleagues in the last week or so disrespected us. Democracy here should not take these body blows.
• Sherwyn Walters is a writer who became a teacher, a song analyst, a broadcaster and an editor.


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