Archive | Editorial

"Is it history being written"

“Is it history being written”

The Honourable Bertrand Osborne and his Government are to be commended for openly involving other members of the community in the process of finding solutions to keeping the 6000 people still in Montserrat as a viable community.

The Government had invited managers and chairmen of the financial institutions last Wednesday morning to discuss a response and action to the insurance calamity. They were to meet that (June 25) afternoon with members of the Chamber and Private Sector Association for the same purpose, but for the volcano which went berserk on the eastern villages.

On Sunday evening a hastily organised meeting was also called to discuss a position to present to the Baroness upon her arrival to Montserrat for a second visit in two weeks.

Both of these meetings called upon the government to take some strong and tough positions with the British Government and in the case of the insurers a similar stance. But the members of these groups have come away wondering whether this government have the ‘savvy’ to be aggressive.

Sources close to the British entourage on island trying to help us in our cause and protect the British interest at the same time have said: “Montserratians are too nice, instead of saying that things are rough but we are making out, they ought to be making a lot noise for better treatment.”

These people, some of them agree that the red tape is unbearable, but they have a job to do and they have guidelines.

So what do we do? What we need is a massive injection of cash and equipment to:

firstly, PROPERLY give people who need replacement housing, and;

secondly, CREATE an environment that could be sustainable to exist.

We are going to need food and basic necessities, because there are those of us who will no longer be able to buy it.

Our people have already been humbled, never mind that we are unable to put up with the shelters and temporary housing; it is humbling to go overseas and beg shelter and food. That is easier, because our next door neighbour doesn’t see, but it is the same thing, never mind how welcome we are at the beginning.

A year ago when Nicholas Bonsor visited, he stated that they were committed to build the north. Since then we have been hearing that it is up to us. Baroness Chaulker said so; Faint came and said so; the Governor says so all the time and now the Baroness Liz Symons has repeated it over and over.

It is clear that we have no more time now left for pussyfooting, by the Montserrat or British Governments, or else we will all have no jobs, including the ministers and the civil servants.

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Consultation and information are critical for good governance

Consultation and information are critical for good governance

On serious problem that developed from onset of volcanic activity is the total breakdown and loss of ‘civil society’ and the organisations that lead with dependence on the media to front. It has been a most important issue but one that has been almost completely ignored deliberately and also out of ignorance.

It is a matter for government under the leadership of the Governor’s office (Foreign Commonwealth Office, (FCO) and in the British system funded through DFID. This receives very high attention from the UK Government, since according to Priti Patel it is the backbone of the DFID theme to reduce poverty and aid development. Responding to questions on how the civil organisations are functioning and funded, in march this year, she said: “I take the view that we live and breathe the sustainable development goals… At  every  level,  our  focus is  poverty reduction and  delivering  the  global  goals.

The DFID PS Mark Lowcock who resigned recently also had much to say on the issue: Here he notes that there is also general funding regarding ‘civil societies’. “…Across the whole of Government funding of civil society, not just in the development sphere but more generally,…”

Here in Montserrat the question has been asked by, through this medium whether there is any concern at the lack of functioning civil societies organisations to include the near non-existence of say the Chamber of Commerce. The fact that the media which is the thread and as we say the front or the link for civil society, has been ignored into poverty and to an unfortunate few, irrelevance, treated often as they do not exist, is shameful.

This all comes under the general heading of Good Governance. It is critical that it exists. It is why for example efforts are made to encourage the government opposition to raise its ‘game’. At a recent CPA conference, the CPA Chairperson emphasised that, “if the Opposition plays a constructive and responsible role in the democratic process then the accountability of the government can be ensured.” That is why they get special funding and that is why the media public and private must also be well funded.

It is why astute politicians would tell their colleagues, ‘the media can ‘make’ or ‘break’ you’ encouraging them to stay close thereto.

But there is another issue with regards to the whole issue of good governance. This is where it is imperative that when the administration (government) is introducing policy and legislation, economic and otherwise, consultation is a must. So much that in order to benefit from funding for some projects from donor agencies, they must be satisfied that the matter has been discussed through consultation with the public and stakeholders.

The PDM captured this as one of their keys to delivering good governance in their Manifesto recognizing that it was lacking. “Ensure that new legislation, regulations and policies undergo a process of public consultation and transparency, so that the voice of the everyday person is heard.”

For some time, there has been much scarcity of consultation and discussion with the public, even ensuring that they are ‘fully’ informed. Just recently we reported on a workshop where discussions were being held on the formulation of a legal framework for child safeguarding and juvenile justice. Great! But the participants were the involved government agencies and Community Services workers. Where was the rest of society to inform the process and be educated as to their own role, or fate? However, they did say when the matters are completed they will ‘tell or talk’ with the public about it.

About the same time there was a workshop of which we were very familiarly uninformed, but seemed to have been one where only public servants were being taught in the formulation of policy.

We reserve further but say, there is an urgent need for those in authority to get serious about their obligation and responsibility to inform and enable all of civil society and the public which in turn will make more responsible citizens, public and private.

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It seems positive, but is its goal assured?

It seems positive, but is its goal assured?

It is fairly worthy of note that Premier Romeo presented today, a budget that was late in coming, which seemed from first appearance, having kept the substance of it almost as secret as he could, or should we say as is so often the norm, to have been received kindly, at least for now.

Compared with the several negative comments that dominated the delay in the budget presentation, it seemed that knowledge of the long-awaited salary increase for public servants was not much in the air. Is it pleasing to public servants, and will the politicians receive the three percent increase also? And will they all generally be satisfied with the increase beginning from April 1, 2017, rather than say January 2017? Will there be satisfaction and acceptance generally, especially perhaps at the method of the payment scale from three percent at the top in certain scales to 10.4 percent at the lower levels?

It is reasonable to think that the Premier did not go the route of a rollover budget earlier like St. Helena, as with the small increase, which no doubt is reflected in the $2.3 million increase in the support figure. He waited to be sure that he was able to offer the salary increase and knowing exactly the quantum of the capital budget he would receive.

A later comment will speak to whether or not the rest of workers will somehow be able to see an increase in their salaries and wages.

How soon will the capital spend be put into the economy to make that difference? There seemed little to address that other need, at last for the moment, that other than securing some ease for the complaining public servants, that did not spill outward to the private sector workers, some of whom have not seen an increase in their pay packets for over ten years.

Indeed, there are some business owners who have not been able to address a salary for themselves, existing for those who continue to believe it will change sometime.

The debate may bring this out. That if it does will show a side of the Assembly that we feel is seriously lacking, displaying the kind of ignorance unbecoming of what can be minimally expected.

There is the issue of the budget theme, “Moving Montserrat Forward

towards Self-Sustainability and Inclusive Economic Growth.”

 

For now, it is not clear that we are above the ground or are able to see a pinhole of light, as one leg is still behind the other! Stuck, relying, on old thoughts and beliefs, even though the sounds of visions are in the air. There is still so much to be done, beginning with simply changing the attitudes of many and doing the simple things to get the best of thoughts and ideas focused in the right way or the right direction. With all the professional help and skill, little will be the success if the wrong information is fed.

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There needs to be a different relationship or understanding with UK/DFID

There needs to be a different relationship or understanding with UK/DFID

Editorial – May 26, 2017

Somehow Montserrat for the past three years seemed to have gone through the phase where the strong willed still looks to tomorrow because today does not yet offer any real hope of change.

Wake up!

Ah! The dream. What do these things mean – Diplomacy, Critical philosophy – The necessary condition and the sufficient condition?

“The past must not dictate the future, (but must inform it).” Premier Romeo and his entire government may have completely forgotten the past but instead might be off in the future, without a vision. How many volcanic crises have there been? Does or did each event create another crisis?

May 26, 2017

Premier Romeo in announcing the budget settlement with DFID allowing him to prepare for a budget presentation which he says he will have on June 9, 2017 has somehow displayed an understanding that there has been some hurting reaching heights still unknown in recent times.

When he says, “that’s why it hurts when government does not spend money. I want to deliver a positive result to the ordinary man, the struggling single mother so they can feel tangible results in their pockets,” our question is how ready is his government, how soon will those tangible results become reality?

The time is upon his government to explain why the really hurting ones do not know how much longer before tangible results set in and how that $30 million will bring the results about. Of course, not everyone suffered or felt the hurt. Half of the working force continued to receive their wage/salary, claiming hurt because they have not received a raise so long. Never once did they complain that their relative not in the same boat as they are, do live in a leaky ship that has already sunk, or just about to sink.

Premier Romeo would only say that it is imperative that the capital projects which will be named in the Budget speech get off the ground during this fiscal year.

So now there is the economic team – to lead on the economic growth strategy – opening another area of explanation that needs to be covered to inform the future. Yes Mr. Premier, cabinet, and support workers, understand where you come from and where you are and are going…

Only some of us DFID can tell some seeming realities to invoke sympathy or by way of explanation. Someone tries to explain why the budgetagreement was not forthcoming in a timely manner:

“New Ministers are still getting up to speed with what DFID does and frankly, do not have a good grasp of the nuanced and complex approaches to development or the excellent work that DFID does on underlying root causes of poverty.”

Is this correct? Better not be or better not let the electorate know. That’s one Brexit area of problem.

The reasons flow – Excellent programmes, innovative, cutting edge, transformative and successful one, are from one week to the next, without warning, being stopped/closed and cut. The argument is that the results must be tangible, easy to measure and in line with the manifesto. Again, resulting in poor decisions.

All that said, should not have anything to do with budgetary aid. Capital aid etc, maybe! DFID budget is also under high demand from competing priorities. Nothing to do with the OTs. The OTs need to be removed from the categories described.

These explanations were among others supposed to convince that Montserrat will also feel the impact. That, “the decisions are not personal or specific to the current Montserrat situation.” They should not pertain to Montserrat at all.

So where does the ignorance lie? Does this need a discussion, an explanation or just a correction? Or does it simply lie in ‘good governance’! Which by the way includes those things the CEA speaks about mentioned above and includes ‘confidence’.

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Remove the scales from the eyes and lift heads from the sand

Remove the scales from the eyes and lift heads from the sand

May 19, 2017

The Hon Premier and Minister of Finance last week announced that the annual recurrent budget, usually required to be laid before parliament by March 31, each year, is ready to be laid on June 9, 2017 for this year. The Premier made the announcement on Friday pointing out that following agreement with DFID included in the budget will be $30 million dollars that Government is committed to spend the money within this fiscal year.

It could not have been surprising that the budget was scheduled for presentation originally on March 23, 2017 considering that budget talks took place early in December 2016 and surprisingly again earlier this year.

News in late March reported the Honourable Premier and Minister of Finance and Economic Management Donaldson Romeo is expected to present his 2017/2018 budget speech on April 13, following an earlier an originally scheduled presentation to have been delivered on Thursday, March 23.

At that time the reason! “The postponement is occasioned by the change in UK Ministerial responsibility, which has caused a delay in the approval of Montserrat’s Financial Aid Business Case by the UK Minister,” the statement said.

During this time, the critics, to include the opposition made game of the situation, but as we reported acted disappointingly ignorant to the entire matter. (See Editorials of April 7 and 21, 2017.) https://www.themontserratreporter.com/category/editorial/ and https://www.themontserratreporter.com/there-really-isnt-anything-to-hide-over-budget-scrutiny/

On the postponement, there was no problem with recurrent as the Finance Minister announced funds through the Consolidated Fund allowing, “government spending to continue until passage of the Appropriation Act in April”.

The question and the discussion surrounding the budget ought to have been whether Government should have been placed or how come they were in a position, having to wait or suffer any embarrassment. Could they support such a discussion? And all the discourse and view points, are little more than gibberish, not showing any serious understanding of ‘the state of affairs’, except of course, ‘things bad’ there is no ‘economy’. But when was there one? And if there should have been one, how do you qualify that?

The utterances coming from both sides teach little, except there is a smell of forward going in the air. And what do we hear?

The Ole Dawg has been presenting some understanding of the basics in different areas required to move towards to sustained thinking and positioning. But who among the hopefuls are showing any understanding and discussing anything to lift the minds and thinking of those they hope to hoodwink, not long from now.

The budget approval came even after UK parliamentarians had no more power. Ministers are just caretakers. They will not get away with what we do here in Montserrat. But the point anyway is that, the delays could not have anything to do with DFID being under scrutiny. It is not Ministers who work the ‘sums’ and ‘work the methods’ of budget of approval. That’s putting it simple.

Capital aid and other types of aid, but budgetary could be a problem. One only has to think of the budgets of 2012-14 and a little bit of research will satisfy. This idea that DFID is being scrutinized and thus forcing them to do what they ought to have been doing, makes them very culpable for the weaknesses that have multiplied, with the answers and solutions really quite simple.

However, if the good smell is to materialise, and the words being used by the new CEA and PMO head are not resented as they already have, but rather appreciated and understood, with a public service from head to toe, ready to step out of the poor culture that has gone now much too far, and too long, indeed there are bright times ahead. Then the worry about being completely overrun by strangers will disappear and it then won’t be long for scales too fall and heads lifted out of the sand.

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Good communication is lacking – is it ignorance or dishonesty? - II

Good communication is lacking – is it ignorance or dishonesty? – II

April 21, 2017

Last week we began noting, not for the first time that good communication is lacking and asked whether this was because ignorance or dishonesty!

Surprised, we were to find that while there was no disagreement on the matter, but that we were probably too general as sometimes we are likely to be, finding no need to point directly as indeed there is enough to go around the circle.

The problem is that far too many, really many people do not understand that learning how to effectively communicate with others while choosing the right words can literally make or break growth. The question does remain however, who is interested in growth? A politician, a would-be politician, a priest, a teacher, student, parent, a manager… and everyone and anyone.

A business owner, having the ability to communicate is a vital key for long-term success. If An employee, knowing how to become a more skilled communicator will increase your value to the company and marketplace. Just being a good communicator, makes a good listener, knows when the politician is well intended or just crooked, or just as bad, in between.

So, when one side fails to exercise the skills of providing good communication, isn’t it time for the other to sharpen their skills?

One thing is sure that when truth guides the communicator, communication is easier. It is poor communication when the Human Resources (HR) department does not know or understand that they first must know how to communicate a vacancy, requiring firstly the need to make that vacancy information available to everyone.

One politician once said, “I cannot tell or inform everything, so it’s on ‘the’ website, not realising that the website is merely one tool one uses to communicate and that it requires someone with special expertise to make it work successfully. That’s knowing exactly how to effectively communicate the message or plan to the world.

Then the other thing, it requires knowledge about the message which you hopefully, want to truthfully share. Listen to the messages that come out on some of the talk programs around us that gets so mixed up. Their problem, is the difficulty of speaking without facts or intentionally misleading and or ignorantly choking with scarce truths; that they should know better.

Reference the fact that up to 2014 budgets for some years prior were made by March 31, but on figures that were allowed but not yet approved in some cases. See our recent editorials. Analysis that are skewed which must leave the listeners if any very misinformed. There was one case where the analysis contradicted itself, doing more damage to themselves.

Of course, knowing what, when and how to say anything especially when providing information for everyone to follow, is vitally important.  It lacks sense to misinform when the main idea should be to educate, so that as the matter gets clearer, simpler, you easily become a winner.

Two matters financial matters arose recently for the Government involving UK government’s budget approval and the cessation of funding from the Caribbean Development BNTF program. Much has been coming from those who could not show that they have anything to show that either of these are disastrous enough to put Montserrat in a worse position than it is economically.

Lack of knowledge in our view by these critics who are looking rather to bring down than provide ideas that would make a setback, if there is one, a success. Unfortunately lack of good communication by government does encourage the poverished behaviour, and when all put together, Montserrat loses.

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Good communication is lacking – is it ignorance or dishonesty? II

Good communication is lacking – is it ignorance or dishonesty? II

 

Last week we began noting, not for the first time that good communication is lacking and asked whether this was because ignorance or dishonesty!

Surprised, we were to find that while there was no disagreement on the matter, but that we were probably too general as sometimes we are likely to be, finding no need to point directly as indeed there is enough to go around the circle.

The problem is that far too many, really many people do not understand that learning how to effectively communicate with others while choosing the right words can literally make or break growth. The question does remain however, who is interested in growth? A politician, a would-be politician, a priest, a teacher, student, parent, a manager… and everyone and anyone.

A business owner, having the ability to communicate is a vital key for long-term success. If An employee, knowing how to become a more skilled communicator will increase your value to the company and marketplace. Just being a good communicator, makes a good listener, knows when the politician is well intended or just crooked, or just as bad, in between.

So, when one side fails to exercise the skills of providing good communication, isn’t it time for the other to sharpen their skills?

One thing is sure that when truth guides the communicator, communication is easier. It is poor communication when the Human Resources (HR) department does not know or understand that they first must know how to communicate a vacancy, requiring firstly the need to make that vacancy information available to everyone.

One politician once said, “I cannot tell or inform everything, so it’s on ‘the’ website, not realising that the website is merely one tool one uses to communicate and that it requires someone with special expertise to make it work successfully. That’s knowing exactly how to effectively communicate the message or plan to the world.

Then the other thing, it requires knowledge about the message which you hopefully, want to truthfully share. Listen to the messages that come out on some of the talk programs around us that gets so mixed up. Their problem, is the difficulty of speaking without facts or intentionally misleading and or ignorantly choking with scarce truths; that they should know better.

Reference the fact that up to 2014 budgets for some years prior were made by March 31, but on figures that were allowed but not yet approved in some cases. See our recent editorials. Analysis that are skewed which must leave the listeners if any very misinformed. There was one case where the analysis contradicted itself, doing more damage to themselves.

Of course, knowing what, when and how to say anything especially when providing information for everyone to follow, is vitally important.  It lacks sense to misinform when the main idea should be to educate, so that as the matter gets clearer, simpler, you easily become a winner.

Two matters financial matters arose recently for the Government involving UK government’s budget approval and the cessation of funding from the Caribbean Development BNTF program. Much has been coming from those who could not show that they have anything to show that either of these are disastrous enough to put Montserrat in a worse position than it is economically.

Lack of knowledge in our view by these critics who are looking rather to bring down than provide ideas that would make a setback, if there is one, a success. Unfortunately lack of good communication by government does encourage the poverished behaviour, and when all put together, Montserrat loses.

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There really isn’t anything to hide over budget scrutiny

There really isn’t anything to hide over budget scrutiny

Editorial – April 7, 2017

This Montserrat Government (GoM) for its first two budgets (2015-17) had what appeared to be an easy time and might have given the impression or caused it to be perceived that they had no problem then.

But here we are with the normal time of budget presentation gone never mind there has been no approval. This said because what no one hears about because it is obvious there are too many ostriches as we must believe that if only because TMR noted it, the budgets of 2012-13–14 were what we called ‘sham budgets’ or what we may now seem to learn were really roll-over budgets.

Something happened; do the ostriches not know, or is it that the British ‘heads’ are right in their thinking that Montserrat’s best chance is now rather despite what has been squandered and that there is nothing better to come?

And where are we, one might ask? Just short of TCI 2009. Only that the resistance is quiet acknowledgement and inability to understand the subtlety of British diplomacy, especially in the light of their own culpability. In that regard, there are persons who are still nervous, who already have lost their jobs and others demoted or moved across nervously waiting to see if they may yet be quietly disgraced.

Up to April 27, 2012 even though a budget presentation had been made, Montserrat’s cost of living was being cited as one of the reasons that “it is impossible to get to that trajectory budget support” by HMG.”

Dr. Kato Kimbabwe DFID’s representative on Island in addressing why the budget had not yet been approved, had said that because of the increasing cost of living on Montserrat and a few other things that needed to be addressed, along with, “The road map which used to be a document that essentially guided their financial relationship between DFID and the government of Montserrat setting out what the budget provisions over the next five years, would have to be rescinded…the process is on the way and normally we agree the budget and agree the business case well before the end of March…it took slightly longer than we had expected…”

So, who remembers and who said what, when in 2013, it was not until 20 May 2013 the announcement came “that the budget aid settlement amounting to EC$70.3million has been agreed.” This was an increase over the previous year by $13.2million.

But there was a budget presentation in March. Then, it was accepted that a presentation had to be made even if it was based on the previous year’s allocations, especially if it was reasonably believed the budget approval would not be less. In actuality this would have already been conveyed; the question will GoM get all it requested. In this particular case they did not, but did better than some anticipated, knowing the arguments and questions that were raised by the negotiating teams.

That year monies were provided for the Opposition office, DFID playing their part to provide good governance. $3million to settle outstanding financial liabilities; $2m to meet critical gaps; $1.5m increase in the sea and air access and 5.3m increase in the recurrent budget. Also increase in strengthening Audit function.

In 2014, the approval never came again until April and it was believed that MCAP’s loss at the general election polls could have been attributed to the Aide Memoire that eventually surfaced following another ‘temporary’ budget presentation in March.

Numerous Appropriation bills were the order of those years.

There was understandably much discussion over the green PDM government’s first budget presentation but they came out of that one, ill prepared as it had seemed, with housing allocation which their predecessor had not been able to obtain for all the years prior. But last year there was little if any observation that there was a lapse back to what this current Financial Secretary has hinted is ‘criminal’ to not spend budgeted monies.

So, what really is the state of the scrutiny now that has become so pronounced? We will speak to these soon, but by then if the soundings are correct there may be motions in place to fix what may be the cause reasons creating the communication dysfunctions in the island. As hinted earlier the closet doors will have to be thrown open, one way or the other.

 

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Think now about St. Patrick’s Day week of activities, to make it count

Think now about St. Patrick’s Day week of activities, to make it count

We did not publish a newspaper on March 17, 2017, which date would not have been used, the day being the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, declared some 32 years ago in 1985. But it is a wonder how many would know the reason for the non-publication. And the truth perhaps, who cares!

However, if we did publish, the news would have certainly concentrated on the events of the week; the events of festivities and celebrations, the events staged for entertainment, most of which were cause of annoyance for a few who continue to ponder and question, some even including the Catholics who remember the real reason the day is remembered or commemorated, it being the feast day of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of the church parish in Montserrat.

And yes, the questions and ponderings that made up the failed UWI local campus St. Patrick’s Day Lecture, now a fixture on the week of activities calendar, and easily, outside a couple rerouted events, the only disappointment perhaps, for the week.

From here that failure should have served as instructive to existence in Montserrat, instead of being so very badly misrepresented as far as the early and continued willingness to blame conveniently the wrong people for a sequence of events that should probably not have begun as far the nonperformance of the Lecture. (See the facts in the front-page story in this issue from the eventual main players) The topic of that Lecture: “St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in Montserrat: Cultural Development or Cultural Irresponsibility.”

Thus we remember, but can the question be understood, asked 17 years ago by C. Kirnon in an article: “Have we joined forces and fought for the common good of all? Or do we just portray St. Patrick’s Day Heroism by delivering speeches, writing books and poems, and perhaps staging skits and plays?”

There were several other thoughts expressed and questions asked in the article, and we highlight once again, the beginning of the article, for the time being.

This was in 2000. “It is now 232 years since the 1768 planned slave revolt in Montserrat. As background let me remind you the readers that on the 17th of March 1768, the slaves on Montserrat decided to overthrow their masters and thus gain their freedom. Remember they were not treated as equals but rather like beasts of burden. They were forced to work for long hours and were beaten if they tried to rest.”

There were all kinds of expressions, yes freedom of expression at work, but it is our suggestion, that when that is exercised we should seek always to do so on a sound foundation and with good purpose.

A sentiment expressed somewhere: “Members of the public who were in attendance and others who were waiting to view via live stream said the cancellation of the lecture based on government interference was blatant censorship and felt like a modern day 1768 betrayal.” Opinion? Maybe, expressed too early, to be kind.

Here is someone’s description which may just be a part of or maybe just an expression of an incomplete take on what is a commemoration rather than celebration. “Montserrat celebrates St. Patrick’s Day not primarily to honour its Irish heritage but to remember the nine slaves killed after a failed uprising on March 17, 1768. It is believed that a fellow slave chose to sell out the group who planned to fight for their freedom while the slave owners were celebrating.”

For the coming 250th year of the slaves uprising, beginning with the topic of the lecture that was never delivered, its contents may serve a good spring board to operate from to put all the facts and opinions together, to truly once and for all get an understanding of what it is that is commemorated and/or celebrated.

Whatever is done must take on board what was said in that article in 2000. “I am not for one minute saying that we have not had our heroic moments, for we have. Over the years we have had marches, demonstrations, strikes, enacting of Legislation to protect our basic human rights and freedoms. For instance, the right to rote, freedom of speech, freedom of association, the right to own land and other property.

The sad thing is that this cowardly, undermining and, betrayal attitude, that was evidenced back in 1768, has transcended time and generations. Today it permeates our society like a cancer…”

 

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It is time ‘good and proper communication’ be given importance

It is time ‘good and proper communication’ be given importance

It is time ‘good and proper communication’ be given importance

As Montserrat tries to find its place in a world that is beginning to believe it Is not the only living planet, life and all its assortments and departments of thrills and disappointments for the past twenty plus years, may have its starts and stops, but as of today it continues to retrogress.

The feeling is that it is difficult trying to be positive as much as negativity surrounds us. For just about any venture or relationship pursued, it has been stressed inexhaustibly that without good or proper communication, success will be remote. Today, it is a course that must form part of almost every discipline.

There is a serious lack of appreciation that good, effective communication plays importantly in the conduct of life overall, socially, economically, and spiritually.

This past week saw abrasions in presentations and reactions. Worst of all is the potential libel and slander that developed in social media, serving for mischief, entertainment and gossip.

Dr. Ingrid Buffonge along with surgeon specialist Dr. Bramiah Kassim, other medical doctors Gopal and wife Asha Gopal appeared live on ZJB Radio and pledged their strong support for a colleague whom they named, an unfortunate error.                                                                                                    

ZJB’s Basil Chambers was the host. “We are here as a team, as a group of doctors, in support for our colleague, Dr. …” Dr. Buffonge began, expressing disappointment for what she said is, “the way the whole thing was managed…” further said: “

Except for breaking the protocol regarding how such matters of a sexually nature involving young women the doctors by expressing their concern about the quick action of charging was their right, and there is nothing wrong with even commenting publicly or otherwise of their belief in the actions of their fellow doctor. However, we do not know what consultation they though necessary as to how far or how much they can say.

But for the Director of Public Prosecutions to refer to the doctors’ pronouncements especially without being specific, saying, “I think it’s highly improper and downright wrong for any doctor or anybody else to go on public radio and comment on a matter that is pending before the court.” is itself more improper and even ill-advised.

That seems to us obvious actions without thought of communication and is itself challenging persons’ right to comment on issues as human as this one. What did the doctors say that had to do with, “…One has to be mindful of the right to a fair trial… to go on the radio to me [is] tantamount to trying to influence potential jurors in this matter…” which as he said has to do with the accused as well. Really? Surely, he too must be mindful of the context of the matter and indeed consider the potential outcome of police actions if they may have acted hastily. As DPP he should also be mindful of what and how he speaks.

Those who the DPP should mostly be addressing are those who resorted to social media, who may have been encouraged by their, also not so thoughtful request to ‘come forward’.

We should caution that nothing here is intended to discuss the allegations as to truth or its falsehood, but merely to draw attention to those who often are may need to provide information to the public of whatever nature. 

Likewise, the pronouncements of the Women Resource Centre while spoken in seemingly general nature of the problem facing women in particular, was in our view also untimely.

So it says, directing attention to the issue, “stands in support of this young woman and all other victims and alleged victims of gender based assault.”

What can be wrong for anyone else to express their support for an accused person. Does that in any way suggests if the actions complained of are true that they are condoned. In this case they went on to state their concerns of issues raised and should serve as further advice as to how those entrusted with the care of such matters should operate.

We submit that communication here was also untimely: “It is very unfortunate and discouraging that the onus is always on the girls and women in Montserrat to prove their allegations rather than on the alleged perpetrators to disprove them.”

Did the DPP not think after citing the matter, that this might be influencing potential jurors?

He seems conflicted as he speaks about ‘justice’ from time to time, struggling as he perhaps more than defence attorneys must always consider that the law is not just for one side, but everyone, just as he intimated in his comment, about a fair trial. Justice is for the complainer as the accused.  His office as that of the Attorney General should pay attention to the many times they face the Appeal Court, an example the just concluded Warren Cassell Case, and they are asked, “is that fair, is that justice?”

Telling the public that the doctors were “highly improper and downright wrong,” to state their concern in any matter where they are accused, is in our view is poor communication. They may have miscommunicated as well, but generally, they were not wrong or improper.

They were representing the public entitled to a view point on any matter, however the circumstances may dictate.

END

 

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