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GRENADA-POLITICS-Opposition dismisses latest Cabinet re-shuffle in Grenada

 ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Sept 1, CMC – The leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Nazim Burke, has dismissed the latest Cabinet re-shuffle announced by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell earlier this week, saying it is one that is clearly about party politics and not national development.

“A Cabinet re-shuffle is supposed to be about improving management of the state, but what was announced by Dr Mitchell on Wednesday, was clearly about party politics, not national development,” he said a statement.

“What was presented as a national address was nothing but a NNP (New National Party) position that could easily have been conveyed to members in a party meeting,” Burke said, adding there is no mention of other issues the party considered to be more important than reshuffling of the cabinet.

NDCC“There was no mention of issues of national importance, such as productivity to stabilise the economy and remove it from life support, sexual crimes against women, girls and boys, the critically high youth unemployment, the citizenship by investment programme which is now under a dark cloud with allegations of corruption and sale of diplomatic passports and the deplorable state of the facilities to care for the mentally ill,” said Burke.

In his address, Prime Minister Mitchell said that as of Friday, two of his ministers would be leaving the government even while providing support in other ways.

Mitchell said Brenda Hood, who entered politics in 1999 general elections and won the St George’s Constituency was retiring while and Roland Bhola, who entered politics in 2003 general election, would be moving away from representative politics and transitioning to lead the work of the New National Party.

Without mentioning the words “general election” or “winning”, Mitchell indicated in his broadcast that the NNP is preparing to continue as the Government following the upcoming general elections.

“Sisters and brothers, as we approach the dawn of another Grenadian morning, we recognize that there is much work to do and we are on duty. We also recognize that in this new season, as we endeavour to serve you better before we come to you again seeking your support, we know that we must make some adjustments,” the Prime Minister said.

“We continue to build on our successes; and to fine-tune our agenda to meet the needs of these modern times.  Our attitude going forward is based on the understanding of the need for continuity, while constantly dipping into the well of renewal,” he said while telling the Nation that he and his party’s executive council are confident that the next generation of Grenadian leadership is beginning to emerge under their guidance and influence.

But describing the speech as a political campaign message, the NDC leader said that the national address was “simply a man begging to remain in office so that the country’s scarce resources can be kept for himself and his chosen few.

“The time has come for the people of Grenada to be more than spectators in their own country, and this address, which was not a national address from the prime minister, is a wake-up call for voters that his administration is about his party, not the nation,” the NDC leader added.

CMC/ls/ir/2017

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ramlogan

TRINIDAD-CRIME-Former attorney general formally charged

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 30, CMC – Former attorney general Anand Ramlogan was on Wednesday formally charged with misbehaviour in public office more than 30 hours after he was picked up at his southern home by police.

ramlogan
Anand Ramlogan

A statement issued by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) stated that Ramlogan, who served as attorney general here from 2010-15, was charged “with misbehaviour in public office and obstruction of justice arising from allegations contained in a report made by Mr. David west to the Commissioner of Police on January 28, 2015”.

The statement said that the charges were laid against Ramlogan, 45, following consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution and that he will appear in court on Friday September 1, “to answer the charges”. He was released on TT$750,00 (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) bail.

Earlier, one of Ramlogan’s attorneys, Senior Counsel Pamela Elder, told reporters that she was disappointed at the lengthy period it had taken to lay charges against him and that ““it is becoming oppressive now because he has been in continuous detention since 6o’clock yesterday and he has been cooperating fully with the police officers”.

The police picked up Ramlogan at his residence in Palmiste, south of here, early Tuesday morning as they continue their probe into allegations that he had sought to pervert the course of justice by asking West, the director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to withdraw a statement he had made in support of the then Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in a lawsuit more than two years ago.

In 2015, then Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar fired Ramlogan and her national security minister Gary Griffith over the allegations.

The lawsuit followed statement allegedly made by Rowley during a news conference relating to the failed extradition involving businessmen Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh, who are reported to be financiers of the United National Congress, and are wanted to the United States on corruption charges.

Ramlogan has denied that he asked David West to withdraw his witness statement in support of Rowley six days before the PCA director took up his new post.

Persad Bissessar said that Griffith had failed to inform her that he had been allegedly asked by Ramlogan to telephone West asking him to withdraw the statement.

Meanwhile, the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) Wednesday urged members of the public to refrain from making comments on the detention of Ramlogan. As it chided two politicians for expressing an opinion on the matter.

In a statement, the LATT sought to remind the public of the importance of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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De Ole Dawg – Part 21: 2017: Renewing the Caribbean’s leadership culture

De Ole Dawg – Part 21: 2017: Renewing the Caribbean’s leadership culture

How can we renew our region’s leadership?

BRADES, Montserrat, July 14, 2017 – If we go back to May 10, 1940, the day when Hitler’s Panzers thrust out across Belgium, France and Holland, we will find the UK in leadership crisis. The Neville Chamberlain government had just collapsed due to the Norway fiasco. And, the only serious candidate to replace him was a most unlikely figure, the then much derided and doubted Winston Churchill.  Sure, he had spent the 1930’s warning of the gathering Nazi storm, but his track record in 1915 was that of disaster at the Dardanelles. To many, he seemed to be utterly unsuitable. And yet, those desperate days of the Battle of Britain after the Fall of France and the hard, bloody, painful, tear-stained years that followed cemented him in history as one of the greatest leaders of all time.

From this, we can know that the leadership we need in the Caribbean may come from unexpected directions, and may be under a cloud (especially given the habit of big frogs to spit “cocobeh” on those they don’t like). But, sound leadership is marked by courage and almost prophetic insight as to what is coming; which is bound to be controversial or even unpopular. Also, that if we are to have good leadership, we must be willing to be led, even by people we may not like. Envy, selfish ambition, utter disrespect for truth, fairness and the right, etc. will block or undermine any leadership. Disaster lies down that road, big frogs. And, leadership “cocobeh” can be cured.

We already know that ground zero for renewing Caribbean leadership and curing the “cocobeh” plague is our churches, and wider civil society: that is where our people already are. We know that sound ethical vision and example are critical – leadership is visionary, transforming service by example, not just empty words. We know that we have to educate and train leaders, and that sound, godly character makes a big difference. We know, we want a participative, community based approach, but this implies a major public education effort to renew our vision. There are too many myths and misunderstandings out there, too many manipulators. That also means we need plumb-line tests that let us know who we can trust, and who will lead us into marches of folly.

All of this already points to the pivotal role of newspapers with sound, brave editors. This is the only medium of mass communication that provides record, reach and always available access. It also implies that we need people to rise up with the courage, insight and will to stand in the gap, not just in prayer and teaching the scriptures or the like, or teaching sound history, but providing sound and even prophetic insight so that we can understand the signs, opportunities and challenges of our times as a region and thus be strategically guided as to what we should do.  Yes, good old SWOT analysis has its place: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

 Such immediately shows that we also need educators willing to train our people in leadership, committing themselves to writing on a regular basis, speaking, presenting, holding workshops, supporting church leaders, clubs, schools, and so forth, across the community.  (And yes, some of these should be providing training in business leadership, starting with how to start and run a successful small business.)

I would go beyond that. We are in an era of tablet computers, smart phones, low-cost laptops, online libraries and distance education by Internet.  Our churches, collectively provide the widest network of community-based facilities suitable to support education services across our region.

So, why not, let us create an online based, local centre-supported Associate Degree programme, with a concentration in Caribbean themed-, Christian Discipleship and Gospel Ethics based-, transformation- oriented leadership and service? Why not, let’s put as a major component in that, equipping our people with IT, Computer Science, high tech agriculture, small business, management, electronics and other technical skills? Why not, support this with a secondary completion and bridging programme that helps a good slice of the 80% of our youth who do not have good exam certificates, access such a programme with a good change of success?  Why not, associate this with short courses, workshops and the like that allow our people to build up specific skills they need? Why not, create an associated Graduate/Professional Diploma and Masters programme in education, to help build up the technical and professional muscle to back up such an initiative?(Surely, such an initiative can help make a key difference.)

Similarly, I think our churches, newspapers, media houses and civil society organisations need to provide widely accessible training in straight thinking, public speaking/presenting, sound persuasion [as opposed to manipulation], and in proper procedure for organising groups, running meetings and managing small projects – including business development projects.  In this work, let us look at the modern versions of Robert’s Rules of Order and similar guides to sound organisation and procedure.

There is also a place for sponsoring and supporting church and civil society based think tanks and organised reform movements.  In turn, this calls for a new spirit of volunteering of time, effort, skills and yes adequate money.  Investing – it is indeed an investment – in leadership is one of the keys to building a sound future for this or any other region.  Thus, we must ask: if not now, then when? If not here, then where? If not us, then who? And, where will that end up? END

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De Ole Dawg – Part 20: 2017: Challenging the Caribbean’s churches and civil society on leadership

De Ole Dawg – Part 20: 2017: Challenging the Caribbean’s churches and civil society on leadership

How can we nurture fresh, clean, capable, well-informed leadership across our region?

BRADES, Montserrat, July 14, 2017 – Now, our churches host the largest voluntary social involvement in our region.  That’s simply a basic fact about our region. However, this brute fact instantly means the churches are “ground zero” in the struggle for the Caribbean’s future. So, if we are to create a fresh, David generation of leadership in the Caribbean, the churches – yes, our churches – and civil society must act. In so acting, we must address the Big frog in a dirty pond challenge, and we must defend ourselves from fresh taints coming into our region from outside. 

That puts ethical vision at the centre of our rebuilding of leadership challenge. And it means that we have a plumb-line test for those offering to “help” us or “inform” us or “lead” us: if such are cynical or disrespectful about or manipulative towards the churches and the core gospel and ethics messages handed down from the Messiah, Apostles and Martyrs, that should set off alarm bells

But equally, those in our churches, other community-based organisations and civil society who refuse to rise to the challenge to renew and refresh the Caribbean’s leadership culture – especially among our youth – are also part of the problem, not the solution.  Irrelevance, ethical blindness, corruption or cowardice in the pulpit, classrooms, lecture halls, clubs, professional bodies and editorial boards etc. are outright menaces to our region.

Education efforts, syllabuses, textbooks and courses in schools, colleges, businesses, organisations and civil society are another flash-point. Too many of these simply echo the old and new follies of the increasingly apostate and suicidal North – usually in the name of progress or even science.  Neither will it do to turn money into a god, naively running after any potential investor or alleged development “partner” who waves a fist-full of dollars at us.  Nor, does the “watermelon” strategy improve matters: repackaging failed “progressive” strategies and agendas under a green cover.  Turning politicians into messiahs is also going to fail. Yes, there is a very good reason why Marxism collapsed a generation ago and there are reasons why our region’s churches, civil society at large, educators, pundits and politicians by and large failed to provide consistently adequate, sound insight and strategic guidance at the time and since then. 

Where, too, while atheistical, godless evolutionary materialism often pretends to be the mark of being bright, sophisticated and well-informed, in fact it is inevitably utterly corrosive of morality and good governance.  For, this ideology has no foundation in it that can bear the weight of “ought,” of duty, of moral government. So, it utterly corrodes conscience once it spreads across and dominates leadership in a community.  That has been on record since the days of Plato pondering why Athenian Democracy self-destructed. Here is his key warning in The Laws, Book X[1]:

“ . . . these people would say that . . . the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them . . . These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, . . .  and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in legal subjection to them.”

That grim lesson of history is a key part of the deep background for what the US Founders agreed to say in the US Declaration of Independence, July 4th 1776:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

In turn, these words echo Canon Richard Hooker’s Scripture driven insights cited by John Locke:

my desire . . . to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . ” [Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2, Sect. 5.]

Hooker continued, citing Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: “because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ” In short, Paul was right that the core moral law is stamped on our consciences. So, sound civil society will nurture conscience-guided reason and will seek to raise up leaders who respect God-given rights, thus mutual duty to do the right by our neighbours. This then leads to the collective right and duty to renew and reform civil society and government across our region towards the manifest good. 

Unfortunately, we hardly ever hear such ethics of citizenship and leadership ideas and challenges in our churches, schools, newspapers etc. anymore. That’s why this article highlights the question of sound, ethically based leadership vision. And no, our people are not too stupid, ignorant or benumbed in conscience to understand such matters. END

[1]           http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/laws.10.x.html

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frog

De Ole Dawg – Part 19: 2017: The Caribbean’s tainted leadership challenge

How do we deal with “Cocobeh”- tainted big frogs in our region’s small ponds?

BRADES, Montserrat, July 13, 2017 – One of the old-time Caribbean superstitions is the one about how “frogs” (especially toads) carry “Cocobeh,” leprosy. Many an innocent frog has paid with its life for this myth. And even that crime against ecology is part of how useful “the Cocobeh model” is for understanding and solving the region’s tainted leadership challenge. For our governments, for our businesses, for education, media, even churches, regional/international bodies and sports.

Too many leaders in our region and far beyond seem to be part of a toxic leadership culture of being big frogs in a dirty, tainted pond. They have Cocobeh, they spread it to the pond, they infect those who work with them, they even use it as a weapon, spitting it on those who challenge them. So, Cocobeh is too often deeply embedded in our regional leadership culture. That is, a toxic brew of corruption, deceit, selfish ambition, envy, greed and too often critical gaps in character and capability that predictably turn promising projects into damaging failures. Under these circumstances, just getting into or living near the pond is a hazard, much less having to deal with infected leadership at close hand day by day.

This is a tough challenge, but it is hardly a new one. Nor is it unique to our region. Indeed, our region’s most common history book has in it a key case study from 3,000 years ago. Namely, the transition between the Saul and the David generations. Saul started well, but became tainted and was troubled with depression, jealousy and more. David first came into his life as a young talented musician who could help calm his troubled spirit. Then, one day the lad killed a giant, stirring jealousy as Saul heard the people praise David for a feat he had been too demoralised and tainted to attempt. So, even though David was now his youngest General, son-in-law and even head of his bodyguard, in his fits of rage and envy Saul began to throw javelins at him and to scheme against him. Ironically, the Crown Prince (Jonathan) Saul wanted to promote became David’s close friend and mentor. Eventually, David had to flee for his life, ending up at the cave of Adullam. Then, we read how:

1 Sam 22:2 “ . . . everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to [David]. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.”  [ESV]

This seemingly unpromising group became David’s mighty men and the core of the greatest generation of leadership in Israel’s history. They stood with him through thick and thin, even when he had to flee to exile among his enemies. And when Saul and his sons fell in battle at Mount Gilboa in the Jezreel region, they were joined by six hundred Philistines when David first returned to Hebron. (These, brought with them the key breakthrough technology of that day: Iron-making.)

The pattern is clear enough: in and around a tainted pond, genuine breakthrough leadership will always be under attack by javelin throwers and will be spied on and schemed against. Such alternative leaders therefore need to have support teams with a critical mass of capability, and opportunity to grow. Key technologies may be a big part of their secret sauce. They may need to go into exile to come into their full potential. They may need to bring in outside expertise. And, they will need to be purified from the taint of the dirty pond.

Big frogs will know this and they will fight dirty to protect their turf. They will try to lock out promising young people they don’t favour. The tempting offer of tainted funding or the tainted “compromise solution” or the dangerous “promotion” are obvious tricks. They will create false but persuasive stories. They will try to stir up scandals and will try to put up street theatre stunts, all to be barked up loudly far and wide by their media wolf-packs. They will throw javelins – whether rhetorical or real. They will drive out those they promoted but cannot compromise, capture and control. They will hunt them down after they have fled, driving them into exile. They will find every excuse to undermine and discredit expertise that is not under their tainted control. Lastly, it may take devastating failure, defeat and a long, confused leadership struggle before a David generation can come into its own. All of which seems all too sadly familiar.

So, we need to learn how to tell the difference between the Saul Generation trying to capture the future and an emerging David generation. The track record that shows Cocobeh-taint is a main clue. Character shown by diligent stewardship is a key test, as he who is untrustworthy with what is little will also be untrustworthy with what is much. Jealousy and dirty favouritism games will also speak. So will a track record of tainted projects. As will bad attitude towards truth, fairness, the right, the just. All across our region, it is time to move beyond the tainted culture of a dirty small pond. END

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ECCB Jan 2017 data

De Ole Dawg – Part 18: 2017: Time for truth about Montserrat’s economy

What is the true state of our economy, and what should we do about it?

BRADES, Montserrat, June 28, 2017 – One of the common sayings on our streets is “the economy is dead,” and many shop-owners say that sales are “slow.” At the same time there is a wave of “new” Internet cars on our roads – which will eat up “free- to- spend money” for many families. Some local businesses are actually building additional capacity, while many others have “dead” or slow-moving stock. Some homes are being built, but there are few factories. For decades, local agriculture has been a tiny sector of our economy, now about 2 – 3%. There has been an obvious increase in cruise ship visits over the past few years, but tourism is nowhere near what it was pre-volcano. A very mixed pattern.

How, then, can we make sense of the economic big picture? For one, the ECCB is the official source for economic data about Montserrat. So, here are their January 2017 growth rate figures since 2007- 8 (when the global economic down-turn began):

As a comparison, the IMF recently estimated that the USA is expected to grow at 2.3% this year, the UK at 1.5%, Germany at 1.5% and France at 1.3% – major sources for tourism. In the years since 2007 – 8, US growth has never exceeded 3%. Such persistent low growth is a clear sign of long-term weakness of the global economy.  Also, a few years ago, the ECCB noted that growth in the EC$ zone has slowed from 6% in the ‘80’s to 3% in the ‘90’s then to about 1% recently, and has called for measures to restore long-term growth to 5 – 7%. (Note: Montserrat’s economic numbers critically depend on and fluctuate with annual budget grants and capital aid projects from the UK. Figures for 2016 – 18 (in blue) are estimates or projections, showing a gradual increase in growth. Where, too, EC$ 100 – 200 thousand – less than the cost of a “typical” house – is about a tenth of one percent of our local economy’s annual output, its GDP. That is, building just one house can make a difference.  And, post Brexit, UK capital project support is uncertain, in part due to the fall in the Pound and given the UK’s ongoing negotiations to leave the EU. We also have to address major challenges on financial management, governance and transparency.)

In 2012, as part of a business case to inject over EC$ 5 million to deal with MDC’s “failure,” DfID argued[1]:

“The economy of Montserrat has never recovered from the volcanic eruptions of 1995 and subsequent years . . . . The population has now declined to 4922 and the base of local business comprises 150-200 firms, mostly micro-enterprises servicing the small local market . . . The tourism sector has also declined by over 50% since the mid-90s. Housing and other social amenities existing before the eruptions have not been fully replaced. The island is heavily dependent on imports of all types of goods and services . . . .

 

Little Bay and Carr’s Bay are the only developable sites left on the island capable of offering access by sea, providing a base for new [investment] in tourism and other sectors, providing new commercial space and civic amenities and housing the critical mass of population and business necessary to stimulate local private sector development.”

Unfortunately, this picture is still largely so five years later – something both our local governments and DfID need to clearly, publicly explain. Notwithstanding, they have agreed to jointly expedite several key projects:

  1. sea port development, phase 1
  2. geothermal energy development,
  • hospital developments,
  1. access and connectivity; and,
  2. human resources/public sector reform phase 3

These and other similar projects (e.g. Fibre Optic Cable based digital access) should help to open up room for self-sustaining economic growth and transformation. However, it will likely take 2 – 3 years to get these projects moving, and economic transformation will probably require 10 – 20 years; that’s what it took between the 1960’s and 80’s. In the meanwhile, and alongside those projects, we need a steady flow of modest development-oriented projects.  Such projects will help to rebuild our infrastructure, promote economic development, meet key education, health and welfare needs, while providing employment. Again, just one house makes a difference – much less, seven.

However, an artificially pumped up “boom” is neither the normal state of an economy nor is it a wise one. As, excessive “stimulation” will “overheat” and distort an economy and will create unrealistic expectations that will make the following “bust” all the harder to bear. And, if an economy’s productive capacity has been reduced due to shocks or the economy is out-dated, “overheating” may happen before all who want jobs can find work. Likewise, if businesses are not well suited to the changing local or global economy, they can fail even while others are seeing “good” times. Also, what feels like good growth can be unsustainable, due to a mismatch to key trends and hazards. For example, it could be argued that by the mid 1980’s local and UK officials knew or should have known about our volcanic hazards, and they had in hand specific recommendations. Putting all the eggs in the Plymouth basket (especially post-Hugo) may well have unfortunately contributed to what proved to be unsustainable development.

We cannot change the painful past, but we can learn from it. So, going forward, let us focus development policy on sound, self-sustaining economic growth and development. END

[1]           http://iati.dfid.gov.uk/iati_documents/4158833.odt

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Governor Carriere to shorten her Montserrat tour of duty end of this year

Governor Carriere to shorten her Montserrat tour of duty end of this year

Early today the Governor’s Office issued a surprise release which follows:

“Her Excellency the Governor, Elizabeth Carriere, will be leaving Montserrat in early January 2018 to take up a senior position with an international development non-governmental organisation (NGO) to work in Africa on programmes related to development, social justice and gender equality.

By the time of her departure Ms Carriere will have completed two and a half years of her three year appointment as Governor.

The release reported  the Governor, speaking of her new appointment and her departure from Montserrat, she said:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my work as Governor of Montserrat and am grateful for the opportunity to work in this role and in this special place.  Montserrat will always remain close to my heart.  However, I have to look forward to what comes next after my role here. My next appointment will return me to Africa to work in areas of development that are of great importance to me – social justice, economic empowerment and gender equality. But the latest I can take up this position is January 2018. Sadly, this means that I will have to leave Montserrat early, before my three year term is completed.  I am making arrangements to leave the UK Civil Service and take up this position by the beginning of 2018.  I will be able to say more about this nearer the time.”

As we reported two weeks ago referring already thinking of her departure, prophetically perhaps, to her legacy, we recall reporting statements on her arrival to Montserrat, near exactly two years ago, when she responded to the welcome speeches, noticeably stressing on Good Governance.

The process of selecting the next Governor has begun and Ms Carriere will work closely with her successor to ensure a good handover, and hopes that progress continues in the important areas of her work.

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Pic l-r B West, B Roach, I Osborne, H Jutle, A Thomas, M McKenzie, C Williams and J Deepack

Montserrat Red Cross holds its AGM and elects new board

Pic l-r: B West, B Roach, I Osborne, H Jutle, A Thomas, M McKenzie, C Williams and J Deepack

The Montserrat branch of the British Red Cross has a new board of Directors following its Annual General Meeting held on July 20, 2017.

 The appreciative membership present elected a full slate of eight-member Committee, of which an Executive Committee will be elected.

 The new board comprises:

 Mr. Bennette Roach

Mrs. Beverly West-Joseph

Mr. Jaywani Deepak

Miss Harjinder Jutle

Mrs. Anne Buffonge-Thomas

Miss Milykhia McKenzie

Mrs. Carol Williams

Mrs. Ingrid Osborne

Mr. Bennette Roach will serve as Chairman of the Board, replacing Andre West who has served out his term of office.

The last three named members were continuing from the previous Committee.

Mrs. Ann Thomas, former MRC chairman chaired the AGM with Executive Director Richard Aspin reading the Report in the absence of the outgoing chairman Andre West.

Other executive positions on the board will be allocated at its first meeting carded for next month.

Out-going Secretary Mary Farrell tallied the votes

Ann Thomas

Committee presented to the members

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Plumb line

De Ole Dawg – Part 17: 2017: The truth in leadership challenge

How important is truth in national leadership? (Do lies work in the end?)

BRADES, Montserrat, June 27, 2017 – Last time, we highlighted that leadership is the art of taking initiatives that influence and motivate people through one’s example, thus helping them to accomplish a mission or fulfill a vision.” So, let’s look at this week’s key question(s) by thinking about what happens if our example is based on seeing correctly or being blinded by lies. Where, the all-time greatest of all servant leaders, Jesus of Nazareth, boiled it all down to one short little parable:

Luke 6:39 . . . “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”  [ESV]

In one shot, we have our main answer: leaders lead and leaders teach by the example they set, so those who follow them will become just like them, even to the point of following them in a march of folly that goes right over a cliff’s edge.

That’s because the truth accurately maps reality, but what is false, error or deceit will not match reality. So if we believe lies and make them our yardstick for judging what is sound or good, the real truth and the real good cannot pass the test of the crooked yardstick. If what we imagine is the light of truth and wisdom or brilliance is actually the darkness of error and lies we will systematically misjudge our situation and go right over the cliff’s edge.

So, we come right back to needing plumb-line tests that we can trust to check whether our walls and foundations are true and plumb.

This is also why several of the most important leaders in our community are our teachers, our historians, our pastors or priests and our journalists.  For, each of these professions has a solemn duty to inform and teach us aright.  And if they fail, they are equipping us with crooked yardsticks that will so warp us that when the real truth or right counsel come to us, we may well dismiss it as absurd nonsense.

To our ruin.

(And yes, it is a sad thing that in the early days of the volcano crisis, our people were too often poorly informed and were given inadequate relief and support. Twenty years on, we should all agree that there is no way that people should have been forced to live under awful shelter conditions for two years, and that far too many people did not truly understand the hazards and risks we faced.  We must never again have to admit after a fatal disaster that official warnings were inadequate, not plain-spoken enough,  that “something was always lacking.”  Nor should people have to ever ask again whether the real policy of our officials was “don’t tell them everything.” [“It could have been avoided,” TMR, June 23, 2017, p. 5 – a reprint from 1997.] )

When it comes to politicians, too often the truth has been disregarded. No, it is not acceptable to slander people on the political platform or on a radio show or in parliament. No, it is not acceptable to misrepresent sobering economic realities regarding our credible options for the future. No, no politician can be a messiah able to deliver us from all our woes and troubles, leading us to a magical utopia. No, it is not acceptable to claim “rights,” where one has not first shown that one is in the right on the matter.  No, the world does not owe us a living. And no, we are not going to solve our major economic challenges overnight.

No, tourism is not a cure-all, nor is it a dead end; it is a major potential growth driver but we will have to manage it very carefully to reap benefits, and we must use it to help seed other areas for growth. No, renewable energy, too, is not a cure all but it is – again – a significant sector that we will have to manage very carefully if we are to reap its benefits. No, information and communication technologies are – yet again – not a cure all, but these technologies are going to shape the future so decisively that we must become highly knowledgeable and capable in this area or we will not even be able to repair our cars. No, science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine etc are by no means the easiest things to study; but if we do not build our capabilities in these fields, again, we are locking ourselves out of the future. No, if we do not seriously address education and training (as well as linked health and welfare), we will be perpetually handicapped by needless capacity gaps and we will lose many otherwise open opportunities. Brain power is our most valuable single renewable resource, but it has to be developed through education, training and experience.

 Montserrat, we are at a moment of truth. We must face the truth together if we are to build a viable, sound future. The future cannot be built on falsehood or trickery.

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Leader behaviour

De Ole Dawg – Part 16: 2017: Addressing Montserrat’s leadership challenge

How can we address our leadership challenge?

BRADES, Montserrat, June 24, 2017 – A good place to begin is with how we understand leadership, especially since the painful history of the Plantation still shapes our culture. It is no accident that our National Day remembers a slave uprising. I think a useful start is:

“leadership is the art of taking initiatives that influence and motivate people through one’s example, thus helping them to accomplish a mission or fulfil a vision.”

Now, while the Situation Leadership Model is getting a bit long in the tooth, it still can help us flesh this out. So, pardon a diagram:

The idea here, is that different circumstances call for different leadership approaches, ranging from R1/S1: giving detailed step- by- step instructions and supervising closely (e.g., in basic training) to R4/S4: simply appointing a trusted delegate and giving freedom to decide and act. In between, are R2/S2: a leader “sells” a decision,  or R3/S3: if there is good enough basic capability, concern and interest to build a “critical mass” to get things moving, a leadership team should facilitate participative decision and action.

However, that is still not the full picture. We need an instructive case study. So, kindly allow me to draw on the most common history book in the Caribbean, the Bible.  Here, let us consider a sixteen year old shepherd boy, three thousand years ago. He has been sent by his father, to bring rations for his big brothers in the Army; which had been called out to face an invasion. Just as he arrives in the camp, Goliath is roaring out a challenge to a battle of champions, as he had done every day for the past six weeks. But, no-one (including the King himself) was confident enough to take up the challenge.

David immediately volunteered. One of his big brothers, likely afraid that David was digging his grave with his mouth, tried to put him in his place. David insisted, and was soon meeting with the King, to whom he had to “sell” his decision to be Israel’s champion.  His resume began with lions and bears off in the bush, demonstrating skill, courage and confidence. Saul and others could also sense David’s intangible but very real aura of a breakthrough anointing.

Reluctantly, Saul agreed, and offered one of the few sets of armour the Israelites had. David tried it but was not comfortable. He would use his accustomed weapons. That’s why, just a few minutes later, he ran out to meet the giant armed with a shepherd’s club and carrying a sling in his hand. He made sure to have five stones – Goliath had four brothers.  A moment’s dead aim, and Goliath fell face down, hit in the forehead.  David then used the giant’s own sword to kill the Philistine champion, delivering a key victory. Of course, years of struggle, handling jealous schemes, setbacks and even exile followed. And, Goliath’s sword would become David’s sword. In the end, David proved to be a great King.

Instantly, we can see that leadership is not equal to official position, formal power, money, family, self-promotion, trash-talking others, or fame, etc. Instead, initiative, vision, confident, anointed influence and example are rooted in character and diligent preparation.  Such character-based leaders will have to handle harsh (and usually quite unfair) critics intent on discrediting them. Capability, experience, self-mastery and good judgement are key; especially when an emerging leader is not following business as usual.  Strategy must be based on sound, well-informed insight and realistic planning. Contingencies – four more stones for Goliath’s brothers – need to be in place. In a polarised situation, “consensus” is usually unrealistic, but a critical mass of support can get things moving: David’s brother opposed him, but someone drew him to the King’s attention. The King took some advice, did an interview, weighed his options and went with the decision.  (And indeed, David shortly entered the Army as a General.)

All of this has much to say to us. For one, we must be open to the unexpected, unorthodox leader who emerges from “nowhere” but sees what the established elites are missing. Likewise, leadership is a team game, and if we spend our time in picking well-connected favourites, undercutting, undermining, discrediting, accusing and locking out, we are setting up a leadership culture of frustration and failure. Third, leadership pivots on character, capability and sound creative insight, which we must target in training and selection. Fourth, sound leadership is about service by example, not dirty power and influence-buying games that so enmesh us in wrong-doing that by the time we reach top decision-maker positions, we have become cynical and benumbed in conscience with so many skeletons in our closets that we can only go along with the hidden agendas of backers, dominant factions and agendas; even when they are manifestly unsound. Playing big frog in a dirty small pond might well fatten our bank accounts and our power networks might keep us out of prison, but that is not going to take Montserrat forward to a sound future.

In fact, such a taint of sleaziness would only tell DfID – which is and will remain our chief development partner – that we cannot be trusted with money and responsibility to deliver on key, big ticket projects.  This is precisely why they keep stressing that we have to sort out financial management, procurement, good governance, transparency and capacity. Sure, DfID has its own scandals, but that also means they desperately do not want to see Montserrat headlined yet again as a capital example of waste or worse.

But, it’s not just about “selling” a development plan to DfID. We need to build a whole new generation of wholesome, high character, high capability, soundly confident leadership able to work with teams but knowing where to draw the line.

We need such leaders right across civil society. That points to the home, the school, the churches. We must rebuild a network of clubs, hobby groups, extracurricular activities, sports leadership programmes, business mentoring and incubation, a broad-based participative community forum and more. We need to train people in how to organise and run a club, how to run a meeting in accord with proper procedure, how to use SWOT analysis to envision a strategy, then create a proposal or plan, and how to carry out a resulting project or other initiative. Likewise, in how to spot a business opportunity, build up skills and resources, write and present a business plan, and carry it out. And more. END

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