Will he stay or Will he go?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s a cen­turies-old ad­mo­ni­tion, alas too of­ten for­got­ten: that the bloody instructions we teach in­evitably re­turn to plague the in­ven­tor. Also that there’s a rea­son for ev­ery sea­son. It should also be noted that, con­ve­nient mem­o­ries aside, noth­ing can stop for long the nat­u­ral or­der of things, that we do in­deed reap what we sow. Sev­eral years ago a lo­cal prime min­is­ter and near de­ity found him­self in deep trou­ble af­ter his love let­ters to an un­der­age school­girl landed in the pages of this news­pa­per. With due re­spect to the dead, the story has sev­eral times been res­ur­rected—and not only by this writer. As re­cently as last April, dur­ing the cam­paign that re­turned the UWP to of­fice, a can­di­date de­clared from her po­lit­i­cal plat­form that while she was still a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter a Cab­i­net col­league had sex­u­ally as­saulted her in his of­fice. More pre­cisely, he had at­tempted to kiss her while try­ing to undo her blouse.

Within min­utes, the young elec­tion can­di­date found her­self un­der a del­uge of abuse of the worst kind, much of it re­lat­ing to the be­hav­ior of the de­ceased for­mer prime min­is­ter, also her fa­ther. Never mind that at the time of the shock­ing ex­pose even the church had come out in sup­port of him, now his daugh­ter—a child at the time—was be­ing as­so­ci­ated with the egre­gious be­hav­ior that so many had en­dorsed, and not only tac­itly. In­deed, one such en­dorse­ment came from a church pul­pit.

In re­cent times an­other gov­ern­ment min­is­ter has been mak­ing head­lines as­so­ci­ated with his no longer pri­vate be­hav­ior with an 18-year-old fe­male who was last Fri­day charged with at­tempt­ing to black­mail the min­is­ter. If it may be said our jus­tice sys­tem is co­matose, the court of pub­lic opin­ion moves at light­ning speed, maybe be­cause it does not rely on in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ad­mis­si­ble ev­i­dence. In the par­tic­u­lar mat­ter, the court of opin­ion ap­pears un­con­cerned with what the young wo­man has been ac­cused of. In­deed, the thou­sands of of­fi­cials of the court of pub­lic opin­ion sound un­con­cerned that a se­ri­ous crime may have been com­mit­ted. What has grabbed un­di­vided at­ten­tion of its ubiq­ui­tous judges is the per­ceived im­moral­ity of the vic­tim of the al­leged black­mail.

Point­less cit­ing the prece­dent set in the case of the ear­lier men­tioned prime min­is­ter (and sev­eral other mat­ters since). You will be re­minded that all of this hap­pened a long time ago (ac­tu­ally the year was 1992), that “all we want to talk about is the present.” Ob­vi­ously the court of pub­lic opin­ion has no re­gard for the wise words of Ge­orge San­tana: “Those who can­not re­mem­ber the past are doomed to re­peat it.”

The court of pub­lic opin­ion now says, for­get about the past; let’s deal with the now—as if prece­dents, some over 500 years old, were of no im­por­tance. The court of pub­lic opin­ion in­sists that the min­is­ter proved by his ac­tions with an 18-year-old fe­male that he is not fit for of­fice. Of course, it must be ac­knowl­edged that the peo­ple have ev­ery right to de­cide who is fit or un­fit to hold pub­lic of­fice—whether his or her record in­cludes time served for drug traf­fick­ing, mur­der or rape. Alas, there is a prob­lem. And it cen­ters on the ex­is­tence of duly ap­pointed courts and a jus­tice sys­tem that de­mands a sus­pect be con­sid­ered in­no­cent un­til proven guilty. Ad­di­tion­ally, it must be noted that the min­is­ter in re­cent ques­tion has not been charged with a crime. On the con­trary, he is the os­ten­si­ble tar­get of an al­leged crime. Even his worst de­trac­tors ad­mit he has done “noth­ing il­le­gal.”

Oh, but pay he must any­way, ac­cord­ing to the high priests of the court of pub­lic opin­ion. Why? Well, he ob­vi­ously has no morals, proof of which is to be found in cir­cu­lat­ing em­bar­rass­ing pic­tures taken with or with­out the min­is­ter’s con­sent. Point­less sug­gest­ing the min­is­ter is pay­ing—and will con­tinue to pay a long time for what­ever part he may have played in the tragedy, whether or not in­ad­ver­tently. The court of pub­lic opin­ion seems al­ready to have ruled the min­is­ter must go, the sooner the bet­ter. But what if the min­is­ter should de­cide to quit, ei­ther vol­un­tar­ily or be­cause of pres­sure from within his gov­ern­ment or with­out? Will that put an end to what cre­ated the scan­dal in the first place? What will be the prime min­is­ter’s rea­son for send­ing the min­is­ter pack­ing? His per­sonal sense of moral­ity? What will be the po­lit­i­cal price—of ma­jor im­por­tance to politi­cians, es­pe­cially in­cum­bents, and their hack satel­lites? Ac­cord­ing to our court of pub­lic opin­ion in an­other re­cent time, the prime min­is­ter him­self is un­fit to hold of­fice, based on a mul­ti­plic­ity of charges, con­trived or oth­er­wise—all of them deemed po­lit­i­cal, at any rate as seen through eyes of cer­tain color.

Would it not be a step in the right di­rec­tion to let the law— and I re­fer to the Con­sti­tu­tion, not to the books of Moses (no, not JnBap­tiste) —take its course? Is this not a per­fect op­por­tu­nity for some long nec­es­sary self-ex­am­i­na­tion, the per­fect time to ques­tion our own con­tri­bu­tions to the road that has brought us to our sorry des­ti­na­tion? There is much more to be said on this mat­ter that has more legs than a cen­tipede. For now, let us all take a long look in the mir­ror and for once check our eyes for motes!

Se­na­tor-Min­is­ter Ubaldus Ray­mond: By now he knows the full mean­ing be­hind Luke’s ad­mo­ni­tion that there is noth­ing con­cealed that will not be dis­closed, or hid­den that will not be made known.

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