Mon | Oct 23, 2017

Headlines we’d love to see

Published:Monday | November 2, 2015 | 12:00 AM

I have absolutely nothing against the individuals who choose to serve in public office, but it irks me that because of politics, some have attained invulnerability and are above ethical reproach. They don't accept the consequences of their actions. Because of this, there are certain headlines that we would love to see in Jamaica.

Will we ever see this headline: 'Minister resigns after massive cock-up'? Bad enough that last year we were simply told to brace for the very debilitating, deadly and expensive vector-borne chik-V (something known about 2 years before), but the health minister's recent utterances constitute a mortal sin of epic proportions in the world of health care.

So many babies dying at the neonatal intensive care units of two major hospitals is one thing, but people in the know don't directly blame the minister of health for their very unfortunate and sad demise. Friends tell me that Dr Ferguson is really a very nice person, but when a minister of health refers to children, no matter how premature and frail, as "not babies in the real sense", it reeks of a gross lack of knowledge and/or extreme insensitivity. Such a horrible faux pas suggests that the authorities have scant regard for the lives of newborns.

In spite of the minister's repeat broadcasts of apologies and after-the-fact (proxy) explanatory statements from the minister of information (all in the name of damage control), the minister's visage and voice will always remind the nation of that epic fail.

Such a minister should resign. Allowing such a minister to continue in that job clearly demonstrates that this administration is choosing politics over policies.

Will we ever see this headline: 'Elected official resigns after failing to make good on campaign promises'? If we base our expectations and projections of improved infrastructure, security and economic success on campaign speeches, Jamaica should be clean, offer first-world medical care, have paved streets everywhere, and be virtually crime-free.

 

DESERVING OF RESIGNATION

 

Falling short of fulfilling grandiose promises and braggadocio reminders of past (empty) promises is one thing; but missing the mark by a million miles is deserving of resignation. But that has never happened.

How many of us pray to see this headline: 'Local government agencies proactive against breaches'? Where was officialdom when the gully-bank dwellers, sidewalk garages, vendors, eateries, and unofficial garbage-disposal sites were being slowly established in full view of everyone? Once capturing the sidewalk becomes the ugly norm and part of the culture, it's too late.

It's almost unfair to suddenly kick them off. No wonder they look shocked, bewildered and victimised when set upon by the same authorities that bestowed entitlement by ignoring the breaches for years, thus passively presiding over their entrenchment.

Isn't it full time that we see headlines that read 'Government gets serious about pollution'? A patient of mine showed me a warning notice issued to her because a small portion of a branch broke off and fell on the sidewalk just outside her home. Yet anyone who takes the time to look will see mounds and piles of garbage disposed of in gullies by squatter communities that occupy their banks. That garbage inevitably gets flushed out to sea and eventually kills our fish, coral and beaches, and nothing is being done about that.

Don't hold your breath for this headline: 'Public official confesses to accepting finder's fees and bribes'. We all know that it happens from time to time. We all see some public officials living far above their salary scales. This has been going on for years. But how many times has anyone paid the price for corruption?

There are many other headlines that we'd all love to see, but we probably never will. When our leaders and those in authority refuse to take responsibility for their shortcomings, wrongs and/or mistakes, they cannot expect the citizenry to do otherwise. The kind of Jamaica that we are left with is one accustomed to corruption, confusing moralities and cronyism.

• Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.