Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Fabian Lewis | Can anyone take Trevor Munroe seriously?

Published:Tuesday | August 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMFabian Lewis

Self-appointed corruption czar and former communist Trevor Munroe is absent these days, it seems. Just recently, he was in righteous indignation over the de-bushing programme launched by the Government. He was on the Government like white on rice every day, even calling for ministers to resign over what I consider he really wanted to say: making sure the PNP lost the local government elections. Trevor Munroe has been quite silent since the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) corruption burst into public view. I am wondering if it is because the scandal-hit FLA has been exposed on a level stretching back to the previous administration. One would have thought that his moral outrage would have been at such a level that he would have been calling upon the former minister to resign as MP by now.

But even more serious is the partisan nature in which many so-called civil-society groups operate. It has been so in this country for quite some time, and has led to the erosion of public trust in many of these groups. Civil-society groups are supposed to advocate on behalf of the good of society, regardless of which administration is in power. Not so in Jamaica. Once the topical problem is related to their party of choice, it is either ignored or the public gets a sanitised version of condemnation. No society can function well if the organs of change are politically one-sided.

 

Unified stance needed

 

If the ongoing disaster at the FLA were purely a JLP thing, you would have had more vocal condemnation from these self-appointed moral crusaders. It is glaring in the way these people go about their condemnations. What happens when something serious occurs in this country that needs a unified stance to be taken by all, when people don't trust these groups? It is one thing to have a polarised political climate, but when supposedly neutral groups take political sides consistently, it blunts their effectiveness and undermines the job they are supposed to be doing. The conduct of several civil-society groups demonstrates that they are more an extension of their favorite political party, just like trade unions are, more than a voice for change.

It is sad that in a country like ours, everything is riven with political consideration rather than service in the nation's interest. One would have hoped that Trevor Munroe's National Integrity Action and other groups would have been calling upon the former national security minister, Peter Bunting, to give the nation an explanation over why the rut went on unabated for so long under his regime. The few who have spoken out about this matter have focused exclusively on the political appointments. That's not the issue here. The deeper issue lies in the fact that these corrupt acts were left to fester for so long without anything being done about it. And that can only be attributed to negligence on the part of Peter Bunting in his former role. Civil-society groups need to ask him to answer up.

If these groups are to get back any semblance of respect, they need to look at themselves and ask the question: Whatat are we about? In whose interest are we acting? Only with the right introspection and reorganisation can they hope to reclaim the trust and respect of the wider public.

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