Mon | May 25, 2020

Why must leaders say the dumbest things?

Published:Monday | May 20, 2019 | 12:17 AM


The recent statement to Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) by Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) President Professor Fritz Pinnock has really “cracked the shell of a rotten egg”.

In his bid to justify the questionable $5-million contract between the CMU and former Jamaica Labour Party Member of Parliament Othneil Lawrence, Pinnock told the PAAC members that we as Jamaicans are placing too much emphasis on qualifications.

To hear this statement coming from the head of one of our ­universities really boggles the mind and insults those who strive for matriculation, excellence at the workplace, and other aspects of life.

Can we as a country move from poverty to prosperity without the majority of our workforce having the requisite qualifications for their respective jobs? Why must our leaders continue to say the dumbest things? If our leaders continue to support mediocrity, the country will continue to lag behind its competitors, both in terms of productivity and governance.

One’s political affiliations should not be the main thing for anyone to get a job or a contract in the public sector. In fact, it should not be even a factor.

Although qualification goes beyond the résumé of an individual, it is a bar that has to be set in any meritocracy.

I want Dr Pinnock to know that qualification for any position or assignment is a combination of factors, including competence, integrity, commitment and vision. The word ‘politics’ does not appear as a factor on the arc of ‘being qualified’.

This culture of ‘pull string’ that has besieged our employment processes often lead to a culture of incompetence that has dogged both the private and public sectors.

Pinnock’s statement, therefore, supports mediocrity and the ‘pull string’ culture that have held back the country and productivity over the years. At best, he should retract his statement and apologise to the education fraternity.

One cannot, and should not, say dumb things that counter the competence of one’s office. The paradox of being a bright and smart individual is that he/she sometimes relapses into a state of silliness.


Former JLP councillor