Daniel Thwaites | The Fall of Man a Yaad
Since Junior Finance Minister Audley Shaw, one of my favourite politicians, has been having a very bad, horrible, no-good week, I'm having a very bad, horrible, no-good week also.
At first I dismissed the allegations, saying, "Is lie dem a tell pon Audley!" because I knew for certain that he couldn't be so reckless. So I dismissed an email saying, "Looks like Audley Arnaldo Brown-up himself!" and took great offence, letting the sender know that Man a Yaad would destroy his critics in a press release shortly.
I was waiting.
Then came word that in just one month, Audley spent more than $4.2 million, which is more than a million per week, $200,000 per weekday, and $25,000 per work-hour. "What a way dem lie?" I said. "Anyting coulda really guh suh? That is not even physically possible!"
Plus, nobody in their sound mind would be spending two-thirds of their yearly salary in one degge-degge month a chat pon phone, and it's public knowledge Audley has a yearly basic salary of $5.9 million. After Audley isn't some buttu seeing a phone for the first time. He has owned phones privately, I'm sure, travelled extensively, and 'served' as finance minister before. Lie dem a tell pon Audley.
What are they trying to say? That Audley was providing free Wi-Fi to all Manchester? That this is the politics of scarce benefits and data? Or that he has been playing mad video games while travelling overseas?
Finally, they came with another piece of propaganda, saying that some of the bill was his personally. Surely, I thought, that was to further confuse-up de ting. For how was that determined? Then came news of a 'discount'. More problems. What's that? A political contribution from a telephone company? No, sah.
Then came THE FALL. First a shocking admission. Then, as if Man a Yaad was scaling steps from bad to worse, I saw a performance on TVJ news and I knew that the sum of all our fears was being realised.
How many ways are there to fall? Let's see.
Man a Yaad was roaming freely around the Garden of Praasperity, only he was not to eat of the Tree of Data. "You shall not eat of the fruit of the data tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die." But tempted, Man a Yaad did eat the fruit of the tree.
There are questions to be answered, but with all this talk about 'discount' and 'personal payment', let me hazard a guess about how the rest of the story goes.
Then Man a Yaad heard the sound of RJRGLEANER Communications Group as it was walking in the garden in the cool of the day with an Access to Information request, and Audley hid from RJRGLEANER Communications Group among the trees of the garden by making a payment. But RJRGLEANER Communications Group called to Man a Yaad, "Where are you?" Man a Yaad answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was wearing white socks; so I hid."
Then, of course, is the tragic fall. In classical literature, that's when the man (or Man a Yaad), fuelled by hubris, is felled. Think of Icarus, or Oedipus, who do exactly what they've been warned against. So we have Audleypus Rex, the unforgiving scourge of Arnaldo, who for years specialised in uncovering scandals and waste in showboating grandeur, found guilty of the same breach. Damnnnnnn!
And, of course, there's the physical Fall, where Man a Yaad was confronted on his way into Parliament by RJRGLEANER Communications Group and chose to flee. He took the Henrician option, so called because the iconic instance of fleeing from the cameras was when Mike tore away from a reporter, down at the Conference Centre, escaping controversy over JDIP. That's one way to deal with a hostile interview.
Incidentally, there's the more dignified Holnessian approach, pioneered in the infamous '18 Degrees North' interview, which involves simply glaring into the camera, pursing the lips, and walking away.
And, of course, there is everyone's favourite: the 'Warmingtonian'. That's where you let the reporter have a few choice Jamaicanisms, then you add flourish with that international symbol of contemptuous disregard known in other places as flipping the bird. It helps in the Warmingtonian if you happen to have, like the originator himself, a middle finger that's as long as the ordinary person's leg.
Well, Man a Yaad seems to have spontaneously gone for the Henrician formula, and the results were disastrous. He sped past the reporter and clearly meant to gambol up the steps like a young gazelle. That's when he lost his footing, physically failing to roam properly, and fell forward.
To be clear, it wasn't a full-scale skin-out of the kind that is a pre-mating ritual in our urban areas, but nor was it a dignified slip-and-recover operation.
Having had all these other Falls, will Audley suffer a political Fall? Should he resign?
It depends, it seems to me, on some details. Negligently or even recklessly running up a phone bill is not a hanging offence in my books. Perhaps I'm an easy grader.
However, if it turns out that he signed off on one or some of these bills, authorising payments out of the public purse, there's a larger problem. One particular kite being flown is that there were no limits, controls or protocols in place before this, which is obvious hog-swill.
An even larger problem is that it appears Audley only sought to pay 'his' portion when the matter was about to go public. How were those amounts determined? And what about the mysterious 'discount'? Who negotiated that, with whom, and was it applied to the public or private portion of the bill?
And then there's that other little unquantifiable thing called 'confidence'. If Man a Yaad can't manage a phone budget, and the explanation of the who, what, when and where of it leads into mazes, is there reason to believe that his handling of other matters - like, oh, I dunno, the country's Budget - will be much different?
- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to email@example.com