Wed | Oct 20, 2021

Alfred Dawes | Walk good, Floyd, but not too far

Published:Saturday | September 18, 2021 | 12:07 AM

Floyd Green’s resignation was appropriate and required. I also believe that after he has paid his penance, he ought to be reinstated as a Cabinet minister, as he has, even at the nadir of his career, demonstrated the class and decorum worthy of a leader. I will not sign the petition to reinstate him, but I will welcome his return when the time is right.

The video cut me deep. It was the toast to ‘No Movement Day’ that hit the worst. It was a toast to the hardships we faced as a nation and at the same time revelling in the fact that they were ‘exempted’ from the sacrifices of us regular Jamaicans. I was livid. Then when I saw who was in the video, it quickly changed to disappointment. “This nuh look good” was my second thought. I couldn’t believe one of the rising stars of my generation would jeopardise his political career for something so stupid. A poor decision was made.

The knives were drawn, and the mobs howled for blood. A calculating Andrew Holness may have got away with a demotion, or the public lashing of a hugely popular minister. But maybe this would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. For over a year we have been living a life of triple standards under this Government. Different sets of rules for the poor, the rich and the rich Labourites. The high-handed approach of the police in dealing with the peasants and the slaps on the wrists of the well-connected were opening the eyes of a COVID-19-weary population to the inequalities of Jamaican society.

What better way to highlight the gulfs between rich and poor and the political class and the rest of us, than to toast to their ability to pop champagne while we stare at the four walls of our suffocating rooms. I believe Floyd watched that video several times. He saw the arrogance and disdain for our pain. And that is why his apology was so heartfelt. It was at that point he knew he had messed up. Big time.

The apology was contrite. There were no ifs, maybes or hints of justification. It was a big man taking responsibility for his actions and begging for forgiveness. The decision was already made. The axe had fallen. He was not trying to save his job. He was asking us for a second chance after our bloodlust was satisfied. To me that is okay. It was a terrible punishment. Some argue that it was too much. Yet would you have been so supportive had he and the PM dug in and refused the calls for his resignation? With charges swirling, would you have stuck by him even after Beenie Man and everyone else charged under the Disaster Risk Management Act began to scream about the double standards in the application of the law?

PAID ULTIMATE PRICE

The punishment fit the crime. Anything less than a resignation would have further hobbled the Government’s enforcement of the law. Mr Green has paid the ultimate price for his transgression. He did so with humility and grace. I forgive him. I look forward to the day when he will come in from the cold to a full ministerial position. We need bright people like him. Those who are dedicated to serving country while remaining untainted by the corruption that seems to soil so many promising politicians.

In some ways he has won. Floyd has now become the most watched young, upcoming politician. As fast as his stocks plunged, they have begun to rally. Whatever he succeeds at while he is in purgatory will be a springboard for his triumphant return. His character and integrity are still intact. Taxpayers have not been cheated. No funds have been misappropriated. No cronies and hangers-on have enriched themselves from being in proximity to his power. The same arguments that are used to criticise the ‘heavy-handedness’ of Mr Holness will become more credible as more in the Government fail and Green enjoys even measured success wherever he is planted.

For those who are calling for his immediate reinstatement, relax. You may not have been, but a significant number were offended enough to want this outcome. This is a victory for democracy, a win for Mr Holness as a decisive, no-nonsense leader, and through his humility, a boost for Floyd’s prospects. It is also a teachable moment for all politicians, that the old days of blustering and chest-thumping when you are caught out are over.

Enough Jamaicans are waking up and realising that we have power not just during the election cycle. Well, unless you’re dealing with George Wright. He just isn’t going anywhere till the fat lady sings. But I digress. The Government seems to be finally getting it. It is sad that it wasn’t someone else though. I can think of a few names where there would be toasts to their eviction from Parliament altogether.

My advice to Floyd is the same advice I got from an old surgeon while I was in training. Just be yourself and continue to work hard because cream always rises to the top. You disappointed and hurt many people, but you have set an example of how politicians should conduct themselves when they are wrong. We hope that your future contributions to our democracy will be beneficial to not just us, but to your career as well. Till then, humble yourself.

- Dr Alfred Dawes is a general, laparoscopic, and weight-loss surgeon; fellow of the American College of Surgeons; Follow him on Twitter @dr_aldawes. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and adawes@ilapmedical.com.