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'Let it begin with me' - Burchell Whiteman calls for Jamaicans to undergo attitudinal change

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Former Jamaican high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Burchell Whiteman, called on Jamaica to embrace the initiative of creating a national standard for improving public behaviour in the society.

"Each person needs to do the most rigorous self-examination, undergo attitudinal change ... and to say, 'Let it begin with me,'" he said.

Whiteman was speaking at the 11th meeting of the Technical Committee for Developing a National Standard for Improving Public Behaviour in Jamaica held at the Bureau of Standards headquarters in St Andrew on Tuesday.

The initiative, which was launched last year, is being spearheaded by the Bureau of Standards and seeks to improve public behaviour among citizens, students and workers.

The scope of the good-behaviour drive aims to provide guidance to all citizens, students and workers on concepts relating to public behaviour, central themes relating to social responsibility and promoting socially responsible public behaviour.

Whiteman said that Jamaicans were filled with many contradictions, which played itself out in society every day. These included demanding much of their public officials, yet not applying the same standards to individuals in the private sector, and treating public spaces with disdain, while preserving their private premises.

Daunting task

He admitted that getting Jamaicans to improve their public social habits was a daunting task, evidenced by former Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson, who pursued a difficult values and attitudes campaign 16 years ago.

Whiteman believes there is an opportunity for business managers and owners across Jamaica to improve customer service in the island.

"There is no short-term fix to social transformation, but neither do we have the luxury of sitting by and doing nothing," he said.