Noam Chomsky opines that “it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies”. It begs the question do we have intellectuals in Barbados? Who are they? BU adds another question to the pile – is there morality in local politics?
During the last general election Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart was portrayed as a man of integrity when compared to Owen Arthur. Whether one agrees who won the integrity vote Stuart did not object to the comparison. One year later BU believes Stuart has fallen short of being a man of integrity. Before the political cackle begins it is instructive to lookup the definition of integrity, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness”. Did Prime Minister Stuart and his Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite now appointed admit that they witnessed unsavoury (illegal) events during election day? The Prime Minister promised he would check every election law on the books and bring the matter to parliament to prevent recurrence and in the process finger the culprits.
On another front BU is reliably informed that the government had been in discussion with the NUPW to send home workers for several weeks before the recent announcement. One must reasonably conclude that Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart – who is the minister responsible for the civil service had to be aware of the decision to retrench workers a long time before it was announced. Remember when the SmartStream system was blamed by Stuart as the reason why temporary workers were not paid? We subsequently found out that temporary workers are not registered on this system for payroll. The decision to send home workers was not arrived at overnight. During the time the discussions were being held the Prime Minister suggested there was a computer glitch when many public officers complained about not being paid. We hesitate to call Prime Minister Stuart a liar BUT he has been less than transparent about government’s position on the tenure of public servants.
The other issue which raises questions about the integrity of the Prime Minister is a recent report by the Nation newspaper which highlighted correspondence related to Leroy Parris CIBC matter apparently shared with the Prime Minister. To date Prime Minister Stuart has not denied the report. An international bank would not have made the decision to close an account with a reported balance of hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions, depending on which Nation report you believe lightly. Why would the Prime Minister his Minister of Finance and Central Bank Governor allow themselves to be dragged into this matter given the CLICO connection? If Parris has a problem with his bankers giving him the boot let him resort to the law courts for resolution.
Part two of BU’s concern: why are our intellectuals not speaking out about the issues whether social or economic affecting the country? This is the country which has invested heavily in their education. There has been no strident discussion mounted by the Bajan intelligentsia to dilute the partisan political diatribe which continues to pollute the Barbados space. Why have they allowed themselves to be intimidated and be cowered into silence? There is no time like the present, a parlous period of our existence, that our brightest and best should not feel obligated to leverage their knowledge and expertise to give back to their nation. Instead what we have are intellectuals who have no backbone or are willing to compromise their intelligence because of partisan political leanings.
If the lack of involvement by the local intelligentsia to become immersed in the issues of the day to problem solve, it makes a compelling case for Barbadians to evaluate how tertiary level education should be funded in the future. The last 5 years provide ample evidence to judge relevance.