Wednesday, 06 June 2012 02:30
By Rawlston Pompey
Man, a social animal, desires many of the finer things of life-wealth, power and prestige. Man, as a ruthless animal, had displayed inclinations or tendencies that spelled nothing but troubles, hardship and miseries for his fellowmen.
Thus, man’s domineering attitude, impulsive behavior, insatiable appetite for wealth and wielding power had often brought him into unnecessary conflicts with others. DESIDERATA
Frequently, only the vulnerable and hapless were victimized. The latter may be seen from frequently displayed vicious and objectionable behavioral traits; …some akin to insolence and arrogance; …some far removed from civility and …some inconsistent with social grace and justice.” At other times, man’s behavior may be associated with an unmistakable obsession with and reckless use of “…Power and Authority.” Whatever the situation, trait or obsession, man’s behavior has given others reasons to believe that he has been possessed by omen that influences devilish behaviors.
When Max Erhmann reportedly wrote, “…Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence; “…As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons,” [Desiderata: 1872-1945], he may have anticipated human troubles of one kind or another. He may have also anticipated that public officials with an obsession with power and authority may be so repugnant in their expressions; …erratic and irrational in actions and/or reckless in behavior, that there may be good reasons to offer some form of resistance.FORCES/INFLUENCES OF EVIL
Though man’s troubles appeared not to have been confined only to the wider community, some appeared to have existed within critical areas of the “…Public Service.” In this service, it was never about “…social graces.” Frequently, it appeared to have been over ignorance, incompetence or insolence in junior officers. Among key public officers, invariably, it was about personality conflicts and/or weakness in resisting the forces or influences of evil. Additionally, it was also said to have been the causes of friction, arising out of the impulsive use of “…authority; …the deceptive influences; …the collusive and manipulative acts; …victimization and acts of oppression.BEHAVIORAL TRAITS
There was no doubt that within the wider society, equally as much as it may have been seen within the Public Service, the “…unseemly behavior” by some senior public officials had given rise to the impression that the Devil was everywhere. Consequent upon which, some Public Servants had quietly confided that their workplaces were infested with people constantly displaying “…behavioral traits” that appeared to have changed the “…work environment; …impacted negatively upon minds, moods, attitudes and productivity.SPINELESS SUPERVISORS
Within the workplace, half the trouble appeared to have occurred when the functions of “…SPINELESS SUPERVISORS” were reduced to pupeteering and/or subserviency. Biblical teachings implore all to“…Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him [Proverbs 26: 4]. As a result, many had reportedly experienced as many difficulties as they may have been endeavoring to shun the very “…appearance or presence of evil.”PRIVILEGE EXECUTIVE POSITIONS
Not infrequently had there been reports of quiet grumblings within the Civil service. Not infrequently such grumblings had placed either the most senior public officials or “…pathetic” Permanent Secretaries at the center of some contentious issues or controversial decisions. Frequently, it was the dominance of a small overzealous minority holding “…PRIVILEGED EXECUTIVE POSITIONS.” Most were said to have developed a propensity in wielding power and influence, while manipulatively, deceptively coercing the timid, weak and vulnerable into initiating actions against others for frivolous and/or vexatious reasons. In some instances, some had been influenced to act in ways bordering criminality, irrationality and/or stupidity.THE CHALLENGERS
The issue of fear of resistance may not be said of former Senior Civil Servant ELLOY DEFREITAS, who successfully mounted legal challenges in protecting his civil rights and liberties; former acting Permanent Secretary, CLARENCE PILGRIM” who unsuccessfully challenged the apparent “…frictional and high-handed” removal from the Ministry of Agriculture. Exhibiting almost equal tenacity and fearlessness, was currently serving Parliamentary Secretary, Honourable CHANLAH CODRINGTON. He had single-handedly, sought (with partial success) in ensuring that there was “…unfettered access to the nation’s beaches.” Ironically, as quickly as a “…restrictive gate” was removed, a “…restrictive chain” was installed, seemingly “…with indecent haste” and under the pretext of preventing sand mining.MANAGEMENT’S FUNCTIONS
Some public servants experiences were said to have been compounded by the frequently hurled “…foul expressions and insults; …abrupt but unmerited transfers and/or questionable terminations.” Such appeared to have been the disturbing culture. Notwithstanding, in some areas within the public service, there had been the exception, where, there was amicability in relations and an enabling environment conducive, among others, to the critical functions of Management. These include, “…friendly working and inter-personal relations; …reconciliation and/or timely resolutions of conflicts; …team building; …career development; …upward mobility; …celebratory Staff achievements; … appreciation and motivation; …camaraderie and joviality; …and respect for the human person, worth and dignity.” Though these may be seen as idealism, in a world of crooked and selfish people, and within an environment seemingly infested with vicious and evil forces, these may be far removed from realism and achievability.ADMINISTRATIVE BLUES
Existing situations like these had often prompted a few brave and committed Civil Servants to have spoken out annoyingly over tenure that may have been tumultuous or filled with “…ADMINISTRATIVE BLUES.” Many were known to have complained bitterly of interference or attempts at manipulation of the “…chicken-hearted” in the discharge of their official functions. These were the “…DOCILE” ones who had seemingly lacked the courage in expressing, with some degree of openness, firmness and respectability, their abhorrence, particularly to those unfamiliar with “…Civil Service and Financial Regulations and/or Standard Operating Procedures” within the various workplaces.THE DOCILE MENTALITY
Frequently, the “…docile administrators” were either influenced into acting against existing and known rules, regulations and/or against professional ethics. One may recall the”…docile mentality, if not stupidity” and ultimate demise of ELMEADE JARVIS, former Medical Benefits Scheme’s (MBS) Accountant. Frequently, the most vulnerable were some of the most intelligent, but with a docile mentality. Thus, some may have been influenced into acting against their professional interest, the common, societal and national good. Lessons may be learned from such experiences. SUSCEPTIBLE AND SUBMISSIVE
Within some Ministries, particularly the Ministry of Agriculture, “…half the trouble” that appeared to have surfaced as being experienced by Senior Civil Servants, came not from Agriculture Minister Honourable HILSON ‘Brother B’ BAPTISTE. Instead, their troubles appeared to have emanated from timidity and powerlessness. Most senior office holders appeared mindful only of “…continuance of tenure and security pension and gratuity, and not necessarily of the welfare of subordinates and the greater good.” They become “…SUSCEPTIBLE AND SUBMISSIVE.” Frequently out of expediency, they were “…ridden bareback” as to be despised by their subordinates. Frequently, it was to their cunningly disguised demise. Consequently, with such personal fixation on personal benefits, most seemed not to know when to “…gallop like a jack or jenny ass,” and shake apparent offensive, overly-officious and/or vindictive public officials off their backs.” Therefore, most weak-willed Civil Servants would prefer to “…avoid confrontation, endure daily horrors and insults; …excruciating pain and suffer indignities, than complaining.CLEAR VIEW VIS-À-VIS CLARE VUE
The same may not be said of a former acting Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Agriculture. A very courageous “…PILGRIM” named “…CLARENCE” appeared to have trod where only angels fear. He may not have travelled to MECCA, but seemingly had a very “…Clear View” of what Ministerial feud was all about. Thus, when appeared overwhelmed by “…Permanent Secretary blues,” he wisely sought redress and protection from the Judiciary. Instead, the Judiciary had determined that he should be returned to the “…CLARE VUE” Psychiatric Hospital. Lest it be misconstrued, it was not because he was losing touch with reality or had become mentally deranged, but had demonstrated that if he had interest in becoming a “…marionette,” he may have opted for a role on the popular Children’s Television programme, similar to the “…SESAME STREET” characters, “…Bert, Ernie and the Count.”PROTECTION OF GENERAL PUBLIC
It was obvious from recent developments that Minister of State Honourable CHANLAH CODRINTON, with responsibility for two governmental Corporate Bodies“…Development Control Authority (DCA) and Physical Planning Authority (PPA), was au fait with his role and responsibilities. It was also evident that he was acutely aware of the “…individual protections” provided by the Constitution Order 1981, as they affect his “…RIGHTS, FREEDOMS AND LIBERTIES.” It was also obvious that he was aware of his responsibilities dischargeable under the respective “…DCA and PPA Acts” for the “…protection of general public.”FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
For instance, Section 8 provides Constitutional Guarantees against impediments to “…FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT. It states “…A person ‘SHALL NOT’ be deprived of his freedom of movement, that is to say an unimpeded freedom to move FREELY throughout Antigua and Barbuda.” Such, freedom, however, was contingent upon situations likely to impact adversely on the “…interest of defence; …public safety; …public order; …public morality; …public health.” These considerations supersede “…individual rights, freedoms and liberties, as opposed to those for the common good. Threats to anyone or a combination of these factors necessitate effective legal counter-measures for the protection of the great majority and that of the society.FUNCTIONS OF PLANNER
As it affects the functions of Town and Country Planner, FREDERICK SOUTHWELL, Section 6 (2) of the Physical Planning Act, No. 6 of 2003 states “…The Town and Country Planner SHALL be the “…CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER” of the Authority (DCA) and shall exercise the powers and perform the duties” imposed upon him by the Act. Section 6 (5) states “…The Town and Country Planner shall …Sign and issue all development permits; …Refusals of development permission; …Enforcement Notices and other documents authorized by the Authority to be issued under the provisions of this Act.” When he shall have performed his administrative duties, the Act empowers him with administrative ENFORCEMENT.PUBLIC RIGHT OF ACCESS
Section 5 (3) imposes a duty upon the Minister to take into consideration issues that might likely impact negatively upon the “…PUBLIC RIGHT OF ACCESS” and legitimate use of the beaches. Thus, it states, “… The Minister SHALL consider, what public interest as regard to …fishing; …bathing; or …recreation; or in regard to … future development of the land adjoining that part of the foreshore in respect of which the application is made, require to be protected, and he may provide for the protection by, and in the terms of the Licence.” Section 9 (d) of the said ACT also empowered the Cabinet to make regulations for among other considerations “…the prevention of danger; …OBSTRUCTION; or annoyance to members of the public using ANY part of the foreshore or adjoining land.”ADDRESSING BREACHES
Thus, Section 34 (1) states “…Where it appears to the Town and Country Planner that a BREACH of planning control has taken place, that is to say(b) …Any conditions or limitations subject to which a development permit was granted have not been complied with, then the Authority may, within the period, if it considers it expedient to do so, having regard to any development plan applicable to the land where the breach of planning control is alleged to have taken place, serve an Enforcement Notice requiring the breach to be remedied.” This, therefore, may not be a function of a Member of the Legislature or the Executive, let alone mingling with gates.GIVEN PERMISSION
Seemingly caught like rats in traps, both the Minister of Agriculture and Planner appeared to have been responding to media and public pressures over the apparent “…ILLEGAL ERECTION” of a gate across the public road leading to “…PEARNS POINT PUBLIC BEACHES.” Media reports had quoted Minister of Agriculture, Honourable HILSON ‘Brother B’ BAPTISTE as tersely saying “…The Developers asked for permission and WE gave them permission.” Displaying fox-like cunningness, he had prudently stopped short of identifying who were “…WE” as opposed to identifying the appropriate agency and/or relevant authority.” Without persuasive and convincing explanations, an enlightened and suspicious citizenry was bound to speculate that something may have been skewed.PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIES
For the avoidance of doubt, Framers of the Constitution anticipated that some Ministers may be charged with responsibilities and may be so overwhelmed as to require assistance in discharging their official obligations. Consequently, prudence dictated that provisions were made for such assistance. Thus, Section 75 states “…The Governor General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, may appoint PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIES from among members of the House and Senate to …ASSIST MINISTERS” in the performance of their duties.” This is self-explanatory. Thus, it may be seen that unless Ministerial responsibilities were accorded through assigned “…Port Folios,” Parliamentary Secretaries” were powerless in making or taking “…policy-decisions.”FICTIONAL POSITIONS
Where there had been perceived threats to tenure or the creation of “…FICTIONAL POSITIONS,” experience has taught that there had been endless chaos and confusion that had led to inescapable “…HUMAN FRICTIONS.” None was more evident than the recent fiasco between senior substantive Agriculture Minister Honourable HILSON ‘Brother B’ BAPTISTE and “…PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY” Honourable CHANLAH CODRINGTON. Evidently, within the Ministry of Agriculture, the Physical Planning Authority (PPA) and the Development Control Authority (DCA) had been port folioed to the substantive Minister.EXECUTIVE FRICTIONS
Seemingly, the ensuing disagreements over assignments and making of policies may have been the result of “…Miscommunication; …Description of Ministerial responsibilities; …Misunderstanding of positions, roles and functions. The ambitious humans have often developed tendencies that had invariably led to “…usurpation of authority; and when expediency dictates, circumventing regulatory procedures or the creation of an environment for acts of collusion. Compounding these may be objectionable intrusions into demarcated areas of responsibilities.” These have often become vexatious to the spirit and were known to have produced misunderstanding and a multiplicity of human problems, including “…EXECUTIVE FRICTIONS” and Administrative difficulties.”MINISTERIALLY CORRECT
Media reports had suggested squabbles among appointed public officials and Parliamentary Secretaries. These were said to have arisen over assumed “…power and authority.” These were also known to have produced“…Personality Conflicts.” In the “…CHANLAH CODRINGTON’S AFFAIRS,” the substantive Minister, characterized by a “…Rude Boy mentality and temperament,” may also have placed his colleague’s actions was as erratic as it may have been pathetic. Notwithstanding, it appeared that the legitimate “…Power and Authority resided” with the holder of the office of Agriculture Minister. Now as characteristically repugnant the behavior the substantive Minister may have been perceived or described, he appeared “…Ministerially correct” and unchallengeable that such “…Power and Authority” resided within his port folio. This may be seen from the provisions of the Constitution Order 1981 that speak to “…EXECUTIVE POWER.”MINISTERIAL RESPONSIBILITIES
Part V of the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution Order, therefore, provides for the dispensation of “…EXECUTIVE POWERS.” Firstly, Section ‘69’ provides for the appointment of a Prime Minister and in this case, following the electoral processes, there shall only be one. Secondly, Section ‘70’ provides for the CABINET. This Section unambiguously states “…There shall be a Cabinet for Antigua and Barbuda which shall have the general direction and control of the Government and shall have collective responsibility therefore to Parliament.”ALLOCATIONS OF PORT FOLIOS
Thirdly, Section ‘71’ speaks to “…ALLOCATIONS OF PORT FOLIOS.” This Section clearly states “…The Governor General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, may by directions in writing, ASSIGN to the Prime Minister, or any other Minister responsibility for any business of the Government, including the administration of any department of Government.” Those so assigned with port folios were the ones with overall Ministerial responsibilities.FOOL’S PARADISE
Except for the simplistic few, the gullible, dull and ignorant, none may wish to “…Live in fool’s paradise.” In closer examination, it was instructive to have an understanding, lest Parliamentary Secretaries stepped over the line of demarcation. Hence, unlike Senator DR. ERROL CORT who was assigned Ministerial responsibility for “…NATIONAL SECURITY” and Senator DR. EDMOND MANSOOR who was also assigned Ministerial responsibilities for “…INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY,” those so appointed as “…Parliamentary Secretaries,” Members of the House of Representatives-the “…CHANLAH CODRINGTONS; …ELESTON ADAMS, Senator WINSTON WILLIAMS, Senator Joanne Massiah and Senate Member MALAKA PARKER,” were specifically for the purposes of rendering “…ASSISTANCE” to the substantive Ministers in their respective Ministries. The non Parliamentary Secretaries were Senators Colin Derrick and Sylvia Omard.
Additionally, all members of Cabinet and/or Parliamentary Secretaries, ex officio, have “…COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY,” and were to be held responsible for any inappropriate behaviors or misdeeds of their colleagues. This sums up man's tendencies in a social environment and an innate nature to be problematic.