There is much honour in holding public offices
Being a public servant, whether it be a Minister, Police Officer, Judge, Magistrate, President, Prime Minister, Military Officer or just an ordinary Clerk; is a position with much honour. Recently there were some occurrences involving public officers that have prompted me to write this letter.
Sometimes one gets the impression that as a people we have very low standards, hence we do not demand a higher quality of service from public officers. But that is far from being accurate. We have standards and very high standards too. Many of us desire a higher level of service and conduct from our public officers.
I wish to make specific reference to two recent incidents. The first involves Clement Rohee, Minister of Home Affairs and the Senior Officers of the Guyana Police Force. Eleven Senior Officers decided to ‘throw caution to the wind’ and tell the Minister what was on their minds, and publicly too. It was their response that was provoked by an a– – kicking comment made by the Minister in public. There were a number of points raised in the Officers’ letter which highlights issues on integrity, trust, respect, dissatisfaction with disciplinary matters surrounding their colleague,
I am interested in the Minister’s response to the Officers letter. Nevertheless, I do not think that it should be treated as another matter for disciplinary action but rather requires a conflict resolution intervention; perhaps Mediation. The parties should agree to become engaged in a Mediation process as an attempt to address the root cause of the problem, heal the relationship between the Minister and his Officers /GPF and restore respect for both parties and the wider Force.
I am not for one moment insinuating that the Officers were wrong in their approach. I understand that they are adults and professionals and expect to be treated that way. From the Minister’s point of view, I understand his frustration. I am also frustrated with the GPF in some areas. One specific case in point, I have a personal matter which I am still waiting for the Police to investigate since 2002, now ten years, and I guess that there are thousands of Guyanese with similar stories. But the Minister’s position is different, he cannot demoralise members of the GPF in public and expect to motivate them.
Which brings me to the point of the impact of the various development projects and programmes which are undertaken throughout the country. Many of these projects focus on conflict management and resolution, personal development, organisational strengthening, among others. There was the UNDP’S Social Cohesion Project a few years ago, and then the Enhanced Public Trust, Security and Inclusion Project (EPTSI), USAID’s Guyana Democratic Consolidation and Conflict Resolution (GDCCR) Project, and currently the Citizens’ Security Programme (CSP) implemented by Ministry of Home Affairs and funded by the Inter- American Development Bank (IBD) just to name a few; all of which in one way or another addressed very strategically the areas mentioned above.
As a country we have to at some point, progress from the training stage, to actually begin to see change in behaviour. I think that it is time that we start to see some real impact from these interventions.
For example the Minister has an excellent opportunity to own the CSP project. To become the Champion of the Citizens’ Security Programme, by displaying the impact the programme has had on his personal development and conflict management skills.
The second incident I wish to raise involves Kwame Mc Coy, Press Officer, at the Office of the President. Last week when there was the protest outside of the Parliament building, I saw on the News, Robeson Benn, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics and Anil Nandlall, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, in their wisdom, engaging Mr. Mc Coy in a discussion in an attempt to persuade him to adapt another course of action under the particular circumstances which were prevailing at the time.
However, Mr. Mc Coy chose to continue to hold a certain position. I think this public incident (not only what occurred but the manner in which it was done) between Mr. Mc Coy and the Honourable Ministers is something that should not be tolerated. These were Ministers, his superiors and I think that more respect should have been shown. We have a public life and a private life, how we treat with each, has to be different.
We should not and must not become casual about these occurrences, showing respect for authority and each other is fundamental to the sustainability of any country.
Many of us are parents and teachers trying to raise children with good values and principles and we want to have local role models that we can exhibit to our children. We are trying to trained them to respect authority but the respect has to also be shown by senior persons in our society too.
Many of us refer to President Barack Obama as a symbol of a person that children should aspire to emulate. But we want local examples too.
So Mr. Mc Coy I think that you should publicly apologise to the two Ministers.
And Minister Rohee, no more a- – kicking language, in public anymore. As a matter of fact, no more of such language by public officers, especially senior public officers anymore. Let’s raise the bar and turn a new page as from today.
Finally Minister Rohee and Mr. Mc Coy, we are actually on the same page. The higher our social capital, the more development and investment choices and opportunities we could have.