Continuing disturbing public service revelations emphasize the two tracks open to Guyanese, the way we should be. To each individual, and contingent upon priorities and objectives, comes different results and satisfactions. To the one called and now powerfully in place, there are two realities: what is there that tempts and threatens? And how to respond? Some context should help.
Individual public servants are in a position of influence. They can make things happen, such as a multi-million-dollar award, a long-term contract, a public works project. They are part of the decision-making. It should be a clean realm. A genuine process that affords citizens a fair opportunity. That is what should pertain in the official world of public service.
In the real world of personal life, there are relationships: family linkages; business friendships; school ties. Now here is the challenge: the official must be separate from the personal. The two must not intersect; or feature as to who gets a piece of business or not. That’s the perfect world: a demanding standard, when so much side business can be had, so much money made, through knowledge, and the power to influence.
The challenges crystallize to these: what to do before all these rich temptations? The straight brings no personal gain; the incorruptible does not afford a certain opulent lifestyle. Doing the right thing means nothing. Pre-arranging leads to many rich things. What to do? This is what is done, now the culture.
Mechanisms are finalized: a company; have people lined up (family, marriage and associations); partner with like-minded characters. Awards are made to come, directed from inside the public service. Oil, drugs, real estate, upstream, downstream, -all in the many millions.
In the blatant cases, there is this exercise: to recuse self or not. Recusing is farcical in this interlinked society: knowledge, terms, players, who is related to whom, who ponies up, who must get the award. Regardless of who is present (non-recusal) or who is absent (recusal), fix is in, the game is on, wicked games. It is the overlapping of public service and personal self-serving.
Where there is structuring of bids to accommodate for everybody (ministers, public servants, private sector) getting their customary percentage, through compartmentalized networks seeking to insulate the final powerful recipient. It is not limited to the couple of hundred who submit pieces of paper to the Integrity Commission. It is a contaminated society going through a clever but now well-known fraud. It is positioning to prosper.
This is the first track. It has become political and racial right. It is also terribly wrong at the same time: existence and result. The result is always about as much money as can be grabbed. That is not public service; not authentic servant-hood. Look: is that not just what is happening? Neither speech nor memorandum nor posture can nullify those flaring sticks of dynamite. They burn. They condemn.
Whether done sophisticatedly, lived secretly, and reaped richly this is the first track of public service traveled by many blatantly. They do very well. It might be the man from CANU (the one who could not intimidate a traveler), or the entrenched at City Hall, committed to denying the mayor and cheating the taxpayer, or the sizable list of public officials hauled before the courts, but who know how to maneuver through the judicial system and render it laughable.
The second track of public service for some is to be true to self. There are few exemplifying unswerving resistance to the corrupting storms that rage. For those few, the duty of public service is to stand apart from all the financial harvesting. There are many harsh prices for this kind of public service; but there is a preponderance of evidence that speaks to rare personal standards.
The true public servant is of no hidden companies, no land awards, no revealing relationships, no special treatment sought, no favors taken, no suspicious accounts, be they with banks, partners, husbands, wives, friends or anything remotely resembling the improper. There is nothing to disclose, save for the same cousins, asset levels, and truths. There is a straightness to affairs, to carriage: no hedging, no concealing, no games.
It is about God, family, country.
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