The news was greeted with a sigh of relief in Beirut. Ditto in Tripoli, Tyre and Sidon. The famed cedars of Lebanon rocked and swayed in approbation. Seems, even nature was in agreement with the latest political development in a beautiful but troubled part of the Middle East. Seems, in the aftermath of the dreadful explosion that killed upwards of 200 people, and wounded thousands, the government was resigning. Whew! This was an administration rife with corruption, incompetence, and cronyism. Mismanagement and a lack of transparency was the coin of the realm, the order of the day. Nothing moved in Lebanon unless some connected person was reaping a windfall from it. Arguably, no one stood to make oodles of money from the 2, 750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was stored for some six-plus years (since 2013) in a port warehouse, so it simply stayed there – a powder keg that could have gone off at any time, and it eventually did, completely destroying half of the lovely city that was once called “The Paris of the Middle East.” Mercifully, the administration, led by Prime Minister Hassan Diab, has done the decent thing and resigned.
In early May, the Minister of Health in the Bahamas, Dr. Duane Sands, tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis after he allowed six persons carrying Covid-19 testing supplies to land in the country and go to their homes without producing negative Covid-19 test results, as was required by his own government’s protocols. Said the good Dr Sands, “I refer to the unfortunate controversy surrounding the delivery of Covid-19 test swabs, and the landing of permanent residents under what you have termed a breach of protocol regulating the entry to the Bahamas by Bahamian citizens, and permanent residents under Emergency Regulations. I accept responsibility for this breach of protocol. I acknowledge that I acted outside of the scope of my authority in this matter. My actions were guided by my great desire to obtain the much-needed testing swabs which are in short supply, both here and internationally, and which are key to our efforts to trace the spread of the coronavirus so as to better focus our responses. I acted at all times in good faith. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that my actions have caused embarrassment for which I express sincere regret.” Hmmm! This guy is a rare breed in the arrogant and vain-glorious world of politics. Talk about contrition! He gives added meaning to the Biblical precept, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” Would to God that there were more of his ilk here in the Caribbean! Sigh!
Then just next door in Bermuda, a little over a month ago, Mr Zane De Silva (Minister of Tourism and Transport) and Mr Wayne Caines (Minister of National Security), resigned from the administration after they were purportedly seen on video at a party where folks were cavorting with each other without wearing masks. In accepting their letters of resignation, premier David Burt ruefully declared, “As these men depart the Cabinet, I am frustrated and immensely disappointed that this incident has deprived the community of two extremely hard working and dedicated ministers. Both men worked tirelessly during the months of the pandemic response to keep Bermudians safe and to support our economic recovery. Their energy and zeal demonstrated a genuine care and concern for the people of Bermuda. I will remain forever grateful for their contributions. [However], the events of this weekend seen widely on social media did not represent this government’s months of struggle and hard work to keep Bermuda safe. Every citizen has been forced to make significant changes in how we live, work and socialise; ministers are no different.” Hmmm! There’s a novel thought, to wit, that ministers and government officials must abide by the same policies and protocols that they set out for the ordinary plebeians.
Of course, we cannot forget the resignation of Mr Ruel Reid, the former Minister of Education, Youth Affairs and Information in Jamaica, a little over a year ago. Reid was asked to resign amid allegations of corruption at his Ministry. Those allegations were being investigated.
And so it goes. Whether they were forced out, whether events overtook them, whether they were persuaded by patriotic concerns, whether qualms of their consciences told them that resigning was the right thing to do, they stepped down. They gave their various countries a chance to breathe and recover and start afresh.
It is indeed a beautiful thing to see that there are still people who, having tasted of the intoxicating wine of power, can still put down the goblet and walk away in the interest of all concerned. We’re talking the noble act of putting country above self and personal ambition! These people will not cling to the chandeliers of the halls of government, hanging on for dear life, even though it is manifest that their time to serve has come and gone. They will not have to be taken out on a gurney with a tag on their toes, because of some perceived ‘divine right’ to be leaders until they die.
With that in mind, we note that our Prime Minister, the Honourable Gaston Browne, in a recent tirade against the Barbuda Council, declared, “Me Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of this country . . . before I turn a blind eye, I rather fight them or resign when it comes to that.” Seems, this Peace, Love and Happiness project is so very important to this administration, that if our PM does not have his way, he will resign . . . Hmmmm! There’s an intriguing thought . . .
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